January 9, 2018

...AND CHEAPER...:

New rechargeable batteries that use iron instead of cobalt could be a game changer for electric cars (Irina Slav, 1/09/18, OilPrice.com)

The idea of using iron in batteries isn't new, but so far, attempts to substitute the cheap metal for costlier cobalt and other metals have ended in disaster. Christopher Wolverton, professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, had two problems to solve to make his battery work. First, replace cobalt with iron. Second, trick oxygen into taking part in the reaction that moves the lithium ions from the anode to the cathode and back again as the battery is charged and discharged.

The second challenge was the bigger one. The widespread opinion in science circles is that using oxygen in the reaction taking place in a rechargeable battery makes the concoction inside unstable and oxygen escapes, making the reaction irreversible and the battery non-rechargeable. That's why Wolverton and his team first made the battery on a computer to see if it would work. Surprisingly for all, it did--and better than the most popular lithium-ion batteries.

The iron battery uses four lithium ions instead of just one like current batteries do. For now, it can only utilize one of these, but there's potential for making use of all four, considerably increasing the battery's efficiency.

Posted by at January 9, 2018 7:38 PM

  

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