Lithium-ion is not going down without a fight, and researchers are still finding new ways to improve the technology.
However, this new PNNL energy storage solution could easily win on cost as well as energy density.
This new energy storage breakthrough is based on the familiar zinc-manganese formula. The researchers started from scratch and built their own battery with the aim of finding out exactly why the manganese sloughs off. After subjecting it to chemical and structural analysis, they decided to rethink their entire approach.
In a lithium-ion battery, lithium ions are simply passed back and forth between two electrodes.
This new study revealed that when a zinc-manganese battery goes through charging cycles, it does something entirely different: The active materials in the battery undergo a reversible chemical reaction and create a new material, zinc hydroxyl sulfate.
A rechargeable non-toxic alternative
The PNNL team developed a strategy for slowing down the rate at which manganese could detach from the electrode:
…they added manganese ions to the electrolyte in a new test battery and put the revised battery through another round of tests.
This time around, the test battery was able to reach a storage capacity of 285 milliAmpere-hours per gram of manganese oxide over 5,000 cycles, while retaining 92% of its initial storage capacity.
α-MnO2 and H+
During the demonstration,a highly reversible zinc/manganese oxide system in which optimal mild aqueous ZnSO4-based solution is used as the electrolyte, and nanofibres of a manganese oxide phase, α-MnO2, are used as the cathode.
- The researchers showed that a chemical conversion reaction mechanism between α-MnO2 and H+ is mainly responsible for the good performance of the system.
- The team also found that the zinc anode was highly stable.
- The new PNNL energy storage solution could easily win on cost as well as energy density.
Link to the report in the journal Nature Energy under the title ‘Reversible aqueous zinc/manganese oxide energy storage from conversion reactions‘.
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