Posted in | Battery | Energy Efficiency

New Hydronium-Ion Battery Shows Promise for Sustainable, High-Power Energy Storage

Simulated PTCDA unit cell Credit: Oregon State University

Scientists at Oregon State University have developed a new type of battery that is promising for sustainable, high-power energy storage.

This new battery, the first to be developed in the world, uses only hydronium ions as the charge carrier.

It provides researchers with an additional option, especially in the area of stationary storage.

Stationary storage refers to those batteries that store grid power and are placed in a permanent location.  These batteries also store power generated from alternative energy sources such as solar cells or wind turbines. The stored grid power is used in an emergency or standby basis.

Hydronium (H3O+) is a positively charged ion developed during the addition of a proton to a water molecule. The possibility of reversibly storing hydronium ions in an electrode material comprising of perylenetetracarboxylic dianhydridem (PTCDA) has been demonstrated by researchers in the OSU College of Science.

PTCDA is an organic, crystalline, molecular solid. Dilute sulfuric acid is used as the electrolyte by the battery developed in the Department of Chemistry at Oregon State.

Xingfeng Wang, a graduate student, was the first author on the study. The journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a publication of the German Chemical Society, has published this study.

This may provide a paradigm-shifting opportunity for more sustainable batteries. It doesn’t use lithium or sodium or potassium to carry the charge, and just uses acid as the electrolyte. There’s a huge natural abundance of acid so it’s highly renewable and sustainable.

Xiulei Ji, Assistant Professor, OSU

Ji highlights that until now, cations (ions with a positive charge) that haven been employed in batteries have been aluminum, alkaline earth metals or alkali metal.

“No nonmetal cations were being considered seriously for batteries,” he said.

A big dilation of the PTCDA lattice structure during intercalation, the process of its receiving ions between the layers of its structure, was observed by the study. This means that the electrode was being charged, and the structure of the PTCDA expanded, by hydronium ions, instead of extremely small protons, which are already being employed in some batteries.

Organic solids are not typically contemplated as crystalline electrode materials, but many are very crystalline, arranged in a very ordered structure. This PTCDA material has a lot of internal space between its molecule constituents so it provides an opportunity for storing big ions and good capacity.

Xiulei Ji, Assistant Professor, OSU

It has also been observed that the hydronium ions also travel through the electrode structure with reasonably low “friction,” which translates to high power.

“It’s not going to power electric cars,” Ji said. “But it does provide an opportunity for battery researchers to go in a new direction as they look for new alternatives for energy storage, particularly for stationary grid storage.”

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