We report on lithium-ion batteries frequently. Lithium-ion batteries are somewhat difficult to produce and require expensive and scarce raw materials.
So far only as a possible backup source for renewable energies
The prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has designed a battery made from cheap and abundantly available materials that could provide low-cost backup storage for renewable energy.
Indeed, more and more renewable energy facilities are being built. So the need for backup power sources that provide stored energy when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing for solar plants is growing rapidly. Today’s lithium-ion batteries are still too expensive for most of these applications, and their scarcity is being fuelled by their use in electric cars
So we can’t yet talk about this solution becoming mass-produced for electric vehicles, but it is certainly on the cards for the future. However, as countries try to move towards a completely green form of energy production, this solution may also seem very useful.
MIT senior professor Donald Sadoway said of his proposal:
“I wanted to invent something that was better, much better, than lithium-ion batteries for small-scale stationary storage, and ultimately for automotive [uses]”
So what is the new battery all about?
The new battery, which is significantly cheaper, is made up of common materials that are easily available.
Specifically, it is aluminum, which is the most widely used element on earth and will replace the scarce lithium in the new type of battery. Another component is a substance that is normally only a waste product of, for example, oil refining, namely sulfur. The final ingredient is widely available molten salts, which serve as the electrolyte.
There was a lot of research into the choice of electrolyte and the research team mainly did not want to use what causes fires in conventional lithium-ion batteries. So they tried to use different polymers, but they didn’t work, so they switched to different molten salts that have a low melting point.
Professor Sadoway said.
“We did not want to use volatile and flammable organic liquids, which have sometimes led to dangerous fires in cars and other lithium-ion battery applications. Our ingredients are cheap and the whole thing is safe – it can’t burn.”
In their experiments, the team demonstrated that their battery cells can last hundreds of cycles at extremely high charging rates, with an estimated cost per cell of about one-sixth that of comparable lithium-ion cells.
You can read a more detailed chemical composition and a more detailed description of the whole architecture of this new battery in this article.