Lithium-ion batteries suffer severe power loss at temperatures below zero degrees Celsius, limiting their use in applications such as electric cars in cold climates and high-altitude drones. The practical consequences of such power loss are the need for larger, more expensive battery packs to perform engine cold cranking, slow charging in cold weather, restricted regenerative braking, and reduction of vehicle cruise range by as much as 40 per cent. Previous attempts to improve the low-temperature performance of lithium-ion batteries have focused on developing additives to improve the low-temperature behaviour of electrolytes, and on externally heating and insulating the cells. Here we report a lithium-ion battery structure, the 'all-climate battery' cell, that heats itself up from below zero degrees Celsius without requiring external heating devices or electrolyte additives. The self-heating mechanism creates an electrochemical interface that is favourable for high discharge/charge power. We show that the internal warm-up of such a cell to zero degrees Celsius occurs within 20 seconds at minus 20 degrees Celsius and within 30 seconds at minus 30 degrees Celsius, consuming only 3.8 per cent and 5.5 per cent of cell capacity, respectively. The self-heated all-climate battery cell yields a discharge/regeneration power of 1,061/1,425 watts per kilogram at a 50 per cent state of charge and at minus 30 degrees Celsius, delivering 6.4-12.3 times the power of state-of-the-art lithium-ion cells. We expect the all-climate battery to enable engine stop-start technology capable of saving 5-10 per cent of the fuel for 80 million new vehicles manufactured every year. Given that only a small fraction of the battery energy is used for self-heating, we envisage that the all-climate battery cell may also prove useful for plug-in electric vehicles, robotics and space exploration applications.
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