New batteries that mimic the human intestine could store 5 times more energy

New batteries that mimic the human intestine could store 5 times more energy

by Peter Dockrill, Science Alert

Scientists have developed a new prototype battery inspired by the anatomy of the human intestine, and the biologically informed approach could pave the way for much more powerful energy sources for our digital devices.

The prototype – which offers up to five times the energy density of the lithium-ion batteries we use in smartphones and laptops – uses a lithium-sulphur cellinstead, and its intestine-mimicking design could finally make these energy-dense batteries long-lasting enough for commercial use.

The research, led by a team from the University of Cambridge in the UK, overcomes one of the major drawbacks of lithium-sulphur batteries, which is that they degrade much faster than lithium-ion cells, despite their superior energy density.

When a lithium-sulphur battery discharges, sulphur in the cathode (the battery’s positive electrode) absorbs lithium from the anode (negative electrode). This interaction causes the sulphur molecules to transform into chain-like structures called poly-sulphides.

After the battery goes through numerous charge-discharge cycles, the reaction starts to stress the cathode, leading to bits of the poly-sulphides breaking off and entering the battery’s electrolyte, which joins the two electrodes.

When this happens, the battery starts to degrade, as it loses its active material that stores the energy.

And that’s where the gut inspiration comes in.

Read the full article here…

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