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New kind of eco-friendly battery could replace existing technology after huge breakthrough

Eco-friendly batteries could replace standard lithium-ion batteries after a breakthrough by researchers at UNIST in South Korea (iStock/ Getty Images)
Eco-friendly batteries could replace standard lithium-ion batteries after a breakthrough by researchers at UNIST in South Korea (iStock/ Getty Images)

Researchers have discovered how to massively boost the capacity and performance of an eco-friendly alternative to the batteries found in electric cars and smartphones.

The breakthrough is expected to accelerate the commercialisation of organic electrode-based batteries, which are both cheaper and more environmentally friendly than standard lithium-ion batteries.

“The potential of organic electrodes in lithium-ion batteries is highlighted by their cost-effectiveness and natural abundance,” a paper detailing the research noted.

“However, the dissolution of the active material in the electrolyte is a major obstacle to their use in lithium-ion batteries.”

A team from Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and Hanyang University in South Korea figured out how to overcome the limitations associated with organic electrode materials, which have previously hampered their development and adoption.

Previously, such batteries were unable to keep more than 50 per cent of their capacity after just 20 charging cycles, but a new technique using diluted electrolytes allowed the battery to retain more than 91 per cent of its capacity after more than 1,000 charging cycles.

“This study represents a major step towards practical applications of organic electrode-based batteries,” said Won-Jin Kwak, a professor at the School of Energy and Chemical Engineering at UNIST.

“The development of non-solvating electrolytes provides an effective approach to suppress the elution of organic electrode materials, without compromising capacity or output.”

The research was detailed in a study, titled ‘Diluents effect on inhibiting dissolution of organic electrode for highly reversible li-ion batteries’, published in the journal Advanced Energy Materials.