Advancement in Battery Technology by Korean Researchers: A Safer, More Affordable Option to Lithium-Ion Batteries

by Mateo Gonzalez
Aqueous Rechargeable Batteries

In a significant development, a team of scientists has formulated a novel and economical type of aqueous rechargeable battery. This innovation aims to overcome the challenges associated with traditional lithium-ion batteries commonly used in energy storage systems (ESS). The core of this breakthrough is a unique composite catalyst, combining manganese dioxide and palladium. This catalyst effectively neutralizes hazardous hydrogen gas by converting it into water, thereby enhancing both the safety and efficiency of the battery. This development holds great promise for the commercial application of these batteries in ESS and various other sectors, presenting a viable, safer, and more cost-effective alternative to current technologies.

This new technology facilitates the secure transformation of hydrogen gas into water, significantly improving battery safety. It marks a critical step towards the commercialization of these more economical and secure aqueous rechargeable batteries.

With the Earth currently experiencing extreme weather conditions, including severe heatwaves and heavy rainfall, the urgency for adopting renewable energy sources and improving related infrastructure has become paramount. This is a vital strategy in preserving our planet during these challenging environmental conditions. However, the unpredictable nature of electricity generation from renewable sources, often dependent on variable weather conditions, poses a substantial challenge.

Consequently, there is a growing demand for energy storage systems (ESS) that can reliably store and supply electricity as required. However, the current use of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) in ESS, while effective, comes with high costs and potential fire hazards, necessitating the development of more affordable and safer alternatives.

The recent breakthrough in aqueous rechargeable batteries has been led by Dr. Oh, Si Hyoung and his team at the Energy Storage Research Center of the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST). They have successfully created a highly safe aqueous rechargeable battery that addresses both cost and safety concerns effectively.

Aqueous rechargeable batteries, despite their lower energy density compared to LIBs, offer significant economic benefits due to the lower cost of raw materials. However, the generation of hydrogen gas from water decomposition has been a persistent issue, causing a gradual increase in internal pressure and eventual electrolyte depletion, thereby posing a significant safety risk and hindering commercialization.

To address this safety challenge, previous attempts involved the use of a surface protection layer to reduce the interaction between the metal anode and the electrolyte. However, corrosion of the metal anode and consequent water decomposition in the electrolyte usually result in the continuous build-up of hydrogen gas, which could lead to potential explosions during long-term use.

To counter this critical issue, the research team introduced a composite catalyst composed of manganese dioxide and palladium. This catalyst efficiently converts hydrogen gas produced within the battery cell back into water, thereby ensuring the cell’s performance and safety. In normal conditions, manganese dioxide does not react with hydrogen gas. However, the addition of a small amount of palladium changes this, allowing the catalysts to absorb hydrogen and convert it back into water. In tests with a prototype cell equipped with the new catalysts, the internal pressure remained within safe limits, and no depletion of the electrolyte was observed.

The outcomes of this research effectively address a major safety concern in aqueous batteries and represent a significant step towards their future commercial application in ESS. Substituting LIBs with these more affordable and safer aqueous batteries could even lead to a surge in the global ESS market.

Dr. Oh, Si Hyoung of KIST commented, “This technology represents a tailored safety approach for aqueous rechargeable batteries, incorporating an active safety mechanism that automatically regulates risk factors.” He further added that this approach could be applied in various industrial contexts where hydrogen gas leakage is a primary safety concern, such as hydrogen gas stations and nuclear power plants, thereby enhancing public safety.

This study, titled “Highly safe aqueous rechargeable batteries via electrolyte regeneration using Pd–MnO2 catalytic cycle” by Hyun-gi Jo and colleagues, was published on 14 July 2023 in Energy Storage Materials and received funding from the Ministry of Science and ICT.

DOI: 10.1016/j.ensm.2023.102881

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Aqueous Rechargeable Batteries

What is the key innovation in the new battery technology developed by Korean scientists?

The key innovation lies in a composite catalyst made of manganese dioxide and palladium, which converts hazardous hydrogen gas into water. This enhances the safety and performance of the newly developed aqueous rechargeable batteries, providing a cost-effective and safer alternative to existing lithium-ion batteries.

How does this new battery technology improve safety?

The composite catalyst in the new battery technology efficiently transforms hydrogen gas, which is generated during operation, back into water. This process significantly reduces the risk of internal pressure build-up and potential explosions, making the batteries much safer for use in energy storage systems and other applications.

What are the potential applications of these new aqueous rechargeable batteries?

These batteries can be widely used in energy storage systems (ESS), especially where safety and cost-effectiveness are crucial. Additionally, due to their safer profile, they can be applied in various industrial facilities where hydrogen gas leakage is a concern, such as hydrogen gas stations and nuclear power plants.

What challenges do these new batteries address in the context of renewable energy?

The new aqueous rechargeable batteries address the challenge of providing a reliable and safe energy storage solution for renewable energy sources, which often suffer from unpredictable electricity generation due to variable weather conditions. They offer a stable and safer option for storing and supplying electricity as needed.

Who led the research on this new battery technology, and where was it conducted?

The research was led by Dr. Oh, Si Hyoung of the Energy Storage Research Center at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST). The team focused on developing a safe and economical alternative to traditional lithium-ion batteries.

What makes aqueous rechargeable batteries economically advantageous compared to lithium-ion batteries?

Aqueous rechargeable batteries are economically advantageous due to the significantly lower cost of raw materials required for their production compared to lithium-ion batteries. This makes them a more cost-effective option for large-scale energy storage solutions.

What publication featured the research on this new battery technology?

The research was featured in the paper titled “Highly safe aqueous rechargeable batteries via electrolyte regeneration using Pd–MnO2 catalytic cycle,” published on July 14, 2023, in the journal Energy Storage Materials.

More about Aqueous Rechargeable Batteries

  • Energy Storage Materials Journal
  • Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST)
  • Renewable Energy Storage Solutions
  • Dr. Oh, Si Hyoung’s Research Profile
  • Advancements in Battery Technology
  • Safety Mechanisms in Battery Technology
  • Economic Benefits of Aqueous Rechargeable Batteries
  • Ministry of Science and ICT Funding Information

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SarahConnor1991 December 28, 2023 - 9:20 pm

great read, the part about converting hydrogen gas to water? genius, but how cost-effective is this really gonna be in the long run?

ElectricAvenue December 28, 2023 - 11:43 pm

gotta admit, I’m impressed with the Korean scientists here, they’re always pushing boundaries in tech, but the article could use a bit more detail on the actual science behind it, you know?

EcoWarrior December 29, 2023 - 12:22 pm

this is exactly what we need for a sustainable future, but the article kinda glosses over the environmental impact, or am i missing something?

Jenny Mills December 29, 2023 - 2:56 pm

really interesting article, i like how it talks about the safety aspect of these new batteries, safety is so key nowadays with all the tech we use!

Mark_theTechGuy December 29, 2023 - 6:36 pm

kinda cool to see how science is always evolving, but I’m wondering how long before we actually see these batteries in our phones and stuff?


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