Organic proton battery is much more durable than lithium-ion

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The organic proton battery can be charged and discharged more than 500 times without significant loss of capacity. It does not depend on the ambient temperature and does not require complex electronics to charge like lithium batteries.

A new development by Swedish researchers from Uppsala University was published in the scientific journal Angewandte Chemie. An organic proton battery is not only more durable than a traditional lithium-ion one – the authors of the study were able to demonstrate that their development can be easily charged using solar panels and is not affected by ambient temperature.

Modern batteries like lithium-ion batteries negatively affect the environment – in particular, this is due to the metals that are used in them. And in connection with the ever-growing need for the accumulation of electrical energy, research has begun on the use of organic substances as active material in batteries. Prototypes of proton organic batteries have previously been created. For example, the material of the organic electrode can be either polymeric to prevent dissolution in the electrolyte or consist of individual molecules with very low solubility in the selected electrolyte.

New quinone-based proton organic battery shows stable endurance compared to lithium-ion batteries
New quinone-based proton organic battery shows stable endurance compared to lithium-ion batteries

New quinone-based proton organic battery shows stable endurance compared to lithium-ion batteries

The vast majority of these concepts require a significant amount of conductive additives, usually various forms of carbon, since most organic materials are insulators. Therefore, although the theoretical specific capacity of these battery materials may be high, their effective capacity is much lower. In addition, a polymeric binder is often required to ensure good adhesion and cohesion of the material. And these insoluble additives complicate the processing of the electrode material solution necessary for such assembly methods as spraying, screen printing, inkjet printing, etc.

The Swedish scientists from Uppsala University chose quinones as the main active material – organic carbon compounds popular in nature. Scientists were interested in one feature of quinones – the ability to absorb and emit hydrogen ions in the process, respectively, of charging and discharging. Hydrogen ions, in turn, contain exclusively protons.

Schematic representation of the concept of a fully organic battery
Schematic representation of the concept of a fully organic battery

Schematic representation of the concept of a fully organic battery. Image: Angewandte Chemie International Edition (2020)

“The starting point for our research was the development of a battery made from elements that are commonly found in nature and that can be used to create organic battery materials,” explains Christian Strietzel, one of the authors of the development.

Researchers used an acidic aqueous solution as an electrolyte – it helped transport ions inside the battery. In this case, the solution is completely safe for humans, can not explode, ignite and will not cause any harm to nature.

“It is a well-known fact that standard battery performance drops at low temperatures. We have demonstrated that the organic proton battery we created maintains its capacity at air temperatures up to -24 ° C, ”said Christian Streitzel.

Researchers have yet to refine the proton battery before it enters into use and appears on the electronics market, but this work is a serious step towards the possibility of producing environmentally friendly organic batteries in the future.

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