Dense, safer and cheaper batteries than the classic lithium ion batteries by replacing them with magnesium. It is what the industry has been looking for for years and what is now closer to becoming a reality thanks to a pioneering research project developed by scientists in the United States.
The “holy grail” of batteries, researchers say about this breakthrough, which has led to the discovery of the fastest solid-state magnesium ion conductor to date. To get there, this research team from the United States Department of Energy and the Berkeley Lab, which has also had the collaboration of, among others, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), had to address and tackle the problems facing the magnesium for use in batteries.
In an area where the electrolytes that move battery charges are liquid, how can you bet on a material like magnesium, which offers little prospect for electrolytes in that state? The question is answered by Gerbrand Ceder, a Berkeley Lab scientist participating in the project. “We thought, why not jump in and create a solid state electrolyte?” And, with this, began the work that has led this team to find a new magnesium-based material that offers mobility comparable to that of solid electrolytes for lithium batteries. Of course, with the addition that magnesium has the potential to offer more energy density than lithium.
“We have identified a new class of solid conductors that can transport magnesium ions at an unprecedented speed”, highlights Pieremanuele Canepa, another of the participants in a project that was tested through nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, something It was not easy due to the novelty of the material and the unknown of its structure and properties.
However, the work undertaken will not be there because, as explained from this team, although innovation is in a very initial state, this emerging technology “can transform energy storage in the near future” .
To do this, the small leaks of electrons detected in the material will have to be corrected before continuing to take steps towards a solid-state magnesium battery that, until now, few had imagined. “It has always been believed that magnesium moves slowly in most solids, so no one had thought that this would be possible,” says Ceder about a project that, like many, seeks the definitive answer to the energy storage of affordable and safe way.