The first liquid metal battery that can operate at room temperature

Researchers at the University of Texas have managed to create a liquid metal battery capable of operating at 20 degrees Celsius, well below the 240 degrees Celsius usually required. Such batteries would be quicker to charge and much more durable.

Here is a discovery that could signal the end of lithium-ion batteries . Researchers from the University of Texas at Austin have just created a new battery in metal entirely liquid . Accumulators of this type already exist, but need to be heated to more than 240 degrees Celsius to prevent the metals from solidifying. In a study published in the journal  Advanced Materials , the researchers describe their approach which works at only 20 degrees Celsius.

To create this battery capable of operating at room temperature, the researchers used an alloy of sodium and potassium (Na-K) for the anode , and an alloy based on gallium (Ga) for the cathode . An organic electrolyte separates the two.

Much more durable batteries

Most electronic devices use lithium-ion type batteries with solid electrodes . They lose capacity over time because dendrites form on the electrodes, which reduce the insulation between the anode and the cathode, and can eventually create a short circuit . This problem does not arise with liquid electrodes which are therefore much more durable.

Liquid batteries can be recharged faster. In addition, it is very easy to make it with different capacities and on different scales, simply by changing the amount of liquid. Researchers imagine adapting this technology as much for portable accessories as for  electrical networks . With a minimum temperature of 20 degrees Celsius, it will probably be necessary to further refine the concept to be able to use these batteries in winter