While there's plenty of folks out there focused on making lithium-ion batteries safer and longer-lasting, there's also thankfully some dedicated to making 'em cheaper, which is especially welcome when we're talking about the expensive batteries powering cars. Among those in the latter camp is University of Texas at Austin professor Arumugam Manthiram, who has devised a method of using microwaves to heat a concoction of commercially available chemicals, which ultimately results in the Rorschach test of rod-shaped particles of lithium iron phosphate pictured above. While the use of lithium iron phosphate instead of the more commonly used lithium cobalt oxide apparently cuts back on the total amount of energy the batteries can store, it is apparently particularly well-suited to delivering large bursts of power, which should make the batteries ideal for use in hybrid vehicles. What's more, while the actual cost of the materials may not be much cheaper than other solutions, the sheer speed at which Manthiram's process works could allow for higher production rates from the same amount of equipment, which should result in cheaper batteries by the time they roll off the assembly line.

[Via Daily Tech]

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Microwave process could cut cost of lithium-ion batteries