A research team at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU), Taiwan, is developing next-generation magnesium batteries to replace lithium batteries. The new batteries could be more stable than lithium batteries as well as have higher capacity.
Led by Prof. Fei-Yi Hung, Chun-Shing Lu and Li-Huei Chen from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, NCKU, the team has been working on the research of magnesium battery, and has overcome problems caused by the high activity of magnesium to increase the stability.
“We control the reduction-oxidation effects by magnesium membrane electrodes and magnesium powder electrodes technology to increase the magnesium battery prototype’s stability,” said Prof. Hung. “A magnesium battery’s capacity is 8 to 12 times higher than a lithium battery. In addition, its charge-discharge efficiency is 5 times higher.”
Take electric bicycles for example, a bicycle installed lithium battery takes 3 hours to charge, while only 36 minutes needed with magnesium battery. Besides, devices powered by lithium batteries are usually unable to function properly in temperatures below -15°C. In contrast, lithium batteries coated with magnesium can work stably under temperatures ranging from -30°C to 55°C.
Prof. Hung and his team hope to create a new battery which is not only more stable, but also more environmentally friendly. He explained that the negative electrodes are usually made from graphite extracted from processed petroleum coke. The material is less capable of storing energy and less green. Magnesium batteries are greener, more stable and safer than lithium batteries, making them a better solution to future energy storage devices.
“The most difficult part in normalizing distribution is the difficulty of making electrolyte solvent,” added Prof. Hung.