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article imageExtending battery life through low-cost material

By Tim Sandle     Jun 25, 2017 in Technology
The limitation with the life-time of batteries remains a big frustration for consumers, especially as our reliance upon electronic devices increases. Several projects are underway to make batteries last longer. We look at one of the latest ideas.
Batteries not only have limited power, they can often malfunction, perform badly in different temperatures and carry the risk of catching fire. A new, relatively inexpensive inorganic material can potentially help to address these malaises of the technological world. This comes from the University of Houston.
The research centers on materials called quinones, which are common to the planet and which are easily recyclable. The aim was to fashion a stable anode composite to be used with aqueous rechargeable batteries. Quinones are a class of organic compounds, derived from aromatic compounds. A large scale industrial application of quinones is for the production of hydrogen peroxide
The study into these organic compounds has been led by Professor Yan Yao. In a research brief the academic notes: "This new material is cheap and chemically stable in such a corrosive environment.” This leads to improved energy storage, of a scale designed to meet the need for bigger and more powerful batteries such as powering electric cars.
READ MORE: New process makes batteries from scrap metal
Here the organic material also can be deployed as a "drop-in replacement" for current battery anodes. The advantage of this is that it has no impact upon existing battery manufacturing processes, meaning that if it becomes commercialized moving into production is relatively straightforward. The cost of manufacturing is also relatively low, with the quinone required costing only $2 per kilogram.
A further advantage is with safety, including lowering fire risk. The aqueous rechargeable batteries would be made from nonflammable water-based electrolytes, and thus be far safe than lithium-ion batteries based on volatile organic electrolytes (lithium ion batteries are the most common type of battery in consumer electronics, based on the displacement of lithium ions). This new battery set-up can function across a broad range of temperatures.
Currently the new technology is being filed with the U.S. patent office; once accepted the aim is to commercialize the technology.
The new research is published in the journal Nature Materials under the heading “Universal quinone electrodes for long cycle life aqueous rechargeable batteries.”
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