Rechargeable Secondary Batteries Industry Advances as Fluorine Emerges as a Potential Substitute for Lithium

  • Analysis
  • 04-January-2021

The usage of rechargeable batteries in powering modern technology, mainly electric vehicle, has drastically increased since the past few years. Therefore, researchers have been trying to replace lithium-ion with alternative materials in rechargeable batteries due to the limited supply of cobalt and lithium used by modern batteries.

A team of material scientists hailing from the McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University has successfully discovered fluorine, a comparatively light and abundant element, to be a possible lithium alternative. However, fluoride ion is known to be the complete opposite of lithium-ion as it has the strongest attraction towards electrons, unlike the lithium ions, which in turn, allows it to smoothly carry out various electrochemical reactions. A team of researchers from Japan has also tested fluoride ion batteries as potential alternatives for the lithium-ion batteries in automobiles. According to them, fluoride-ion batteries can allow automobiles to run approximately 1,000 km on a single charge. But the latest fluoride-ion batteries are known to have poor cyclability as they degrade rapidly with multiple charge-discharge cycles.

A new approach to the already existing fluoride-ion battery arrangement has been adopted by researchers Rohan Mishra and Steven Hartman. The new approach identifies two materials that lose or gain fluoride ions and, at the same time, undergo structural changes to facilitate good cyclability. This newfangled discovery might prove extremely beneficial for the growth of the rechargeable secondary batteries industry in the upcoming years.

The newly discovered battery materials are layered electrides, and electrides are apparently a new class of materials whose properties came to the limelight in the past decade. These materials carry the ability to conduct electrons like all other ordinary metals, but, in the case of electrides, the electrons occupy specified interstitial sites inside the crystal structure, which is similar to an ion. The research team has predicted that the interstitial electrons can prove to be a great alternative to the fluoride ions without creating much deformation in the crystal structure, thereby enabling cyclability.

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