Batteries for handheld devices such as cellphones often need to be disposed of after several years, but researchers at Australia’s RMIT School of Engineering have just created a recyclable battery that lasts for up to nine years.
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Recyclable long-lasting batteries at last
The team of researchers from RMIT used high-frequency sound waves to remove rust that inhibits battery performance. In Australia, only 10% of handheld batteries, including those used for mobile phones, are collected for recycling, which is low compared to other countries. Because batteries contain heavy metals and other materials that are harmful to the environment, this creates a problem both for waste and for environmental damage.
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Lithium ion batteries, the most commonly used batteries in laptops and other small devices, are hard to recycle or reuse. This new research may have a way around the challenges. Therefore, the key to long-lasting batteries is a nanomaterial called MXene, which could be a viable alternative to lithium for batteries in the future.
Leslie Yeo, Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and lead senior researcher on the project, says MXene is similar to graphene, which has high electrical conductivity. But MXene is even better for this purpose.
“Unlike graphene, MXenes are highly tailorable and open up a whole range of possible technological applications in the future,” said Yeo. But MXene rusts easily, which hampers the conductivity of the material. “To overcome this challenge, we discovered that sound waves at a certain frequency remove rust from MXene, restoring it to close to its original state.”
This means that MXene might be used in batteries that can be cleaned and reused every few years, extending their full lifetime up to three times.
“The ability to prolong the shelf life of MXene is critical to ensuring its potential to be used for commercially viable electronic parts,” Yeo said. The research was published in Nature Communications.
Cleaning batteries instead of throwing them in the landfill
Could the future of batteries be easy recycling or refurbishing? Could we think about batteries how we now think about trade-in cell phones?
Research co-lead author Mr Hossein Alijani, a PhD candidate, says that MXene is hard to use in its native form, but by altering it, it’s possible to create a useable material that could prolong the life of the batteries of the future.
“Current methods used to reduce oxidation rely on the chemical coating of the material, which limits the use of the MXene in its native form,” he explained. “In this work, we show that exposing an oxidized MXene film to high-frequency vibrations for just a minute removes the rust on the film. This simple procedure allows its electrical and electrochemical performance to be recovered.”
MXene could be used for environmental remediation
The team reports that this modified nanomaterial could be used for other applications in addition to batteries, from sensors and wireless transmission to environmental remediation. The ability to restore oxidized materials can change the game on making batteries and similar products into a circular economy, according to Associate Professor Amgad Rezk, one of the lead senior researchers.
Renewable energy and sensing technology could benefit from this research, as these technologies also require removal of oxide layers from materials involved in their operation. This could mean longer lasting renewable energy installations and power plants. The research team says the key is to work with industry to integrate their acoustic device into manufacturing processes.
Via Science Daily
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