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New “water” batteries are safer than lithium-ion ones

The research team, together with collaborators at RMIT University in Australia, has developed a new type of battery that could offer a safer alternative to lithium-ion batteries. Water-based batteries do not catch fire and are not flammable. They are also recyclable. 

Water batteries

To create a viable alternative to lithium-ion batteries, scientists used water to replace the organic electrolytes that allow electrical current to flow between the positive and negative terminals. Such batteries will not cause a fire or explosion, which cannot be said about their lithium-ion counterparts.

Researchers have created a magnesium-ion water battery with an energy density of 75 watt-hours per kilogram, which is 30% higher than the latest car batteries in Tesla electric cars. In addition, they are more durable and affordable to manufacture, since they use magnesium or zinc instead of expensive lithium. According to the US Geological Survey, in 2023, global lithium reserves are 26 million tons, and zinc reserves are over 1.9 billion tons. Also, materials for water batteries are less toxic and easier to recycle.

The technology also has its downsides. For example, due to lower energy density, water batteries of similar power will require approximately three times more space. However, they can be used in electric scooters, electric bicycles, laptops, smartphones and other gadgets. Researchers hope that within 5 to 10 years, water-based batteries will be able to replace lithium-ion batteries.

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