Researchers at Texas A&M University have found a 1,000% increase in the storage capacity of metal-free, water-based battery electrodes. The research team published their findings in Nature Materials, explaining that these batteries differ from lithium-ion batteries, which contain the mineral cobalt, and present electrical, environmental and supply chain challenges. “There would be no battery fires anymore because it’s water-based,” said Dr. Jodie Lutkenhaus, chemical engineering professor at Texas A&M. The cathodes and anodes on these batteries are polymers that are able to store energy and the electrolyte is water mixed with organic salts, which has key implications for ion conduction and energy storage. The research team plans to expand their simulations to future systems and claim that this represents a push forward to lithium-free batteries, as there is a better molecular-level picture of what makes some battery electrodes work better than others, which gives stronger evidence to go forward in materials design. The project is funded with the help of the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation through the Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station.

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