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What, Why and How: New Battery Technologies

Aug 30, 2022

Producing sustainable energy is something we should strive for. But storing that energy is hard and expensive. This is where new and improved batteries come in. Here's short a primer on the most promising ones.

1. Lithium-ion batteries - They have a high energy density, and low self-discharge, which is why they’re so widespread today. Despite their benefits, they are safety hazard as they contain flammable electrolytes. They are also expensive... and unethical.

2. Lithium-sulfur batteries - They still use lithium, but do away with cobalt. They instead use sulfur to make up the cathodes. These batteries lower environmental impacts and manufacturing costs while reducing the battery’s weight and providing high energy density.

3. Metal-Air Batteries - They an anode made from pure metal and an external cathode of ambient air. The specific capacity and energy density of metal–air batteries is higher than that of lithium-ion batteries, making them a prime candidate for use in electric vehicles.

4. Sodium-Ion batteries - They don't use lithium, cobalt, copper or nickel. As such, they have received a lot of interest over the past decade because of the uneven geographic distribution, high environmental impact and high cost of these elements. Salt is cheap, too.

5. Nanowire batteries - They would increase the surface area of the electrodes in contact with the electrolyte, thereby increasing the anode’s power density and allowing for faster charging and higher delivery. Nanowires are usually made of silicon, but gold is also very promising.

6. Solid-state batteries - Most batteries use liquid electrolytes. But the Holy Grail is solid-state batteries — batteries with solid electrolytes. They would improve safety levels and permit the use of new materials enabling denser, lighter batteries with better shelf-life.

NextGen batteries will need to be cheaply produced at a large scale. They will need to have a long life-span to avoid them ending in landfills. They will also be dependent on the chargers we use, a technology the still needs to evolve. We’ve got our work cut out for us.

This article is a very short summary of a longer article which you can find by clicking this link. I encourage you read it if you enjoyed the above.

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