Researchers at the University of Bremen are currently working successfully on the next generation of energy storage systems. Their goal is to produce aqueous zinc-ion batteries that eliminate any risk of explosion or fire. In the renowned scientific publication Nature Communications, Professor Fabio La Mantia and his team have now described the main challenges that need to be overcome in the further development of the novel battery technology.
The environmentally friendly energy supply of the future is one of the most discussed topics of our time. Our society must and wants to become independent of fossil fuels in order to reduce CO2 emissions and defy climate change. “Green energy” from renewable sources such as wind farms and solar panels has received an unprecedented boost. But just as important as “harvesting” the electricity is developing ever cheaper and more environmentally friendly energy storage systems. This is the only way to stabilize the power grid in the future, because it has to be protected against power peaks or blackouts.
“Unfortunately, the already established energy storage technologies – such as the widely used lithium-ion batteries – are suboptimal in terms of environmental friendliness, cost-effectiveness and safety due to the very strict specifications of the stationary energy storage market,” says Professor Fabio La Mantia, head of the “Energy Storage and Energy Conversion Systems” department at the University of Bremen. He and his team are therefore researching in a different direction: “There is an emerging green energy storage technology based on abundant and inexpensive metallic zinc. Aqueous zinc-ion batteries could solve the current problems!”
Water-based technology eliminates hazards
Because this technology is water-based, any risk of explosion or fire is eliminated. In addition – as the name suggests – zinc-ion batteries consist mainly of metallic zinc and other mostly inexpensive and non-toxic materials. This not only reduces the final price of green energy, but at the same time reduces the risk of pollution.
Despite the good preconditions, however, aqueous zinc-ion battery technology is currently still far from large-scale commercialization. Researchers at the University of Bremen are focusing on overcoming the challenges to make aqueous zinc-ion batteries market-ready. Fabio La Mantia’s research group is focusing on the development of novel zinc-based anodes. They are designed to improve the stability and service life of zinc-ion batteries. In addition, the group is working on the development of low-cost environmentally friendly cathode materials and the optimization of water-based electrolytes.
Now, in the prestigious scientific journal Nature Communications, Professor La Mantia and his team have described the important challenges that the scientific community will soon face in advancing this novel battery technology. In addition, they have developed guidelines for good experimental practice so that scientists from around the world can align their research efforts with industry standards and needs. Fabio La Mantia: “The goal is to accelerate the commercialization of this promising environmentally friendly battery technology.”
About the research group
The research group “Energy Storage and Energy Conversion Systems” was established in July 2015 in the Department of Production Engineering at the University of Bremen in cooperation with Fraunhofer IFAM. It is made up of a group of young scientists working in particular on the electrochemical conversion of chemical energy into electrical energy and developing efficient methods for energy storage. The group addresses a variety of different topics in experimental electrochemistry, with experiments supported by physical modeling.
The research of aqueous zinc-ion batteries in the research group of Professor La Mantia is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) through the project “ZIB” (FKZ 03XP0204A).
Link to original publication:
Giorgia Zampardi, Fabio La Mantia, “Open challenges and good experimental practices in the research field of aqueous Zn-ion batteries,” Nature Communications, 2022, DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28381-x, https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-28381-x