Myths and legends say that magnesium-sulfur hold the key to better and cheaper energy storage. New research from the German Karlsruhe Institute of Technology’s (KIT’s) Helmholtz Institute Ulm (HIU) might actually have brought it closer to viability, by developing a new electrolyte.
Yes, the list of electrolytes that are being developed by scientists around the world is growing every minute, and each new one has some properties that the others do not. Some provide options for super fast charging, others promise better safety, but this new one is the only one that guarantees stability, low cost and efficiency when used with sulfur cathodes.
In the study published in the latest issue of the journal Advanced Energy Materials, the team describes the initial steps towards developing not only next generation batteries, but also, as they call them, batteries of “next-but-one generations”. They firstly decided to focus on the electrolyte, and make it suitable for use in magnesium-sulfur batteries. They managed to measure much higher densities, much lower levels of toxic materials and bring degradation to minimum.
This discovery is a real breakthrough, simply because it reaches heights that no one has managed before. The electrolyte is electro-chemically stable and highly efficient. It can be used with various solvents at high concentrations, and it can be produced at a very low cost, due to the cheap and very abundant materials that are used in the process. In fact, the authors state that even commercially available standard chemicals like magnesium amide and aluminium chloride, can be added to the solvent and used directly as an electrolyte in the battery.
The next step in front of the team is to polish up the remaining components of the batteries and make them fit to fully replace lithium-ion once and for all.
Image (c) HIU