The first rechargeable proton battery
The first rechargeable proton battery is just as efficient as a lithium ion battery, but it costs and pollutes less
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So far the batteries are based on ions (lithium). We know that lithium-ion technology allowed to build lighter and more compact batteries, but it seems that opting for protons can make cheaper and less polluting parts.
Perhaps we think of efficiency as a maxim to achieve for that supposed new battery technology, but we must take care of other aspects such as ecology or cost. And these three pillars are what this team of researchers from the RMIT University (Melborune, Australia) formed by Dr. Shahin Heidari among others claim to have achieved the battery of protons they have created.
As explained in the university publication, it is a prototype proton battery that combines a carbon electrode with a solid state hydrogen cell.
During loading, the protons produced by separation of water (chemical reactions to divide the water into oxygen and hydrogen, water splitting) and conducted through a membrane to join directly with the storage material with the help of the electrons provided by the applied voltage, without the emission of gaseous hydrogen (thus avoiding potential losses).
Until now, what had not been achieved was that it was remarkably rechargeable (it had been previously achieved in this university, but at very low levels). Thus, this new prototype is in addition to rechargeable more ecological and more economical, having opted for active carbon and not other less common and more expensive materials, achieving efficiencies comparable with commercial lithium-ion batteries, according to the team.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most common today, speaking not only of mobile phones, but in general. This material has a higher energy storage than other previously used components such as nickel or cadmium, in addition to not suffering the so-called "memory effect", so it ended up being imposed.
However, with devices increasingly more powerful and demanding at the energy level, and increasingly more and more compact, it seems that this material already begins to touch roof and we need an evolution. Also taking into account the loss of efficiency by degradation, although manufacturers have been improving the technology by prolonging the number of cycles before it is accused.
Hence, more options are looked at, among which is the graphene that came to sound a lot as an internal component of future batteries. Although for this material for now there is much noise and few nuts in relation to batteries, we will see if in the end we see before the protons in a commercial way.
About its future applications, what the team is talking about is batteries for the home, such as the Tesla Power Wall, and even for electric cars, as well as for facilities such as the Hornsdale Power Reserve of Australia, also Tesla. The term given by the researchers themselves is not long, much less, talking about five years to see them in the market.
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