The research team at the James Clark Engineering School of University of Maryland has created a water soluble zinc battery. The battery has a strong power, recharging and reliable battery safety. It is expected to be an ideal substitute for the current widely used lithium batteries.
Under the cooperation of the US Army Research Laboratory (ARL) colleagues and the National Institute of standards and Technology (NIST), University of Maryland engineers used the old battery technology (Jin Shuxin) and gave the battery new energy with salt and electrolyte water. The University proposed to use a new electrolyte water solution to replace the flammable organic electrolyte in the traditional lithium ion battery to create more safe batteries. The researchers increased the energy of the water solution battery by adding metal zinc as the anode of the first battery and the electrolyte of its salt.
Batteries based on aqueous solutions may be the key to prevent electrical appliances from causing fires, but their energy storage and capacity are limited. For the first time, there is a battery that can compete with lithium ion batteries in terms of energy density. The advantage is that the battery is not at risk of explosion or fire.
The new water solution zinc batteries will be used not only for consumer electronics, but also in extreme conditions, such as cars, aerospace, military performances, and deep sea environments, the researchers said.
As the most widely used scenario in the actual life of a zinc battery in aqueous solution, Wang Fei, a postdoctoral assistant at the University of Maryland, enumerates the number of mobile phones, laptops and electric cars that have been highlighted in recent media reports. The new battery in this study can increase safety in daily life such as cell phone batteries, not only more storage but even higher density than traditional lithium ion batteries.
It is understood that the highly centralized water zinc battery has also overcome other disadvantages of the traditional zinc battery, such as the limit of the number of batteries, which is due to the use of dendrites (tree structure crystals) in the traditional batteries and the continuous growth of the charging process to cause the consumption of water, and the electrolyte and water of the battery should be replenished regularly.
The university professor of chemical and bioengineering says that existing zinc batteries are safe and relatively cheap, but they are not the most perfect because of long cycles and low energy density. We use salt water to overcome these challenges.
In addition, in the joint experiment, the researchers also found the fundamental cause of the irreversibility of the zinc battery, which was observed in the use of rechargeable batteries - that the battery's charge at the rated voltage decreased with the decrease in the amount of use, and a new solution was found. The secret is to change the solvent ball structure of zinc cation (positively charged).
Because most of the water molecules in the new electrolyte are firmly bonded to highly concentrated salts, the electrolyte of the water zinc battery will not evaporate in the opening. Completely transformed into zinc air battery, which is made of oxygen Zinc Oxide in the air, Zinc Oxide is widely used in energy storage.
The research team said that the progress of this battery technology laid the foundation for subsequent research and is expected to be commercialized in the future.
If it can be recharged, zinc batteries can provide a powerful and cheap means of energy storage. This study reveals how to control which molecules in the electrolyte are surrounded by ions moving back and forth in the battery during storage and release of energy. This technology allows traditional zinc batteries to be recharged and provide low-cost, safe alternatives for electronic products, automobiles and power grid storage.
The major discoveries in this work have touched on the core issues of zinc batteries and have made new challenges such as the chemical effects of magnesium and aluminum batteries in water-soluble or non water-soluble polyvalent cations.
It is reported that the paper based on this research was published in the April 16th issue of Nature Materials magazine.