Researchers at Uppsala University have developed a new type of experimental sub-battery, the size of a button battery, made entirely of organic ingredients and more environmentally friendly than most environmentally friendly batteries. In addition, it can be recharged in minutes and can operate at very low temperatures.
Most batteries, such as ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries, are made from metals that need to be mined and refined, which is very harmful to the environment. Of course, there is also the problem of safe disposal of them. So the researchers set out to create organic batteries made from elements that are easier to find in nature. In this case, the active substance is a group of organic compounds called argon. Bacteria and plants usually use them during photosynthesis and cell respiration.
In this battery design, the electrodeis is made of a solid polymer of certain tantalums. These polymers are immersed in an acidic aqueous solution as electrolytes, allowing electrons to pass back in a “rocking chair” between the cathode and anode. This is the same as the basic mechanism of lithium-ion batteries, except that this design shuttles hydrogen ions around. Because these ions contain only protons, the system is called a proton battery.
The current battery prototype is a small button battery with a capacity of 60mAh. Proton batteries have their advantages. In addition to natural factors, it can be recharged quickly and can be fully charged in as little as 100 seconds. Tests have shown that it can withstand 500 charge-discharge cycles while retaining most of its capacity. The team says the electrolyte solution is safer than other electrolyte solutions and does not explode or catch fire, and the battery can eventually function at temperatures as low as -24 degrees C (-11 degrees F).
There is still a lot of work to be done before the batteries can be commercialized, but the emergence of such proton batteries has given scientists a big step forward in making sustainable organic batteries. The study was published in the journal Angewandte Chemie.