The biggest advantage, however, is the fact that all the ingredients for this kind of battery are easily affordable and in plentiful supply: Iron sulfide nanocrystals, for instance, can be produced by grinding dry metallic iron with sulfur in conventional ball-mills. Iron, magnesium, sodium, and sulfur hold 4th, 6th, 7th and 15th places by the abundance in the Earths crust(by mass). One kilogram of magnesium costs at most four Swiss francs, which makes it 15 times cheaper than lithium. There are also savings to be made when it comes to constructing the cheap batteries: Lithium ion batteries require relatively expensive copper foil to collect and conduct away the electricity. For the fools gold battery, however, inexpensive aluminum foil is perfectly sufficient.
Potential for storing the electricity produced annually at Leibstadt power station
The researchers primarily see potential in their development for large network storage batteries. The fools gold battery is not suitable for electric cars its output is too low. But wherever it boils down to costs, safety and environmental friendliness, the technology is a plus. In their paper recently published in the journal Chemistry of Materials, the Empa researchers propose batteries with potential terawatt-hours-level storage. Such a battery might be used to temporarily store the annual production from the Swiss nuclear power station in Leibstadt, for instance. The batterys full potential has not been exhausted yet, says Kovalenko, who teaches as a professor at ETH Zurichs Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences alongside his research at Empa. If we refine the electrolytes, were bound to be able to increase the electric voltage of the sodium-magnesium hybrid cell even further and to extend its cycling life. He adds: We also look for investors willing to support research into such post-Li-ion technologies and bring them to the market.
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