One of the applaudable things about science and technology is continuous evolvement. Scientists across the globe are more interested in honing or building on pre-existing conditions to develop new technologies. One of the attention-grabbing aspects for scientists is building batteries that are as efficient as lithium batteries, cheaper, and that can appeal to the global market.
Why Calcium Batteries?
Calcium ranks as the fifth most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. It has safety advantages and has an equal geographical distribution. Scientists are after it because it is non-toxic (making it environment friendly and has a low cost since its widely abundant. Considering the properties of calcium, it qualifies as the most suitable candidate to replace lithium-ion batteries.
The quest for efficient, low-cost batteries brought about the inventory of calcium batteries. Calcium has the potential to be used in batteries, as a replacement for lithium. This development gives hope of a cheaper and friendlier alternative to lithium-ion batteries. Calcium-based batteries come with a low manufacturing cost and high energy that may replace lithium-ion technology.
An Electrolyte Makes All the Difference
Much effort has been put into developing an electrolyte that is suitable to charge calcium batteries at room temperature. This has been the cause of the standstill on calcium-based batteries for a long time. The electrolyte is the medium that transmits the flow of electrical charge in a battery. Without this, calcium-based batteries may not function.
Just recently, an electrolyte that can enable calcium plating and stripping was discovered. The electrolyte offers a promise of complete function calcium-based batteries. The development of a suitable electrolyte will enable the calcium batteries to charge at room temperature and function as expected.
For the first time, an electrolyte with impressive electrolytic properties has been used to demonstrate calcium batteries at room temperature. The previous electrolytes suffered several hindrances, including poor stability, high operating temperatures, and poor anodic stability.
German scientists (Fichtner’s Group) inspired by their recent work on magnesium batteries used a one-step synthesis to produce calcium tetrakis borate. This electrolyte has a very large anion that interacts weakly with the cation, creating a high ionic activity, similar to those in lithium-ion batteries. The anion of calcium tetrakis borate is surrounded by fluoride group, which means there is high stability in the electrolyte.
This fluorine-containing compound has a wide electrochemical window and good stability that will open doors for high-energy calcium batteries. The discovery widens the path to focus on testing new electrode materials for calcium in batteries and to pursue a fundamental understanding of electrolytes and the chemical properties that make them suitable for use.
There is still a need to make further improvements to modify the electrolyte composition (an additive, concentration, and solvent). Now that a suitable electrolyte has been discovered, it can be improved to produce cheaper, safer, and more environment-friendly calcium-based batteries.
What are your thoughts about calcium in batteries?