Potassium-driven rechargeable batteries: An effort toward a more sustainable environment

phys.org | 9/25/2019 | Staff
marishamarisha (Posted by) Level 3
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Our modern lifestyle would be immensely different without rechargeable batteries. Owing to their low-cost, recyclable technology, these batteries are used in most portable electronic devices, electric and hybrid vehicles, and renewable power generation systems. They offer an elegant solution to the world's growing energy demands. Moreover, rechargeable batteries are an essential tool in systems that harvest renewable energy, such as the wind and sunlight, because these sources can fluctuate greatly with the weather. Rechargeable batteries store generated electricity and dispatch it on demand. Thus, researchers globally have been focused on improving rechargeable batteries as a step toward sustainable energy resources.

Since their commercialization, lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have been the go-to rechargeable batteries because of their excellent performance. However, with the ensuing spike in their demand, coupled with the limited availability of lithium and cobalt (another necessary element for LIBs), using LIBs may soon become a major problem. So a team of scientists at Tokyo University of Science, led by Prof Shinichi Komaba, decided to walk the road less traveled: They focused on replacing the exhaustible element lithium with better alternatives like sodium and potassium. Sodium and potassium are in the same alkali metal group in the periodic table of elements, and their chemical natures are, therefore, quite similar. But, unlike lithium, these elements are widely abundant on Earth, and using them to develop high-performance rechargeable batteries would be a breakthrough toward a more sustainable society.

Prof - Komaba - Prof - M - Stanley

In 2014, Prof Komaba, along with Prof M. Stanley Whittingham, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2019, analyzed the current state of development of sodium-ion batteries and published his assessments as a review. This became a highly cited study, with over 2,000 citations only in the past 5 years. Prof Komaba and his team then explored other plausible alternative to LIBs, potassium-ion batteries (KIBs), which...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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