According to the founders, it has the potential to replace conventional electric vehicle batteries and be used in the electric grid. What stops the technology of taking over all existing batteries is the high temperature needed for its operation.
The study was led by Stuart Licht and published in the latest issue of Energy & Environmental Science. The innovative technology described here is one of a kind, mainly because it is the first time rechargeable batteries use molten-air electrolytes. Molten salt within the battery stores energy by using free oxygen from air and multi-electron storage molecules.
Scientists have been exploring the abilities of some molecules to store multiple electrons, and have established that batteries using these have the highest energy storage capacity. This is the case with the vanadium boride (VB2)-air battery, which at its best can store 11 electrons per molecule making it the battery with the highest measured storage capacity, followed by technologies using carbon (4 electrons) and iron (3 electrons). The only limitation, however, is that these are not rechargeable and therefore unsuitable for use in electric vehicles.
The team was able to create the new battery by initiating an unusual electrolytic splitting process, which charges the battery. The team used a high-capacity multi-electron storage material that can be implemented in molten electrolytes and together with free oxygen from air, created the highest capacity rechargeable battery.
Although it is already a great achievement, the team has not stopped improving the technology. The scientists are still testing various materials to be used in the molten electrodes in order to find one that has the lowest melting temperature.
Although the battery has high enough voltage to be used in electric vehicles, the scientists are convinced that they can achieve higher surface area between the cycled air and the molten salt, which will allow reaching of higher density, and higher speed when used in vehicles.