by Staff Writers
Zurich, Switzerland (SPX) Nov 30, 2017
Phones, laptops, electric cars - batteries are everywhere. And to meet the expectations of today's consumers, these batteries are increasingly lighter, more powerful and designed to last longer.
Currently the core technology for these applications is lithium ion batteries. But the technology is expensive and contains a flammable liquid, which may represent a safety hazard, when the battery is abused.
To satisfy the growing demand from emerging markets (electric cars, for example, and renewable energy storage), researchers from Empa, the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology, and the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have devised a new battery prototype: known as "all-solid-state", this battery has the potential to store more energy while maintaining high safety and reliability levels.
Furthermore, the battery is based on sodium, a cheap alternative to lithium. Read about the research in more detail in the journal Energy and Environmental Science.
For a battery to work, it must have the following three key components: an anode (the negative pole), a cathode (the positive pole) and an electrolyte. Most of the batteries used in our electronic equipment today are based on lithium ions.
When the battery charges, the lithium ions leave the cathode and move to the anode. To prevent lithium dendrites forming - a kind of microscopic stalagmite that can induce short circuits in the battery that may cause fire - the anode in commercial batteries consists of graphite rather than metallic lithium, even though this ultra-light metal would increase the amount of energy that can be stored.
The Empa and UNIGE researchers focused on the advantages of a "solid" battery to cope with the heightened demand from emerging markets and to make batteries with even better performance: faster charging together with increased storage capacity and improved safety.
Their battery uses a solid instead of a liquid electrolyte that enables the use of a metal anode by blocking the formation of dendrites, making it possible to store more energy while guaranteeing safety.
A non-flammable solid sodium battery
The researchers discovered that a boron-based substance, a closo-borane, enabled the sodium ions to circulate freely. Furthermore, since the closo-borane is an inorganic conductor, it removes the risk of the battery catching fire while recharging. It is a material, in other words, with numerous promising properties.
"The difficulty was establishing close contact between the battery's three layers: the anode, consisting of solid metallic sodium; the cathode, a mixed sodium chromium oxide; and the electrolyte, the closo-borane," states Leo Duchene, a researcher at Empa's Materials for Energy Conversion lab and a PhD student in the Department of Physical Chemistry at UNIGE's Faculty of Science.
The researchers dissolved part of the battery electrolyte in a solvent before adding the sodium chromium oxide powder. Once the solvent had evaporated, they stacked the cathode powder composite with the electrolyte and anode, compressing the various layers to form the battery.
The team then tested the battery. "The electro-chemical stability of the electrolyte we are using here can withstand three volts, whereas many solid electrolytes previously studied are damaged at the same voltage," says Arndt Remhof, a researcher at Empa and leader of the project, which is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and the Swiss Competence Centre for Energy Research on Heat and Electricity Storage (SCCER-HaE).
The scientists also tested the battery over 250 charge and discharge cycles, after which 85% of the energy capacity was still functional. "But it needs 1,200 cycles before the battery can be put on the market", say the researchers.
"In addition, we still have to test the battery at room temperature so we can confirm whether or not dendrites form, while increasing the voltage even more. Our experiments are still ongoing."
Beijing, Russia (SPX) Nov 29, 2017
Under the environmental concerns such as pollution and greenhouse effect, environment-friendly energy storage applications such as fuel cells, ammonia production and lithium-air batteries are proposed to replace fossil resources. However, the high overpotential is one of the most urgent issues for the practical applications and electrocatalysts are applied to lower overpotential. There are ... read more
Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (EMPA)
Powering The World in the 21st Century at Energy-Daily.com
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement|