February 1, 2023

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Will lithium-ion batteries become a thing of the past?  There is a zinc alternative lurking around the corner

Will lithium-ion batteries become a thing of the past? There is a zinc alternative lurking around the corner

Chinese scientists have conducted a comprehensive review of the scientific achievements to date in zinc batteries and all of their various forms. Share their ideas in a science journal Nano research energy.

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Lithium-ion batteries are dominant in the “battery” market today. They are used in electric vehicles or energy storage. However, it is not without flaws. It is not only the limited natural resources of lithium that are the problem, but also the high cost of producing the batteries. In addition, its low energy density completely precludes its use in long-distance sea and air transportation. This is why planes and ships continue to rely on conventional fuels that pollute the atmosphere and oceans.

Zinc batteries in commercial use? There are some difficulties that must be overcome first

For several years, intensive work has been done to improve zinc batteries, which have a chance to become new winners in the race. Many of them, such as those in zinc-nickel, zinc-manganese, offer high ionic conductivity, so the risk of ignition is reduced. Moreover, they are much cheaper to produce.

Unfortunately, as the scientists point out, another problem with zinc batteries is their low capacity and limited lifespan. Lithium-ion equivalents can maintain high performance even after 150 charge cycles.

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In addition, zinc batteries are characterized by the appearance of dendrites, which cause short circuits. Furthermore, by-products such as zinc oxide can precipitate during charge cycles and cannot be reincorporated into battery processes. Also, the electrolytes in these batteries wear out relatively quickly.

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These basic problems listed by the researchers aim to show in what aspects there is still a lot of work to be done to make zinc “batteries” better and, above all, suitable for commercial use, which is not entirely possible at the moment.