This new eco-responsible battery uses algae!

Will the end of lithium batteries be soon? If batteries using this chemical element offer satisfactory performance, it is rare and expensive. In addition, the scientific community is exploring alternatives that reduce costs and minimize the impact on the planet and populations.

Among these alternatives are sodium-metal batteries. In fact, sodium is abundant. Its operation could be more sustainable and could even improve the performance of batteries.

But today, sodium-metal batteries cannot yet replace lithium batteries due to a technical problem that prevents their commercialization.

Sodium has a big drawback

This problem is the dendrites, bulging formations that appear when the battery is used and that perforate the membrane that separates the two electrodes. When this happens, there may be a short circuit.

The good news is that researchers at the University of Bristol in the UK have announced that they have discovered a way to use sodium-metal batteries without risking puncturing this membrane. In collaboration with Imperial College and University College London, they have developed a new separator based on brown algae that prevents the penetration of crystals formed by sodium.

“We have shown that algae-based materials can make the separator very strong and prevent it from being punctured by metallic sodium structures”explains Jing Wang, one of the authors of the scientific publication.

A battery that lasts longer

And this battery not only allows an alternative to lithium to be used, it would also have better storage capacity and a longer lifespan. According to a New Atlas article, the team tested this new algae-based battery and the results were “unprecedented.” In fact, apart from the fact that there was no problem with the separator, despite the use of sodium, the battery retained a high energy density after 1,000 cycles (charge/discharge).

Now the team behind this discovery is looking into production and plans to use the same technique in other types of batteries as well. In any case, for Amaka Onyianta, creator of the algae-based material, it is already a victory for the planet.

“[…] we wouldn’t have to rely on rare materials like lithium, which is often unethically mined and uses a lot of natural resources, like water, to extract it.”she said.

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