New Zinc Battery Offers Efficient, Safe Alternative to Lithium-ion Batteries

New Zinc Battery Offers Efficient, Safe Alternative to Lithium-ion Batteries

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Researchers have made a groundbreaking discovery in battery technology, finding a way to create an efficient battery using zinc, a readily available and inexpensive metal, instead of the rare metals typically used in lithium batteries.

 Current rechargeable batteries, such as lithium-ion batteries, rely on costly metals like cobalt and nickel, as reported by Tech Xplore. However, with the growing popularity of electric vehicles (EVs) and large-scale energy storage, the demand for these metals is skyrocketing, resulting in exorbitant costs due to their scarcity.

In response, numerous researchers are actively exploring cheaper alternatives to reduce or replace these metals. Notably, a Chinese company has developed a sodium battery-powered car, while a University of Maryland researcher has invented a partially biodegradable battery made from zinc and crab shells. Surprisingly, researchers have also discovered two methods of energy storage using ordinary sand.

According to Tech Xplore, a new project led by Xiulei "David" Ji from Oregon State University presents yet another promising alternative to lithium-ion batteries: accessible and efficient zinc metal batteries.

The key lies in a novel electrolyte developed by Ji and his team, as explained by Tech Xplore. The battery electrolyte is a liquid that facilitates the chemical reactions involved in energy storage and release. Previously, zinc batteries suffered from inefficient electrolytes, resulting in significant energy loss through unwanted chemical reactions. Furthermore, these batteries generated hazardous hydrogen gas, rendering zinc impractical for rechargeable batteries.

Fortunately, Ji's team has devised a new electrolyte formula that nearly eliminates these undesirable reactions, Tech Xplore reports. It forms a protective coating on the zinc component, preventing energy loss of this nature. This protective coating is akin to what enables lithium-ion batteries to release over 99% of their charging energy. In fact, the new zinc battery releases an impressive 99.95% of its charged energy in each cycle.

Beyond its efficiency, the zinc battery also boasts enhanced safety compared to its lithium-ion counterparts, according to Tech Xplore. The new electrolyte is non-flammable, unlike the combustible electrolytes commonly used in lithium-ion batteries. Moreover, both zinc and the electrolyte components are more abundant and affordable than the materials employed in lithium-ion batteries.

"This breakthrough represents a significant advancement toward making zinc metal batteries more accessible to consumers," Ji stated in an interview with OSU News and Research Communications. "These batteries are essential for the installation of additional solar and wind farms. In addition, they offer a secure and efficient solution for home energy storage, as well as energy storage modules for communities that are vulnerable to natural disasters."

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