Major differences in storage capacities found in water-based batteries in a project funded by United States Department of Energy and National Science Foundation. With this discovery, it is possible to achieve lithium-free batteries soon.

Scientists from A&M University, Texas discovered a 1000% difference in storage capacity of metal-free water-based battery electrodes. These are unique batteries in comparison to lithium-ion batteries.

Scientists want to focus on stems of this battery type to gain greater control over domestic supply chains. Potential fire can be avoided with these batteries as they have safer chemistry.

According to Professor Lutkenhaus aqueous batteries have an electrode, anode, and cathode. Cathodes and anodes are polymers and store energy. Electrolytes are mixed with water along with organic salts.

It interacts with electrodes and is the key to energy storage and ion conduction. Non-conjugated radical and redox-active polymers are the best candidates for metal-free aqueous batteries. Polymers have fast redox kinetics and high discharge voltage. This makes the reaction complex and difficult.

Chemical engineering professor Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus said, “There would be no battery fires anymore because its water based. In the future, if materials shortages are projected, the price of lithium-ion batteries will go way up.

If we have this alternative battery, we can turn to this chemistry, where the supply is much more stable because we can manufacture them here in the United States, and materials to make them are here.

If an electrode swells too much during cycling, then it can’t conduct electrons very well, and you lose all the performance,” she said. “I believe that there is a 1,000% difference in energy storage capacity, depending on the electrolyte choice because of swelling effects.”

Other researchers of the project mentioned, ”We demonstrate the nature of the redox reaction by examining aqueous electrolytes of varying chao-/kosmotropic character using electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance with dissipation monitoring at a range of timescales.”

To check if battery cathode is working better in the presence of certain salts, researchers macroscopically observed the process. They measured how much water and salt is exactly going in the battery as it operates.

Dr. Daniel Tabor, chemistry assistant professor, said, “Theory and experiment often work closely together to understand these materials. One of the new things that we do computationally in this paper is that we actually charge up the electrode to multiple states of charge and see how the surroundings respond to this charging.

We did that to explain what has been observed experimentally. With this new energy storage technology, this is a push forward to lithium-free batteries.

We have a better molecular level picture of what makes some battery electrodes work better than others, and this gives us strong evidence of where to go forward in materials design.”

The discovery of major differences in storage capacities found in water-based batteries is a turning point. Soon we can have lithium-free batteries.

Source: Nature Materials


Elliot is a passionate environmentalist and blogger who has dedicated his life to spreading awareness about conservation, green energy, and renewable energy. With a background in environmental science, he has a deep understanding of the issues facing our planet and is committed to educating others on how they can make a difference.

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