Toyota Research Institute engineers have uncovered the secret of using magnesium in batteries. The opening could entail replacing the lithium batteries with safer and more efficient magnesium ones. The new batteries are suitable for all industries from mobile phones to automobiles.
Magnesium has long been considered a potential replacement for lithium in battery manufacturing. The commonly used lithium is not stable and can ignite under certain conditions. To make lithium-ion batteries safer, engineers have to incorporate graphite rods into them. This inevitably affects the amount of stored energy.
On the other hand, magnesium is much more stable than lithium, and batteries based on it have better energy capacity. The problem with its application was the difficulty of obtaining an electrolyte that would not decompose magnesium. However, an accidental discovery during research on hydrogen fuel cells solved the problem.
Magnesium is one of the most abundant elements in the earth's crust.
Toyota chemist Rana Mohtadi overheard her colleagues discussing the problems of creating a magnesium-friendly electrolyte. Mohtadi realized that the properties of the hydrogen storage material she was working on could solve the problem with magnesium batteries as well. The researchers formed a team and tested the hypothesis.
At the moment, Toyota scientists hope to attract colleagues from other countries to create new magnesium batteries. For the mass application of the technology, they have to do a lot of work, which will take more than a year.