Can lithium and supercapacitors solve our dilemma?

Batteries may eventually end our dependence on fossil fuels, but they also have potential environmental costs. Our next challenge is to find ways to make the battery as clean as the energy stored in it.

The Great Green Dilemma

"We are accelerating the transition to cleaner electricity, and there are many exciting things going on right now.". However, if we are to truly achieve a leap towards the future of electricity, there is an important obstacle that needs to be overcome: we need truly clean batteries. Although energy storage technology is advancing rapidly, there is still a way to go to reduce the negative impact of batteries on the environment. However, innovative companies are already taking measures to address this important issue

Is lithium what we're looking for?

Lithium batteries are currently the preferred energy storage solution for manufacturers of electric vehicles, mobile phones, tablets, and laptops. It's easy to see why: They are efficient chargers, easy to handle, and have a higher energy density than alkaline batteries. Investors call it "platinum," and demand for lithium doubled between 2016 and 2018 as battery manufacturers sought to acquire the silver white alkali metal. Although there are 43 million tons (39 million metric tons) of material on Earth, only one-third of it can be mined; Of these, 87% are found in salt water, mostly within the so-called "lithium triangle" of South America.

The production process of lithium, or more specifically, lithium carbonate, involves drilling holes in salt flats and pumping salt and mineral rich brine to the surface. This brine will be evaporated and the resulting salts will be filtered, so that lithium carbonate can be extracted. Although this is a very simple process, it requires a large amount of water and takes 18 to 24 months.

Audi tests factory vehicles powered by lithium ion batteries from electric vehicles. After recycling batteries, they can continue to be used in a reasonable and sustainable manner.

Audi is one of those companies that want to make lithium battery production faster and more environmentally friendly. For example, at the end of the battery life cycle, valuable elements can be extracted and reused in new products; In some cases, the entire lithium battery may be reused for secondary use to power transportation and factory vehicles. With this in mind, recycling retired batteries has become a major focus for Audi.

The energy density of these batteries also has room to increase - thereby reducing the size of the battery and the actual amount of lithium required - while also reducing the use of rare metals such as cobalt and expensive components.

Tsuyoshi Hoshino of the Rokkasho Fusion Research Institute of the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency recently proposed another idea in the journal "Desalination" - the use of dialysis to recover lithium from seawater. The system uses a special membrane that only lithium ions can pass through. Although not ready for commercialization, Hoshino said his penetration technology "demonstrates good energy efficiency and ease of expansion."

Are graphene supercapacitors really super?

As lithium production continues to improve, experts are also vigorously promoting alternative products such as graphene supercapacitors. Although they sound like spaceships, they may help solve the energy dilemma on Earth. Supercapacitors do not store electrical energy as chemically equipotential alkaline or lithium batteries in a neutral electric field, similar to the way static electricity accumulates on the surface of a balloon.

The addition of 'magical material' graphene creates a super capacitor that is powerful and lightweight. Although it is still too early, the graphene battery market is expected to reach $115 million by 2022, with Chinese and Spanish companies using supercapacitors to power products ranging from laptops to electric motorcycles.

However, there is a big problem with all this. Supercapacitors - even graphene - cannot last long. Imagine how annoying it was when your phone's battery plummeted, and then imagine how bad it would be when you were in a car a few miles from the charging station!

Today, Audi electron accelerators are already being produced at a carbon neutral plant in Brussels. Can we store clean electricity in similarly clean batteries?

A practical and environmentally friendly battery looks like the Holy Grail, but in Delft, the Netherlands, a group of innovators at AquaBells believe they have found it. Blue batteries store energy -- you guessed it -- water, which can store all the ecological electricity produced in the Netherlands in a 100% sustainable way. So how does it work?

The current flowing through brine decomposes it into concentrated brine and freshwater - a process called electrodialysis - while storing energy. In the second discharge stage, this process is reversed, where the two types of water combine to release the collected energy, which is then converted into electricity through a special membrane stack.

This is a simple and safe technology that has the potential to store large amounts of electrical energy for use when needed - for example, ensuring that a city's power grid always has enough energy to meet demand. Although the current scale of the construction in Delft is relatively small, David Vermaas, the director of water batteries, has significant plans; He wants to promote his blue battery to places where salt and fresh water meet, such as the Dutch waterway. The energy potential is enormous.

Lithium batteries currently provide the most practical solution for storing energy and will continue to be an integral part of providing power for the next generation of electric vehicles. However, in the next decade or so, you may find yourself recharging from the blue battery powered grid. As we strive for excellence, it is expected that they will provide a true alternative that will change our relationship with renewable energy. Whether it's power generation, storage, or electric vehicle power, people hope that one day, every stage of the energy journey will be 100% green.

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The principle of supercapacitors

Electric double layer capacitor is a new type of capacitor based on the interface double layer theory proposed by physicist Helmholtz. It is well known that excess charges with opposite symbols appear on the surface of metal electrodes inserted into electrolyte solutions and on both sides of the liquid surface, resulting in potential differences between phases.

Test methods for fixed capacitors

1. Detection of small capacitors below 10pF: Because the capacity of fixed capacitors below 10pF is too small, using a multimeter to measure can only qualitatively check whether there is leakage, internal short circuit, or breakdown. When measuring, a multimeter R can be selected × At 10k gear, use two probes to arbitrarily connect the two pins of the capacitor, and the resistance value should be always high. If the measured resistance value (pointer swinging to the right) is zero, it indicates that the capacitor is damaged due to leakage or internal breakdown.

What are the classifications of capacitors?

According to analysis and statistics, capacitors are mainly divided into the following 10 categories: 1. According to structure, they are divided into three categories: fixed capacitors, variable capacitors, and fine tuning capacitors. 2. Classification by dielectric: organic dielectric capacitor, inorganic dielectric capacitor, electrolytic capacitor, electrothermal capacitor, air dielectric capacitor, etc.

Function of capacitor

In a DC circuit, a capacitor is equivalent to an open circuit. A capacitor is a device that can store electric charges and is also one of the commonly used electronic components.