A long-lasting zinc-ion battery costing half the price of a current lithium-ion battery was developed by chemists at the University of Waterloo.
Professor Linda Nazar and her colleagues from the Faculty of Science at Waterloo made the key discovery and hope to use their findings to help communities veer away from traditional power plants and gravitate toward renewable energy sources in solar and wind energy.
“The worldwide demand for sustainable energy has triggered a search for a reliable, low-cost way to store it,” says Nazar, a Canada Research Chair in Solid State Energy Materials and a University Research Professor in the Department of Chemistry. “The aqueous zinc-ion battery we’ve developed is ideal for this type of application because it’s relatively inexpensive and it’s inherently safe.”
The battery produces electricity through a reversible process called intercalation, where positively charged zinc ions are oxidized from the zinc metal negative electrode, travel through the electrolyte and insert between the layers of vanadium oxide nanosheets in the positive electrode. This steers the flow of electrons in the external circuit, creating an electrical current. The reverse process occurs on charge.