Potassium-ion batteries will bring renewable energy growth to the marketMarch 2, 2020
Potassium batteries can never be compared with lithium batteries in energy density and are not suitable for electric vehicles. But to store the energy of the sun or wind, they can be a great solution if you can find the right combination of electrolyte, cathode and anode.
According to the International Energy Agency, in the next five years, renewable energy production will increase by 50%, and it will need to be stored somewhere. But a growing electric transport market may not leave enough lithium and cobalt.
In an attempt to solve this problem, some scientists turn to potassium – a cheap and affordable relative of lithium, from which high-power batteries could potentially be made. According to Shinichi Kamaba of Tokyo University of Science, potassium batteries can already compete with sodium-ion, and in the future with lithium, Spectrum writes.
Potassium has historically been considered inappropriate material for battery production due to its high reactivity and processing difficulties. Moreover, it is difficult to find a suitable substance for the production of electrodes that could hold potassium ions.
One solution was proposed by John Goodenough, inventor of the lithium-ion battery. He proposed the use of Prussian blue cathodes with an exceptionally high energy density of 510 V * h / kg. Another option is polyanionic compounds consisting of potassium and a number of elements of the periodic table.
Particularly high potential for vanadium-potassium fluorophosphate. Scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (USA) have developed a cathode with an energy density of 450 V * h / kg.
The emergence of a reliable electrolyte should solve another problem of potassium batteries. Current options contain flammable solutions that react with potassium. The Komaba team suggests using potassium fluoride salts, super-concentrated electrolytes and liquid ionic electrolytes. And at the beginning of the year, scientists from Australia announced the creation of a non-combustible electrolyte for potassium batteries.
Nevertheless, despite the enthusiasm of the researchers, it will take a long time to find the right combination of electrolyte, cathode and anode. It may take at least 15 years before potassium batteries appear on the market, said Professor Vilas Paul of Purdue University (USA).
American scientists offer sodium as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries. They managed to make them reliable and cheap, as well as reduce the loss of ions. Moreover, the introduction of their discovery does not require significant changes in the process.
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