Behind every historically game-changing invention, there’s a story few of us ever get to hear. It’s the tale of back-breaking research and development, of years of methodical testing, and of gradual, inch-by-inch improvement, with a few noble failures thrown in for good measure.

Take the humble lightbulb, successfully showcased to the world in 1878, but only after its inventor, Thomas Edison, had ground his way through decades of unusable prototypes. In responding to his critics, Edison used a ready-made comeback: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

Under pressure from progress

Some 150 years later, there’s still no substitute for hard work and perseverance when it comes to research and product development. But time – and failure – are no longer the acceptable rites of passage they once were. The world is simply spinning too fast; progress can’t arrive fast enough, and development cycles are measured in weeks, rather than years.

Battery manufacturers are under greater pressure than most. With the energy transition in full swing, society needs breakthroughs in electric vehicles (EVs) and renewable energy storage. It needs them yesterday.

In turn, the supporting battery technology needs to offer higher levels of performance, at less weight, and with greater energy density. Solutions need to be delivered quickly and affordably, at a scale never seen before.

Here, in 2020 research nonetheless remains an analytical, step-by-step process, and battery manufacturers must be able to answer certain key questions in order to optimize their materials and production accordingly. To enable this, researchers need to ensure outstanding quality and safety levels for a wide range of experimental setups.

A helping hand for innovators

Tools and technologies can help smoothen out R&D cycles, reducing trial and error, improving safety, and speeding up time to market, while leaving room for exploration.

Our role at Malvern Panalytical is to give battery researchers the support they need to deliver much-needed breakthroughs, guiding them through major scientific leaps via the safest and most efficient route available. Key to this is helping them investigate the causes of battery failure in order to enhance battery lifespans and improve and maintain performance during application.

To do this, we offer a unique set of physical, chemical, and structural analysis solutions designed to accommodate and simplify challenging experimental tasks. Among other things, our solutions enable rapid, high-precision analysis of particle size and shape distribution and elemental composition of battery materials. Our X-ray diffraction (XRD) instruments can measure subtle chemical phase changes and structural damage during battery charging and discharging cycles. We support new ways of investigating batteries as the research continues., All of this shortening the path to a successful outcome.

Edison or any other successful inventor would agree there’s no secret recipe for innovation. We simply aim to give battery researchers the best possible chance of success, and to keep technological progress moving in sync with the modern market. Good things come to those who wait, as the saying goes. Just don’t wait too long.

Stay tuned to Materials Talks to hear which markets are benefiting from accelerated battery development…

In addition to conventional analytical solutions, Malvern Panalytical offers on-line automation – providing you with continuous insight into electrode materials to help optimize the production process and maintain product quality. In fact, their next webinar is about the on-line analysis of precursor and cathode materials. Register here, if you are considering making the switch to automated solutions.