In Germany, a team from the MEET Battery Research Center at Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität (WWU) Münster is working on the further development of zinc-air batteries. A team of researchers have created an electrolyte that should make the battery more stable. The team has now published the details of their findings in the journal Science.
Zinc-air batteries are considered powerful, environmentally friendly, safe and inexpensive. The big drawback, however, is that they are very unstable. The research team from Münster explains this in a short introductory press release on the occasion of the research progress: “Until now, the conventional zinc-air battery has struggled with a high chemical instability, parasitic reactions which rooted in the usage of alkaline electrolytes lead to electrochemical irreversibility.”
According to the scientists, they have developed a non-alkaline aqueous electrolyte based on the salt of zinc trifluoromethanesulfonate, which “should overcome the previous technical weaknesses.” This involves a previously unknown reversible zinc-peroxide (ZnO2)/O2 chemistry. Thanks to this innovation, zinc-air batteries could operate stably for 320 cycles and 1,600 hours in the environment.
The team interprets the research results to mean that the zinc-air battery has the potential to compete with the market-dominating lithium-ion battery. “The zinc-air battery provides a potential alternative battery technology with advantages such as environmental friendliness, high safety and low costs,” project leader Wei Sun points out. “This technology still requires further, intensive research and optimisation before its practical application,” he says, putting the brakes on expectations. The detailed results of the international project, which also involved researchers from Fudan University in Shanghai, the University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, the University of Maryland and the US Army Research Laboratory, have now been published in the journal Science.
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