What Cui’s team found was that they could get the lost ions moving again by effectively dumping the battery’s stored energy really fast. The “dead” ions sort of “go with the flow,” and many find their way back to an electrode and get back to work.
“We found that we can move the detached lithium toward the anode during discharging, and these motions are faster under higher currents,” Fang Liu, a Stanford post-doctoral fellow and lead author of the study, told Science Daily. “So we added a fast, high-current discharging step right after the battery charges, which moved the isolated lithium far enough to reconnect it with the anode. This reactivates the lithium, so it can participate in the life of the battery.”
The results of the study were validated with multiple test batteries and through computer simulations.
See DOE, Stanford researchers bring 'dead' lithium batteries back to life
DOE, Stanford researchers bring "dead" lithium batteries back to life by changing the way li-ion batteries are cycled.