In the fight against climate change, electric vehicles and other renewable sources are using lithium-ion batteries heavily to store energy and power vehicles. However, the metal is very expensive and mined only in just a handful of countries. To solve these issues scientists are working hard to find other metals that can replace and provide greater benefits.
Focus on dealing with the downsides of Lithium-ion batteries started in recent years. Each year more than 1000 papers are published trying to provide a better solution and introduce Zinc metal which is cheaper, easy to mine, and available in many countries.
Rechargeable Zinc batteries have entered the market recently, but they have limited energy storing capacity. While lithium-ion batteries are typically used a flammable liquid electrolyte. Additionally, lithium-ion megawatt batteries need pricey cooling and fire-suppression technology, making them unreliable to scale globally.
Zinc flow cell batteries are making an impact on the market, but they need extra complex valves, pumps, and tanks to operate the batteries. Researchers are working on new improved technology to create a new variety of zinc batteries called zinc-air cells.
These batteries use a water-based electrolyte spiked along with potassium hydroxide and another material of alkaline that separates zinc anode with a cathode. During the discharge process, oxygen in the air reacts with water at the cathode and forms hydroxide ions.
Recharging a battery means reversing the flow of current and creating re-form on the anode. Researchers are working on more challenges posed by the metal to develop it into an ultimate replacement for batteries in electric vehicles and other places where the need for rechargeable batteries will grow in the future.
Researcher Wang and his colleagues published that adding a fluorine-containing salt to their electrolyte when it reacted with the zinc forms a solid zinc fluoride barrier around the anode. The barrier created prevents dendrites’ growth and repels water molecules and blocks them.
This new development is seen as an important breakthrough in the future of zinc as a rechargeable battery. Many researchers are planning to use the same strategy and solve the discharge issue seen in the zinc batteries.