Liquid batteries could last for over 10 years
Batteries have become an integral part of our lives. Not only are they found in our phones, laptops, tablets, cars and kitchen appliances, but they’re also a key part of making renewable energy viable as a long-term solution to our power requirements. Battery technology has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years, but one problem still remains – longevity.
When using a battery regularly, there’s a noticeable drop-off in both capacity and discharge within a year or so of its life. However, if this research from a team of Harvard scientists comes to market, batteries as we once knew them may well be a thing of the past.
A Harvard team of researchers have developed a “flow battery”, a battery designed to store energy in liquid solutions instead of solid lithium-ion packs. By storing energy in liquids, these batteries should retain their capacity and discharge rates for well over a decade.
The research team discovered that, by modifying molecules in the electrolytes ferrocene and viologen, they could develop stable, water-soluble charged particles that are resistant to degradation. The team’s findings uncovered that when these particles are dissolved in neutral water, the solution loses only 1% of its capacity every 1,000 cycles – for comparison, a standard lithium-ion battery may last only 1,000 cycles in its lifetime.
Basing battery technology around electrified water may sound rather dangerous, but in reality the use of water makes battery packs far safer than the current acidic models used today. For one, it’s non-corrosive and isn’t toxic, meaning no more dangerous exploding smartphones in your pocket. Using water will also severely drop the cost of manufacturing, ensuring battery-based energy storage solutions finally become cost-effective.
There are currently no plans to bring these flow batteries to market, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there aren’t already manufacturers out there eyeing up the potential new technology.