Solid state magnesium may be ‘holy grail ‘ of safe batteries

A team made up of researchers from some of the foremost labs in the world is working together to create a solid state magnesium battery that would eliminate the risk of fire associated with some of today’s lithium-ion cells.

According to one of the insitutions, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, they have “discovered the fastest magnesium-ion solid-state conductor” and are calling it “a major step towards making solid-state magnesium-ion batteries that are both energy dense and safe.” The other participants are MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago.

Magnesium is able to store more energy than lithium, but finding a liquid electrolyte to work with it in a battery has been problematic. In this development, the scientists decided to leapfrog the liquid issue and work on a solid material to carry the charge from the negative to the positive electrodes. The material they came up with is magnesium scandium selenide spinel.

A technique called nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy was used to experimentally prove that magnesium ions could move through the material as rapidly as the theoretical studies had predicted. NMR is similar to the MRI used on human tissue, but analyzes chemical properties.

The results are very promising. Gerbrand Ceder, a Berkeley Lab Senior Faculty Scientist, said “magnesium is thought to move slowly in most solids, so nobody thought this would be possible. This probably has a long way to go before you can make a battery out of it, but it’s the first demonstration you can make solid-state materials with really good magnesium mobility through it.”

According to Berkeley Lab, Ceder was excited at the prospects for the finding but cautioned that work remains to be done. “There are enormous efforts in industry to make a solid-state battery. It’s the holy grail because you would have the ultimate safe battery. But we still have work to do. This material shows a small amount of electron leakage, which has to be removed before it can be used in a battery.”

Read more at New Atlas
Read more at Berkeley Lab
Read the paper, published at
Photo: Argonne scientist Baris Key, shown on left at work in his nuclear magnetic resonance lab, worked with researchers at Berkeley Lab on the discovery of the fastest ever magnesium-ion solid-state conductor. (Credit: Argonne National Laboratory)


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