Could this new advancement reignite ASX 200 lithium stocks?

Lab worker puts hands in the air and dances around

Lab worker puts hands in the air and dances around

S&P/ASX 200 Index (ASX: XJO) lithium stocks remain strong performers in 2023, with a few exceptions.

Here’s how the big lithium companies have been tracking since the opening bell on 3 January:

  • Core Lithium Ltd (ASX: CXO) shares are flat
  • Allkem Ltd (ASX: AKE) shares are up 13%
  • Pilbara Minerals Ltd (ASX: PLS) shares have gained 34%
  • IGO Ltd (ASX: IGO) shares are up 9%
  • Mineral Resources Ltd (ASX: MIN) shares have gained 16%

By comparison, the ASX 200 is up 7% over the same period.

That’s certainly a very healthy performance for investors holding an even-weighted basket of these ASX 200 lithium stocks.

But could a new rally be on the cards to rival the mammoth gains posted by the miners in 2021?

Could this advancement spur a new rally for ASX 200 lithium stocks?

The advancement in question relates to lithium-metal batteries, as opposed to the lithium-ion batteries currently used in most EVs.

Rather than storing lithium ions in electrode materials within the battery, lithium-metal batteries have a layer of lithium at one of the electrodes. This makes them lighter and, potentially, superior designs.

Oh, and they also won’t catch fire.

But, as Popular Mechanics reports, lithium-metal batteries are prone to short circuit. That’s caused by dendrites, microscopic cracks in the ceramic electrolyte.

Which has left scientists puzzled. Until now.

In a discovery that could change the makeup of batteries, and spur fresh demand for ASX 200 lithium stocks, researchers at Stanford University and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory uncovered why dendrites form in lithium-metal batteries.

Apparently, these occur from any indentation or impurities within the batteries, which cause nanoscopic cracks in the ceramic solid electrolyte, resulting in short circuits.

According to lead co-author William Chueh (as quoted by Popular Mechanics):

Just modest indentation, bending or twisting of the batteries can cause nanoscopic fissures in the materials to open and lithium to intrude into the solid electrolyte causing it to short circuit. Even dust or other impurities introduced in manufacturing can generate enough stress to cause failure.

What’s next?

ASX 200 lithium stocks aren’t likely to benefit from the latest advancement overnight.

But the researchers have now turned their attention to strengthening the electrolyte during manufacturing. They’re also investigating ways to coat the ceramic barrier, enabling it to repair any dendrites when those occur.

If the next phase of the research bears fruit, ASX 200 lithium stocks may be dominating financial news headlines once more.

The post Could this new advancement reignite ASX 200 lithium stocks? appeared first on The Motley Fool Australia.

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Motley Fool contributor Bernd Struben has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia’s parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.

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