Power Up When the Temperature is Down

Nowadays, most electrical devices use lithium-ion battery because it is safer to use than standard lithium metal batteries. Unfortunately, both styles rely on metal, a finite resource that is in decreasing supply. The same problem exists for copper and cobalt batteries, like the traditional AA batteries in TV remote controls.

A new rechargeable, non-metallic battery developed by chemists from Hiroshima University provides portable power in extremely cold environments. This “eco battery” can function at below-freezing temperatures unlike standard metal-based batteries. It is also reported that this specific model prototyped by the Hiroshima University team has greater voltage than other research groups’ previously reported styles from around the world. These organic radical rechargeable batteries may have potential to be cheaper, safer, and longer-lasting than current metal based batteries. This type of batteries can recharge faster because it carries energy chemically rather than physically.

“The chemicals in the battery make it heavy and the synthesis process makes it expensive, so it won’t replace other styles of batteries in the foreseeable future,” said Professor Yohsuke Yamamoto, Ph.D., from Hiroshima University”. But our battery could supplement traditional batteries in conditions where traditional Lithium-ion batteries won’t work reliably, particularly in cold locations.”

The new organic radical synthesis method from this team of researchers is modeled on a process that an American research group first reported in 1985. Yamamoto was a member of that lab in the late 1980s and improved the process in recent years as part of the work on unstable organic compounds.

“The original method we used took such a long time and relied on harmful chemicals. Now, over 20 years later, we can synthesize the compound much more quickly and safely,” Yamamoto said. “Fundamental research on unstable compounds creates a more detailed understanding of how chemicals bond. Applications like this new battery are the results of research that was never originally about any specific end product.””

Yamamoto and collaborators are currently adapting the synthesis process further to make the battery a lighter weight and ensure it retains its energy output after numerous re-charge cycles.

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