Researchers Create Magnesium-Ion Batteries That Don't Explode

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Nowadays only one thing threatens many people about the Li-ion batteries is that they are used in a variety of electronic devices and can explode because they house liquid electrolyte. However, now a group of scientists have discovered a way to develop Magnesium-Ion batteries that don’t explode.

Researchers Create Magnesium-Ion Batteries That Don’t Explode

Technology evolves at an amazing pace but at its core, it is an essential element: energy. Energy extraction is not the only thing which is necessary, but also in the modern world, it is crucial to develop where energy is stored. Batteries, in this way, gain importance and relevance never before imagined.

The future may not pass through the lithium-ions and may also not pass through the sodium ions. According to experts, the holy grail of batteries are the magnesium ions. And, it seems, it’s a step closer to being real.

Solid state magnesium-ion battery = performance and safety

A team of Department of Energy (DOE) scientists at the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR) discovered the fastest solid-state conductor of magnesium ions, an important step in the production of solid state magnesium ion batteries, which makes it possible to manufacture both high density and high-security batteries.

The electrolyte, which carries the charge back and forth between the cathode and the anode of the battery, is a liquid in all commercial batteries, which makes them potentially flammable, especially in lithium-ion batteries. A solid-state conductor, which has the potential to become an electrolyte, would be much more resistant to fire.

DOE researchers at the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, in conjunction with the Argonne National Laboratory in the United States, worked on a magnesium battery, which offers higher energy density than lithium, but was blocked by the scarcity of good options for a liquid electrolyte, most of which tends to be corrosive against other parts of the battery.

“Magnesium is such a new technology that it does not have any good liquid electrolytes. So we thought, why not jump and make a solid-state electrolyte?” Said Gerbrand Ceder, senior scientist at Berkeley Lab.

The material that has been presented, magnesium scandium selenide spinel, has magnesium mobility comparable to existing solid-state electrolytes for lithium batteries. The results were reported in Nature Communications, in an article entitled “Mobility high magnesium content chalcogenides of spinel ternary”.

The DOE Innovation Center sponsored the study and the lead authors are Pieremanue Canepa and Shou-Hang Bo, researchers at the Berkeley Lab.

“With the help of a concerted effort that brings together computational methodologies of materials science, synthesis and a variety of characterization techniques, we have identified a new class of solid conductors that can carry magnesium ions at an unprecedented rate,” said one of the leading researchers of this technology, Pieremanuele Canepa.

Collaboration between MIT and Argonne

The research team also included MIT scientists who brought in computational resources. The Argonne National Laboratory provided the key (experimental) confirmation of the magnesium scandium selenide spinel material to document its structure and function.

Co-author Baris Key, a research chemist in Argonne, performed nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. These tests were the first steps to experimentally prove that magnesium ions could move through the material as quickly as theoretical studies had predicted.

Nuclear magnetic resonance imaging is similar to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which is commonly used in medical environments, where it shows hydrogen atoms of water in human muscles, nerves, adipose tissue and other biological substances. Researchers can also adjust the NMR frequency to detect other elements, including the lithium or magnesium ions found in battery materials.

The NMR data of the magnesium scandium selenide material, however, involved material of unknown structure with complex properties, rendering them challenging to interpret.

The researchers have had many difficulties in research because the materials are so new that the protocols are basically nonexistent. They also noted that these findings were only possible by combining a multi-technique approach when using such solid state and synchrotron magnetic resonance measurements, as well as conventional electrochemical characterization.

The synchrotron is a cyclic particle accelerator, in which an electric field is responsible for the acceleration of the particles and a magnetic field is responsible for the change of direction of the particles.

The team plans to develop more work to use the driver on a battery. “This probably has a long way to go before we can make a battery, but it is the first demonstration that we can make solid materials with good magnesium mobility through that path. Magnesium is thought to move slowly in most solids, so no one thought that would be possible” stated referred researcher Ceder.

Shou-Hang Bo, now an adjunct professor at Jiao Tong University in Shanghai, said the discovery could have a dramatic effect on the energetic landscape. “This work brought together a fine team of scientists from various scientific disciplines and took the first stab at the formidable challenge of building a solid-state magnesium battery,” he said. “While it’s in its infancy, this emerging technology can have a transformative impact on energy storage in the near future.”

However, there are still huge industrial efforts are required to make this research into a solid state battery. Of course, this level of development is seen as the Holy Grail of batteries, because it brings performance and security, everything that is sought in a modern battery.

So, what do you think about this? Simply share your views and thoughts in the comment section below.

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