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Status and challenges in enabling the lithium metal electrode for high-energy and low-cost rechargeable batteries

Abstract

Enabling the reversible lithium metal electrode is essential for surpassing the energy content of today’s lithium-ion cells. Although lithium metal cells for niche applications have been developed already, efforts are underway to create rechargeable lithium metal batteries that can significantly advance vehicle electrification and grid energy storage. In this Perspective, we focus on three tasks to guide and further advance the reversible lithium metal electrode. First, we summarize the state of research and commercial efforts in terms of four key performance parameters, and identify additional performance parameters of interest. We then advocate for the use of limited lithium (≤30 μm) to ensure early identification of technical challenges associated with stable and dendrite-free cycling and a more rapid transition to commercially relevant designs. Finally, we provide a cost target and outline material costs and manufacturing methods that could allow lithium metal cells to reach 100 US$ kWh–1.

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Fig. 1: Repeat layers of Li-ion and lithium metal cells.
Fig. 2: Status of published efforts on the cycling of lithium metal.
Fig. 3: Cost analysis for lithium metal batteries.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank N. Dudney, S. Visco, L. Archer, K. Xu, T. Holme and P. Frischmann for helpful discussions.

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P.A. conceived the figures, conducted the majority of the analysis and wrote most of the paper. S.B. and S.L. made significant contributions to the analysis and editing of the paper. A.N. contributed analysis and edited the paper.

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Correspondence to Paul Albertus.

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Albertus, P., Babinec, S., Litzelman, S. et al. Status and challenges in enabling the lithium metal electrode for high-energy and low-cost rechargeable batteries. Nat Energy 3, 16–21 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-017-0047-2

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