Scientists develop sustainable Na and K-batteries with novel strategy


Researchers at Bristol Composites Institute have developed high-performance potassium and sodium batteries with sustainably derived cellulose, portraying wide-ranging implications for electrically powered devices and vehicles.

Scientists have come up with a novel method, controllable unidirectional ice-templating, which can modify the electrical performances of the ground-breaking post-lithium-ion batteries, leveraging large-scale availability and sustainability.

Imperative to note, these sodium and potassium ion batteries, making use of the novel strategy have outperformed several other similar systems and support relatively simpler disposability with sustainably sourced cellulose.

Reportedly, demand for ethical, sustainable and affordable energy-storage solutions is skyrocketing as a result of increasing focus on development of battery-powered systems, dramatically shifting preferences from diesel or petrol-based engines to electric vehicles.

Besides, battery-powered systems are also popularizing in the electronic sector, notably for devices like mobile phones, which at present largely depend on lithium-ion batteries.

Technical drawbacks of using lithium in batteries, which comprise of two electrodes, a separator and electrolyte carrying the charge, include metal build-up inside devices, increasing the risk of short circuits and overheating.

Lithium alternatives, like potassium and sodium batteries have not worked out all well, with unsatisfactory performance, due to their relatively larger sodium and potassium ion size and mobility limitations through porous carbon electrodes within batteries.

In addition to that, these batteries are difficult to dispose at end-of-life, as they are composed of unsustainable materials.

Ethically, lithium mining is a very destructive procedure with frail human rights records regulating the space, routinely conducted across countries like Bolivia, Argentina and Chile

Trouble shooting these pain points, Scientists at Bristol have designed new carbon electrode materials using an ice-templating system, called aerogels, wherein cellulose nanocrystals combine to form a porous structure with ice crystals, that are first grown and then sublimated.

With this, sodium and potassium ions can easily traverse through the large channels left within the porous structure.

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