Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors
Heifer International



Home > Press > Making disorder for an ideal battery: Manufacturing safer, more powerful batteries that use geopolitically stable resources requires solid electrolytes and replacing lithium with sodium. A chemical solution is now being offered to battery developers.

Three-dimensional surface of sodium ion diffusion in a hydroborate crystal. This new material forms a disordered yet highly symmetrical structure, allowing a mobility of sodium comparable to that of lithium in commercial battery.

CREDIT
© UNIGE/Brighi
Three-dimensional surface of sodium ion diffusion in a hydroborate crystal. This new material forms a disordered yet highly symmetrical structure, allowing a mobility of sodium comparable to that of lithium in commercial battery. CREDIT © UNIGE/Brighi

Abstract:
The lithium batteries that power our electronic devices and electric vehicles have a number of drawbacks. The electrolyte - the medium that enables electrons and positive charges to move between the electrodes - is a flammable liquid. What's more, the lithium they're made of is a limited resource that is the focus of major geopolitical issues. Specialists in crystallography at the University of Geneva (UNIGE) have developed a non-flammable, solid electrolyte that operates at room temperature. It transports sodium - which is found everywhere on earth - instead of lithium. It's a winning combination that also means it is possible to manufacture batteries that are more powerful. The properties of these «ideal» batteries would be based on the crystalline structure of the electrolyte, a hydroborate consisting of boron and hydrogen. The UNIGE research team has published a real toolbox in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science containing the strategy for manufacturing solid electrolytes intended for battery developers.

Making disorder for an ideal battery: Manufacturing safer, more powerful batteries that use geopolitically stable resources requires solid electrolytes and replacing lithium with sodium. A chemical solution is now being offered to battery developers.

Geneva, Switzerland | Posted on October 16th, 2020

The challenge of storing energy is colossal for sustainability initiatives. Indeed, the development of electric vehicles that do not emit greenhouse gases hinges on the existence of powerful, safe batteries, just as the development of renewable energies - solar and wind - depends on energy storage capacities. Lithium batteries are the current answer to these challenges. Unfortunately, lithium requires liquid electrolytes, which are highly explosive in the event of a leak. «What's more, lithium isn't found everywhere on earth, and it creates geopolitical issues similar to those surrounding oil. Sodium is a good candidate to replace it because it has chemical and physical properties close to lithium and is found everywhere», argues Fabrizio Murgia, a post-doctoral fellow in UNIGE's Faculty of Sciences.

Too high a temperature

The two elements - sodium and lithium - are near each other in the Periodic Table. «The problem is that sodium is heavier than its cousin lithium. That means it has difficulty making its way around in the battery electrolyte», adds Matteo Brighi, a post-doctoral fellow at UNIGE and the study's first author. Accordingly, there is a need to develop electrolytes capable of transporting cations such as sodium. In 2013 and 2014, Japanese and American research groups identified hydroborates as good sodium conductors at over 120°C. At first glance, this is an excessive temperature for everyday use of batteries... but a godsend for the Geneva laboratory!

With decades of expertise in hydroborates used in applications such as hydrogen storage, the Geneva crystallographers set about working on lowering the conduction temperature. «We obtained very good results with excellent properties compatible with batteries. We succeeded in using hydroborates as an electrolyte from room temperature to 250 degrees Celsius with no safety issues. What's more, they resist higher potential differences, meaning the batteries can store more energy», continues Radovan Cerny, a professor in UNIGE's Laboratory of Crystallography and project leader.

The solution: a disorder

Crystallography - a science positioned between mineralogy, physics and chemistry - is used to analyse and understand the structures of chemical substances and predict their properties. Thanks to crystallography, it is possible to design materials. It is this crystallographic approach that was used to implement the manufacturing strategies published by the trio of Geneva-based researchers. «Our article offers examples of structures that can be used to create and disrupt the hydroborates», says Murgia. The structure of the hydroborates allows spheres of boron and negatively-charged hydrogen to emerge. These spherical spaces leave enough room for positively-charged sodium ions to pass. «Nevertheless, as the negative and positive charges attract each other, we needed to create disorder in the structure to disrupt the hydroborates and allow the sodium to move», continues Brighi.

###

The article is a toolkit designed for battery developers. It should give rise to a new generation of batteries that are more stable and more powerful. Switzerland is home to genuine expertise exists thanks to the close collaboration between UNIGE and EMPA in Dübendorf. The two institutions are currently working on creating a solid, 4V sodium battery, which will be more powerful than the 3V released in 2019. An authentic «Made in Switzerland» product!

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Matteo Brighi

41-223-796-295

@UNIGEnews

Copyright © University of Geneva

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

RELATED JOURNAL ARTICLE:

Related News Press

News and information

Controlling chemical catalysts with sculpted light January 15th, 2021

Conductive nature in crystal structures revealed at magnification of 10 million times: University of Minnesota study opens up possibilities for new transparent materials that conduct electricity January 15th, 2021

Quantum computers to study the functioning of the molecules of life: A team of theoretical physicists from the University of Trento has shown that it is possible to use quantum computers to simulate processes of great biological importance, such as changes in the shape of protein January 15th, 2021

Keeping the costs of superconducting magnets down using ultrasound: Scientists show ultrasonication is a cost-effective approach to enhance the properties of magnesium diboride superconductors January 15th, 2021

Possible Futures

Scientists' discovery is paving the way for novel ultrafast quantum computers January 15th, 2021

Physicists propose a new theory to explain one dimensional quantum liquids formation January 15th, 2021

Controlling chemical catalysts with sculpted light January 15th, 2021

Conductive nature in crystal structures revealed at magnification of 10 million times: University of Minnesota study opens up possibilities for new transparent materials that conduct electricity January 15th, 2021

Announcements

Controlling chemical catalysts with sculpted light January 15th, 2021

Conductive nature in crystal structures revealed at magnification of 10 million times: University of Minnesota study opens up possibilities for new transparent materials that conduct electricity January 15th, 2021

Quantum computers to study the functioning of the molecules of life: A team of theoretical physicists from the University of Trento has shown that it is possible to use quantum computers to simulate processes of great biological importance, such as changes in the shape of protein January 15th, 2021

Keeping the costs of superconducting magnets down using ultrasound: Scientists show ultrasonication is a cost-effective approach to enhance the properties of magnesium diboride superconductors January 15th, 2021

Interviews/Book Reviews/Essays/Reports/Podcasts/Journals/White papers/Posters

Controlling chemical catalysts with sculpted light January 15th, 2021

Conductive nature in crystal structures revealed at magnification of 10 million times: University of Minnesota study opens up possibilities for new transparent materials that conduct electricity January 15th, 2021

Quantum computers to study the functioning of the molecules of life: A team of theoretical physicists from the University of Trento has shown that it is possible to use quantum computers to simulate processes of great biological importance, such as changes in the shape of protein January 15th, 2021

Keeping the costs of superconducting magnets down using ultrasound: Scientists show ultrasonication is a cost-effective approach to enhance the properties of magnesium diboride superconductors January 15th, 2021

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Record-setting thermoelectric figure of merit achieved for metal oxides December 29th, 2020

New imaging method views soil carbon at near-atomic scales December 25th, 2020

New class of cobalt-free cathodes could enhance energy density of next-gen lithium-ion batteries December 21st, 2020

Stretchable micro-supercapacitors to self-power wearable devices December 11th, 2020

Research partnerships

Chemists invent shape-shifting nanomaterial with biomedical potential It converts from sheets to tubes and back in a controllable fashion January 13th, 2021

Nanocrystals that eradicate bacteria biofilm January 8th, 2021

Quantum wave in helium dimer filmed for the first time: Collaboration between Goethe University and the University of Oklahoma December 30th, 2020

Researchers develop new way to break reciprocity law: The breakthrough makes a significant step forward in photonics and microwave technology by eliminating the need for bulky magnets December 29th, 2020

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project