Nowadays, mobile phone has become a must-have thing for modern people. As a result, the use of mobile phone for communications, browsing, social media, and multi-tasking has become more intense. With more intense use of mobile phones, battery life becomes another problem. Several types of batteries are available now, including magnesium and lithium batteries.
One of the most common issues related to the use f lithium batteries is their economic life. It is true that finding a replacement battery is a simple task. It is available on the nearby phone store. However, frequent replacement of batteries lead to another problem, namely, environmental issue. One of battery types, which are claimed to be safe and more efficient, is magnesium battery.
Magnesium Battery Becomes a Promising Alternative
A number of studies have been done to find out alternative batteries that can hold more power without the risk for exploding. A promise comes from magnesium battery. It is claim to be safer. Magnesium batteries are energy dense, solid state, and rechargeable. A group of scientists found a magnesium-ion conductor that is expected to produce non-flammable batteries that have more power and more capacity.
The current lithium battery is vulnerable to explosion. This is due to the use of liquid electrolyte to transport the charge from cathode to anode, and vice versa. This was confirmed by a team from Berkeley Lab. The team was working on a magnesium battery and did not find a workable liquid electrolyte in it. They also found that the magnesium battery hold more power than the lithium counterpart does.
Given the promising prospect when it comes to durability and power, the team is working on developing solid-state electrolyte for magnesium batteries. To do this, the team is supported by a group of scientists from Argonne and MIT. Of course, we expect that the team will produce a new promising and more powerful battery to overcome the existing problems associated with lithium battery.
What Makes Magnesium Batteries Safer and More Powerful
It sounds promising that magnesium battery will come as a solution for the current problems related to lithium-based cells. Actually, lithium batteries have a number of advantages. For instance, they have balanced ratios between power and volume and between power and weight. However, their main drawbacks include risk of explosion and fire.
On the other hand, magnesium battery seems to be safer. However, it is also associated with some issues, particularly electrolyte efficiency and performance of cathode. To solve the problems, a group of researchers from the University of Houston was working on a project to develop a magnesium-based cathode. The research abstract was published in Nature Communications.
The research revealed a new magnesium-based battery with more capacity, namely 400 mA-hr/gm. As a comparison, the earlier magnesium batteries only had 100 mA-hr/gm. The team applied a new approach in developing the new design of magnesium battery. Instead of breaking the magnesium-chloride bonds that lower the battery’s efficiency, the team used a different method. The team did the following things:
- Combining a new understanding for magnesium electrolyte and nanostructured cathode
- Inserting magnesium monochloride into certain hosts, for instance, titanium disulfide
- Retaining magnesium-chloride bond. This even leads to faster diffusion compared to the earlier magnesium models
- Rather than breaking magnesium-chloride bond, they expanded titanium disulfide. This way, the magnesium chloride can be inserted in 4 steps
The Future of Magnesium Batteries for Wide Use
The research found that the new method of developing magnesium-based battery obtained a more powerful and safer option. The following are some conclusions that can be drawn from the existing studies:
- Magnesium batteries have much less risk for exploding, compared to lithium counterparts. This is because the former do not use liquid-state electrolyte
- The new magnesium battery has more storage capacity compared to the lithium counterpart as well as the earlier magnesium model. For instance, the new battery has two-fold storage capacity compared to the lithium-ion battery
- Magnesium has more potential for producing higher-energy batteries
- Magnesium-based batteries could be more cost effective than lithium ones.
Of course, it may sound too early to draw conclusions from few studies. The magnesium batteries are still in development step. They still need many improvements, particularly when it comes to their ability to store energy. Furthermore, they have not come to mass production step.
Experience has shown that there are always significant gap between the battery performance at testing phase and that at mass-production phase. The scientists still have to work much to find the proven batteries in solving the environmental and energy issues posed by the existing lithium-ion batteries.