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A Milestone In The Quest For Sustainable Energy: OSU Researchers Devise New Hydronium Ion Battery

If you are scientifically sound with the terms “Green Energy”, “Sustainable Energy”, “Renewable Energy”, you have probably harbored the notion of living without killing the hope for future generation. In short, that is what is fed into our mind in CH-201 Engineering Chemistry classes. However, going global and practical many research students embed the concepts directly to a practical system that can serve humankind. Likewise, a group of researchers at Oregon State University has shown phenomenal research work empowering high-power, sustainable energy storage.

Over the years, the global community has witnessed numerous ways to strengthen battery life, catalytic storage of energy, bacteria made battery and many other frugal methods to nurture similar goals of providing a nature friendly energy that doesn’t wear out easily and yet, another thousand methods are untouched and yet to deliver a brighter side of the same inference. The latest research developed in OSU claims that their product is the world’s first only aqueous cation hydronium driven battery.

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Additionally, the research outcome offers the option to nurture the scope of stationary storage which is further explained by the report itself. As it is revealed, the stationary storage is related to the secondary method of storing energy for emergency purpose where the battery is placed in a permanent location which harnesses grid power, including power generated by the means of renewable energy (eg. hydel power, solar power etc). Another important term Hydronium ion or H3O+ is defined as the positively charged ion that is born when a proton is pushed into a water molecule.

The group of chemists, on the way, discovered that the hydronium ion can be reversibly stored in a crystalline 3,4,9,10-perylenetetracarboxylic dianhydridem (PTCDA) made electrode. The material used in electrode can be characterized as an organic, crystalline, molecular solid. Moreover, the electrolytic solution used in the customized OSU battery is a dilute sulfuric acid.

While explaining about the recent project, Xiulei Ji, assistant professor of chemistry at OSU has emphasized that the concept itself is a significant contribution towards sustainable batteries. Unlike other potential research findings, this one is devoid of lithium or sodium or potassium charge carriers and only uses nature abundant acid solution to breathe life into the process. This gives a proper reason to call it nature friendly renewable method of generating energy.

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Different Chemical Samples Used In The Process ( Comparison) [source: Wiley]

Xiulei also highlighted that all the cations used till date fall under the category of alkali metal, alkaline earth metals or aluminum which suggests that till date, no non-metals were never considered. Explaining at molecular level, the PTCDA lattice exhibits notable dilations while receiving ions between the layers of its structure. This process is known as intercalation which suggests that the electrode was being charged and the hydronium ions expanded PTCDA structure.

Owing to the crystalline structure of PTCDA with a lot of internal space the material can trap H3O+ with an additional capacity. Although the research explores a promising field it is not ready to give immediate results and requires further exploration. The research has been published in the Angewandte Chemie International Edition, a publication of the German Chemical Society where Xingfeng Wang, a graduate student is featured as the first author.

Source: Wiley

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