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Wood Battery Promises Cheap Grid Energy Storage

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image13A battery made of tin coated wood developed at the University of Maryland is rated as high as most sodium-ion nanobatteries in terms of lifespan. In addition to this, the new battery is almost 1,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper.

According to the scientists behind the project, what makes the device environmentally friendly is the use of sodium instead of lithium.

The low price of the materials used in the making of the invention, makes it highly attractive to grid-scale energy storage projects.

Liangbing Hu, an assistant professor of materials science and one of the authors of the study, revealed that the inspiration for the technology came from trees. These are rich in wood fibers, which have the capacity to hold mineral-rich water, similar in properties to the electrolytes in batteries.

Because wood fibers are soft in nature, they are extremely effective in releasing the mechanical stress, which occurs when ions flow through the battery. In addition, the mesoporous structure acts as an electrolyte reservoir, which allows easy flow of ions through the inner and outer surface of the fibers.

The aim of the study was to find a material, which defers from the conventional non-flexible substrates and is able to handle the strong liquid electrolytes. Moreover, the authors tried to address the challenges associated with tin anodes for sodium-ion batteries including large volume expansion with cycling, slow kinetics and unstable solid electrolyte interphase formation.

Initial tests of the battery demonstrated that the device can last through as many as 400 charge-discharge cycles. This result shows an impressive improvement over the existing tin nanostructures used in batteries.

The authors are convinced that the new technology will provide a cheap, effective and efficient solution to large-scale energy storage.

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