New Electrocatalyst Discovered For Metal-Air Batteries

Electrocatalyst For Metal-Air Batteries

The International Advanced Research Centre for Powder Metallurgy and New Materials has developed catalysts that are believed to reduce the overall costs and improve the efficiency of metal-air batteries.


What are Metal-Air Batteries?

A metal-air battery is a type of battery in which there is a base metal that acts as a negative electrode and oxygen (in the air) acts as the positive electrode.

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Since oxygen and air are readily available everywhere, the whole battery can be utilized only for the negative electrode. This is one of the reasons why metal-air batteries are smaller in size. For negative electrodes, the most suitable metals are the ones that have negative redox potential. Redox Potential is the ease with which a molecule will accept electrons) and have a low molecular weight.

The best-suited candidates are lithium, magnesium, aluminum, iron, and zinc. So that’s why they are called metal-air batteries. Among all the metal-air batteries, lithium-air is quite popular and efficient. A fact explains this as with only a 10kg battery pack, one can drive up to 100 km with a single charge.

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Traditional Bi-Functional Catalysts

The International Advanced Research Centre (ARCI) has discovered a new bi-functional metal-based electrocatalyst that can not only increase the efficiency of metal-air batteries but is also believed that it will also marginalize the cost.

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The demand for clean energy is increasing due to the electric revolution. So different types of energy devices are being developed worldwide. For example lithium-ion batteries, lithium-air batteries, Sodium-air batteries, etc. Zinc-air batteries are also used increasingly due to their high energy density at a low cost as compared to lithium-air batteries and other metal-air batteries.

Metal-Air Batteries (Zinc Air Battery)
Metal-Air Battery
Zinc-Air Battery

The major advantage of these batteries is that they are compact in size. Consequently, these can be best suited for electric vehicles and portable energy-storage devices. However, there is also one challenge in this i.e. development of catalysts.

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A bi-functional catalyst works for the reduction of oxygen while battery discharging and the same catalyst helps in the evolution of oxygen while charging the battery. Most of these catalysts are made up of noble metals which makes the batteries costly.


Newly Discovered Catalysts

ARCI has developed less expensive catalysts by positioning the metal ions in the sulfur-doped carbon framework via polymer carbonization known as SPEEK which stands for Sulphonated Polyether Ether Ketone.

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In this process, the metal ions are positioned uniformly which makes low loading of transition metal. Hence, due to this low loading, the goal of cost-effectiveness is fulfilled. In the newly discovered catalysts, voltage polarization is also marginalized which makes the battery more efficient.


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