Zinc makes progress to dethrone Lithium for battery King
The main problem with renewable energy is to store energy, batteries are needed. One popular type of battery is lithium-ion. Lithium is a rare metal that must be mined, which causes pollution, but the batteries are also difficult to recycle so often they go to waste after use. Due to a growing interest in renewable energies, the need for these rare metals is increasing. Mining this rare metal is expensive and limited, so researchers have been trying to replace the rare metal with a more common one.
A project led by Xiulei Ji from Oregon State University has been making tremendous strides in developing an alternative to using lithium. His solution uses a commonly found metal, zinc. You must be pondering, why haven’t we been using zinc instead of lithium in the first place? Developers have tried to use zinc in the past, but electrolytes used in zinc batteries were inefficient at storing and releasing energy while emitting dangerous gases into the air. Xiulei Ji’s team developed an electrolyte that eliminates these unwanted reactions and makes zinc batteries potentially more efficient than lithium-ion ones. Zinc batteries release 99.95% of energy charged as opposed to Lithium batteries releasing 99%. Along with this benefit, zinc batteries are safer because they are nonflammable whereas lithium-ion ones can explode.
Xiulei Ji explained how this is a significant breakthrough that should be implemented in solar and wind energy products. Zinc batteries would be cheaper, more available, and most importantly, safer for use in wind turbines. The transition from Lithium-ion batteries to zinc could make renewable energy more affordable for everyone. The Anorra product family of wind turbines support various type of batteries including a Lithium-ion . We’ll be monitoring the progress of the new zinc batteries once they hit the market.