A new type of battery developed by scientists at Oregon State University – the first to use only hydronium ions (H 3 O +) as the charge carrier – shows promise for sustainable, high-power energy storage, the school announced on February 20.
The new battery provides an additional option for researchers, particularly in the area of stationary storage for the grid – including stockpiling of power generated from alternative energy sources (such as wind or solar plants) for use on a standby or emergency basis.
Hydronium is a positively charged ion produced when a proton is added to a water molecule. Researchers in the OSU College of Science have demonstrated that hydronium ions can be reversibly stored in an electrode material consisting of perylenetetracarboxylic dianhydridem (PTCDA)., an organic semiconductor.
The battery, created in the Department of Chemistry at Oregon State, uses dilute sulfuric acid as the electrolyte.
Graduate student Xingfeng Wang was the first author on the study, which has been published in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a publication of the German Chemical Society.
“This may provide a paradigm-shifting opportunity for more sustainable batteries,” said Xiulei Ji, assistant professor of Chemistry at OSU and the corresponding author on the research. “It doesn’t use lithium or sodium or potassium to carry the charge, and just uses acid as the electrolyte. There’s a huge natural abundance of acid so it’s highly renewable and sustainable.”
Ji points out that until now, cations – which are ions with a positive charge – that have been used in batteries have been made of alkali metal, alkaline earth metals, or aluminum.
“No nonmetal cations [positively charged ions] were being considered seriously for batteries,” he said.
“It’s not going to power electric cars,” Ji said. “But it does provide an opportunity for battery researchers to go in a new direction as they look for new alternatives for energy storage, particularly for stationary grid storage.”