Electronics

"Water-in-salt" battery bodes well for greener, safer grid storage

"Water-in-salt" battery bodes ...
A new battery devised at the University of Maryland uses a high concentration of lithium salts in water to create high-voltage, green, safe energy storage for the smart grid and safety-centric applications
A new battery devised at the University of Maryland uses a high concentration of lithium salts in water to create high-voltage, green, safe energy storage for the smart grid and safety-centric applications
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The scientists started from the idea of a salt water battery but, using carefully selected lithium salts, took the concept to the extreme and built a water-based electrolyte with a salt to water ratio of six to one (hence the "water-in-salt" name)
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The scientists started from the idea of a salt water battery but, using carefully selected lithium salts, took the concept to the extreme and built a water-based electrolyte with a salt to water ratio of six to one (hence the "water-in-salt" name)
A new battery devised at the University of Maryland uses a high concentration of lithium salts in water to create high-voltage, green, safe energy storage for the smart grid and safety-centric applications
2/2
A new battery devised at the University of Maryland uses a high concentration of lithium salts in water to create high-voltage, green, safe energy storage for the smart grid and safety-centric applications

Scientists at the University of Maryland and the US Army Research Laboratory have used high concentrations of salt in water to create safe, green batteries that could find use in anything from large-scale grid storage to spaceships and pacemakers.

Many of today's batteries are designed so that, on first charge, their energy-carrying electrolytes will break down near the negative pole and form a so-called "solid-electrolyte interphase" (SEI) layer that is electrically insulating, but still lets ions through.

The SEI allows the battery to operate at higher voltages and self-discharge more slowly. It is so important that commercial lithium-ion batteries include one, even though this means using a flammable electrolyte in a battery that can (in rare cases) quickly overheat. The safer alternative of a water-based electrolyte has been set aside for commercial applications because it was so far believed that no SEI could form in such a medium.

But now, researchers Chunsheng Wang, Kang Xu and team have for the first time managed to create an SEI in an aqueous cell, in a result that could pave the way for safer and greener batteries.

The scientists started from the idea of a salt water battery but, using carefully selected lithium salts, took the concept to the extreme and built a water-based electrolyte with a salt to water ratio of six to one (hence the "water-in-salt" name)
The scientists started from the idea of a salt water battery but, using carefully selected lithium salts, took the concept to the extreme and built a water-based electrolyte with a salt to water ratio of six to one (hence the "water-in-salt" name)

The scientists started from the idea of a salt water battery but, using carefully selected lithium salts, took the concept to the extreme and built a water-based electrolyte with a salt to water ratio of six to one (hence the "water-in-salt" name). The high concentration of salt, near saturation levels, meant that an SEI could form, raising the maximum voltage for such a battery from 1.23 V to around 3 V.

Wang and team's prototype battery was tested at 2.4V, with an energy density for the full cell of approximately 100 Wh/kg and consistent performance over 1,000 charge/discharge cycles. This is noteworthy because aqueous batteries could previously only achieve high cycling stability at the cost of voltage and energy density.

More research is needed, but the use of a nonflammable electrolyte is likely to reduce manufacturing costs and improve battery recyclability. Potential applications include cheaper and safer grid storage or providing a safer energy source in confined spaces like aboard airplanes, spaceships or submarines.

The advance is further detailed in the journal Science.

Source: University of Maryland

3 comments
Daishi
Lithium-ion is emerging as a frontrunner in the storage market but there is no fundamental reason that grid scale storage has to end up using the same technology we are using for mobile applications because it doesn't have the same requirement of being portable or light weight.
At grid scale we can do things like pump water or push weights up hill. Once solar drives down the coast of energy in the middle of the day it will create a market for people to try to store energy to be sold back during the peak evening demand window cheaper than it takes to temporarily spin up an energy plant using fossil fuels to meet demand for about 5 hours.
We are only pulling like ~20% of daytime energy from solar and wind right now but as that rises it should give way to a storage market. A lot of people thing grid storage is a really hard problem but I think once there is a market reward for buying/selling on margins it will drive more R&D in this area and meeting evening peak demand through storage is not an insurmountable problem at all.
Raven Bo
It is stupid to use lithium like tesla when weight is not a factor. Use of flow battery with non-toxic salt water is cheaper logical solution. I think people should buy flow battery along with solar so even if they don't sell to utility, they get to use most of solar energy. They should still connect to utility since solar is not 100% reliable or during long period of cloudy days. Harvard came up with non-toxic one with like 19watt/kg which is about washer size for 10kwh. It can be placed in garage, basement, outside, or underground. Non-toxic Aquion Energy’s Aqueous Hybrid Ion from Whitacre at Carnegie Mellon have about same capacity per weight as lead acid. At $1100 per 2.6kwh module around 300lbs, it is still kind of expensive though. Not sure it is internally flow or not though. google "real7777 wordpress"
Msm
We keep reading about new concepts in battery tech or in solar tech and in other clean energy fields.
Since the invention of the fossil fuel industry, literally 100s of billions of dollars have been spent on R&D. I wouldn't be surprised if that amount was closer to a trillion dollars when you include drilling, refining, distribution and then all the R&D that went into making the internal combustion engine what it is today.
Could you just imagine if we devoted that kind of R&D money in the alternative energy fields?