New Nanostructured Alloy Could Revolutionize Aqueous Battery Manufacturing

The use of zinc could transfer twice as many charges than lithium to improve the battery's energy density


Researchers at the Oregon State University College of Engineering have claimed to develop a battery anode based on new zinc and manganese-based nanostructured alloy that could change the way of designing and manufacturing aqueous batteries.

The researchers said aqueous batteries, which utilize the water-based conducting solution as the electrolytes, are an attractive and much safer alternative than lithium-ion batteries.

Electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries are dissolved in organic solvents that are flammable and usually decompose at high operating voltages. Moreover, the growth of lithium dendrite at the electrode-electrolyte interface can cause a short between the electrodes.

In contrast, aqueous electrolytes are environmental-friendly, affordable, capable of fast charging and high-power densities, and highly tolerant of mishandling. However, aqueous batteries’ large-scale use is restrained because of their limited output voltage and low-energy density compared to other battery technologies, the researchers said in a report.

New Nanostructured Alloy Could Revolutionize Aqueous Battery Manufacturing

The researchers said that the newly developed battery anode based on new three-dimensional (3D) zinc and manganese-based nanostructured alloy could resolve these issues. The use of zinc could transfer twice as many charges than lithium to improve the battery’s energy density.

Zhenxing Feng, a chemical engineer and researcher at Oregon State University, explained, “The use of alloy with its unique nanostructure suppresses dendrite formation by controlling the surface reaction thermodynamics and the reaction kinetics. It also demonstrates super-high stability over thousands of cycles under harsh electrochemical conditions.”

The researchers also examined the aqueous battery using seawater as the electrolyte instead of high purity deionized water. They said it has the commercial potential for large-scale manufacturing of these batteries.

To trace atomic and chemical changes of the anode in different operation phases, the researchers utilized imaging and x-ray absorption spectroscopy and confirmed the functioning of 3D alloy in a battery.

The researchers stated that theoretical and experimental studies proved that the 3D alloy anode had unprecedented interfacial stability, achieved by a favorable diffusion channel of zinc on the alloy surface.

“The concept demonstrated in this collaborative work is likely to bring a paradigm shift in the design of high-performance alloy anodes for aqueous and non-aqueous batteries, revolutionizing the battery industry,” said Feng.

In July 2020, researchers at Stanford University claimed they had developed a new electrolyte design that boosts lithium metal batteries’ performance, increasing the driving range of electric vehicles.

Mercom had reported in April 2020 that Japanese researchers had developed a new electrode material that was intended to make lithium batteries cheaper, more stable, and capable of holding more charge for longer periods.

Harsh Shukla is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Indian Express, he has covered general interest stories. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune.

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