"One of the key problems with lithium-ion batteries is that, over time, they do lose some of their battery life. This is why recycling them is so important. But what if there was a way to bring them back to life? And by this, I mean make them as good as new without recycling them. What if you could not only bring them back to life but extend the battery’s life by up to 30%?
As lithium batteries cycle, they collect these little pockets or islands of inactive lithium that are cut off from the electrodes. This decreases the battery’s capacity to store charge. Think of this as dead lithium. The research team found that they could make the dead lithium practically creep forward like a worm toward one of the electrodes until it reconnects. Kind of like creating a zombie, but without all of the blood and gore, yet with the added benefit of partially reversing an unwanted process.
When an island of dead lithium metal travels to the anode of a battery and reconnects, it is brought back to life and adds electrons to the battery’s current flow and lithium ions for storing charge. Researchers were able to get the island to move by adding lithium metal at one end and dissolving it at the other end, essentially driving the island’s growth in the direction of the anode by adding a short, high-current discharging step just after the battery charges. They found that adding this extra step slowed the degradation of their test battery while increasing its lifetime by almost 30%."