Scientists are working on a new renewable energy source

renewable energy source, battery
© Alexander Levchenko

Renewable energy sources are the environmentally ideal way to proceed, which includes massive lithium batteries that can be recharged – scientists are now looking to solve the scarcity problem of using lithium as a base

The situation of climate change is well-known by now, but the startling consequences continue to emerge.

When a butterfly beats its wings

Yesterday, research revealed that the tropical rain belt (responsible for the crops of billions of people) was slowly moving North. This will leave countless people without access to a secure source of food. In another study, it was found that those same countries are facing food shortages and economic failures due to the attempts of private sector companies to run their lands. Ironically, these failures are a result of huge land deals were supposed to solve the problem of food insecurity after the global food crisis in the early 2000s.

Beyond rural and indigenous populations, there are those who live in cities. Urban-dwellers have been left out of climate calculations done on regional scales, for as long as they have existed. Cities contain 50% of the world’s population, but cover only 3% of the Earth. Urban populations experience a continuing health deterioration can be seen in COVID fatality figures – those with complications in their lungs are often living in proximity of severe pollution, way above the WHO recommended average.

How can renewable energy sources help the above populations?

It seems surreal that Indigenous communities living in Cuba are harmed because of the kind of battery used in Germany or France. But this is the world we live in – where the energy decisions of one population cause an escalation of impact on another, usually more vulnerable population located in the Global South.

When renewable energy is created, often it has to be stored for future use as opposed to immediately redirected to the necessary places.

With these industrial batteries, scientists have always been capable of creating the immense, lithium type. But while lithium-ion batteries can do the job, but they suffer from safety issues and limited lithium availability. That puts a significant time limit on their use, despite the lack of carbon emissions involved in their power.

Renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, could help decrease the world’s reliance on fossil fuels. But first, power companies need a safe, cost-effective way to store the energy for later use. Now, researchers reporting in ACS’ Nano Letters have made a prototype of an anode-free, zinc-based battery that uses low-cost, naturally abundant materials.

This new battery retains 62.8% of its storage capacity after 80 charges

In their battery, the researchers used a manganese dioxide cathode that they pre-intercalated with zinc ions, an aqueous zinc trifluoromethanesulfonate electrolyte solution and a copper foil current collector.

During charging, zinc metal gets plated onto the copper foil, and during discharging the metal is stripped off, releasing electrons that power the battery. To prevent dendrites from forming, the researchers coated the copper current collector with a layer of carbon nanodiscs. This layer promoted uniform zinc plating, thereby preventing dendrites, and increased the efficiency of zinc plating and stripping. The battery showed high efficiency, energy density and stability, retaining 62.8% of its storage capacity after 80 charging and discharging cycles.

The anode-free battery design opens new directions for using aqueous zinc-based batteries in energy storage systems, the researchers say.

The American Chemical Society are excited to pursue the creation of this new battery.


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