Researchers belonging to an overseas Nottingham University campus have developed a new type of rechargeable battery with salt as its key ingredient.
Researchers from Nottingham’s Ningbo China campus (UNNC) have joined forces with the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (SINAP) to design a novel energy store that outlasts conventional batteries.
The collaboration led by SINAP Professor Jiangiang Wang and UNNC Professor George Chen used a novel and affordable rechargeable iron-oxygen battery containing a bi-phase electrolyte of molten carbonate and solid oxide.
According to Dr Cheng Peng, first author of the paper, the new design merges the merits of a solid-oxide fuel cell and molten metal-air battery, offering significantly improved battery reaction kinetics and power capability without compromising the energy capacity.
The solution brought about by both the teams wasn’t just innovative but also simple and cost-effective.
Wang says that the researchers succeeded in elevating the working temperature of the metal-oxygen battery using metals such as iron as a base as this can be activated at a high temperature and keeps the cost low.
According to Wang, solid oxide fuel cells use tin or bismuth as negative electrode materials, but one issue was metal oxides forming between the metal and solid electrolyte and impeding the ion conductivity.
One type of high temperature metal-oxygen battery is the so called molten air battery which can use base metals for fast multiple electron charge transfer in molten salts, says Peng.
The molten salts have the capability to dissolve metal oxides. The researchers proposal looked at a molten salt iron-oxygen battery with a bi-phase electrolyte of molten carbonate and solid oxide which merges the merits of both types of battery.
“The result was a low-cost and long service life rechargeable high-temperature molten salt iron-oxygen battery with both high energy storage capacity and fast charging and discharging power capability,” says Peng.
Image and content credits: University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC)