Hi Tech.

 By /Christian Megan

   Do you ever searched for a cheap and long life battery for your mobile, unfortunately all the current Lithium-ion batteries are  expensive because lithium is rare and therefore expensive. So scientists though to create something else can give you all your demands....what is the solution that the researchers from Sydney university found is the " Zinc-air batteries " .

Zinc air batteries are a good solution as we do have a lot of zinc. And now scientists from the University of Sydney have found a solution for one of the biggest problems preventing zinc-air from replacing conventional lithium-ion technology.

Zinc-air batteries would make energy from zinc reaction with oxygen from air – quite a simple idea, but there is one problem – they are difficult to charge. Hearing aids, some railway equipment and film cameras use zinc-air batteries, but it is difficult for them to spread to the levels of lithium-ion technology when charging is such a big issue. That is because there is not enough of electrocatalysts that are necessary to successfully reduce and generate oxygen during the discharging and charging of a battery. However, now researchers from the University of Sydney and Nanyang Technological University have developed a three-stage solution to this problem.

This new method would create bifunctional oxygen electrocatalysts for building rechargeable zinc-air batteries from scratch. Professor Yuan Chen, lead author of the study, said: “rechargeable zinc-air batteries have been made with expensive precious metal catalysts, such as platinum and iridium oxide. In contrast, our method produces a family of new high-performance and low-cost catalysts”. Scientists achieved this new catalyst by simultaneously controlling composition, size and crystallinity of metal oxides of earth-abundant elements such as iron, cobalt and nickel. This allows building a completely different type of zinc-air battery that would be relatively easy to charge.

Initial tests showed how promising this technology really is. Over 60 discharging/charging cycles of 120 hours scientists could only observe less than a 10 % battery efficacy drop. That is excellent efficacy, but further research and experiments could improve on that greatly. In fact, zinc-air technology is better than lithium-ion batteries in pretty much all areas except charging.

First of all, zinc-air batteries are much cheaper to produce. There is so much more zinc on Earth than lithium and it is easier to extract. Furthermore, theoretically zinc-air batteries can store up to five times more energy than lithium-ion batteries, which are already praised for their capacity. Finally, zinc-air technology would be much safer and more environmentally friendly – no more exploding devices and recycling would be less of a problem. Now we have to wait until scientists will actually make a working, fully rechargeable prototype, capable of powering an everyday device.

Published in Hi Tech.
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