Scientists are developing magnesium batteries, safer and more efficient than traditional...

By William Gayde · 21 replies
Dec 2, 2017
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  1. Efficient energy storage is one of the main issues holding back large scale renewable energy projects. On a more personal note, that's also the reason why we still have to charge our phones more or less every day. These batteries need to be charged very carefully since the internal components are flammable. Scientists at the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research are looking for a better solution and have been making some recent breakthroughs.

    Their research is focusing on magnesium-based batteries rather than traditional lithium-ion technologies. Preliminary findings show that these new "Magnesium Intercalation System" batteries are safer and have a higher energy density than lithium.

    The Berkeley Lab scientists who are doing the research point to the way the electrolyte behaves as a key differentiating factor. Traditional batteries use a liquid electrolyte to transport the charge from anode to cathode. Damages to the outer casing or overcharging can cause this electrolyte to heat up and catch fire.

    When designing the magnesium battery, they couldn't find a high performance electrolyte that was compatible, so the Department of Energy team just designed their own.

    The new solid-state electrolyte is formed from magnesium scandium selenide spinel and allows the magnesium ions to move at an "unprecedented speed" through the battery. Teams at MIT and Argonne National Laboratory also provided assistance to the team.

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  2. Kashim

    Kashim TS Booster Posts: 37   +31

    Yeah, yeah, another pie in the sky battery tech. I'll believe it when I see these new batteries sold on Amazon.
  3. ChrisH1

    ChrisH1 TS Booster Posts: 70   +46

    Great, because magnesium is far, far more available than lithium. Makes sense about the density too, as it's divalent.

    ... but.

    Scandium? Really? THAT is a very rare element. Well, not rare as such, but there are few good concentrated ores. Worldwide annual production is about 10 tons! Unless they can figure out a way to use something else (aluminium, or maybe a magnesium based electrolyte) this isn't going to fly.

    Like lithium batteries, where one of the most expensive and problematic components is cobalt, it's not always the main technology that's the limiting factor.
    Reehahs, tomkaten and JaredTheDragon like this.
  4. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,724   +1,122

    So what happen to all the graphane hype? XD

    Well if these come to base, better keep it away from water.
    ShagnWagn, TheBigT42 and p51d007 like this.
  5. Per Hansson

    Per Hansson TS Server Guru Posts: 1,963   +218

    If all the battery tech articles published on Techspot in the last decade had actually come to fruition we'd now be a Type II civilization on the Kardashev scale!
  6. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Maniac Posts: 259   +150

    "...and allows the magnesium ions to move at an "unprecedented speed" through the battery. "

    Do they mean, you know, light speed? The actual speed of electricity, since it's not the speed of the electrons or these magnesium ions that causes electricity, but photons themselves?

    It's amazing that cutting-edge "tech firms" are still ten years behind in physics. These guys can't even tell us what E/M is, and here they are struggling to make batteries.
  7. senketsu

    senketsu TS Guru Posts: 409   +260

    well then why aren't you travelling the world, enlightening physicists everywhere and showing them the error of their ways. Where are the physics textbooks you authored and what university do you have tenure at? Just asking
  8. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Maniac Posts: 259   +150

    Probably because I'm a student and don't pay too much attention to those wielding logical fallacies all willy-nilly on the Internet. Yes, it is horrible for you, religiously believing that one needs a degree or money to do real science and not actually knowing what electricity is, or magnetism, or charge. I apologize for making you feel like a failure here, bud.

    You can use the Internet to catch up on these topics if you like. It's pretty easy to do.
  9. senketsu

    senketsu TS Guru Posts: 409   +260

    so you are the student who knows more than their teachers. I guess that Heisenberg, Niels Bohr, Richard Feynman et al., should all hide their degrees in their bottom drawer and leave their institutions to do some real science.
    I'm just tired of your posts how you have the REAL knowledge and all the articles relating to physics on TechSpot are all crackpot stuff because as you state (relating to this article where the scientists involved are the Joint Centre for Energy Research, the Berkley Lab as well as teams at MIT and Argonne National LaboratoryTeams who were also involved are poor souls "not actually knowing what electricity is, or magnetism, or charge." (your words). Guess you are the only one who does, so do us a favour, leave the keyboard and go and enlighten the world. Last from me on this. I'll just grind my teeth from now on cause I'm too dumb not to read the comments
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2017
  10. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Maniac Posts: 259   +150

    Yeah, go ahead and name some additional abject failures in modern physics while you're pontificating. Standard QM has been falsified for years, decades even. QED and QCD have thrown nothing but errors, superposition is action at a distance, entanglement is just magic-wand magic, and all three of those numbskulls should have been booed off-stage as soon as Schrodinger demolished Heisenberg. Feynman tells us himself that QED is nothing more than bald heuristics and lacks any real physics - but obviously you missed that part since you never read his "work". And nobody has ever found a "quark", and never will since they don't exist except in terrible math.

    I don't care about enlightening the world - the mainstream physics world doesn't even believe in light. Bohr and Heisenberg told us the photon was a "virtual messenger particle" only, remember? It's not even real. It's just math to them, which is one of the chief reasons their theories have failed. They don't even believe in their own ability to see, and yet all the sycophants like you just worship their every nonsensical word.

    "Shut up and calculate." - Feynman
  11. Kraemepoo

    Kraemepoo TS Enthusiast Posts: 44   +20

    Hard to hold back from lashing out rudely. So I'll just explain.
    No, they don't mean light speed. Ions are not photons and Ions don't rip through batteries at the speed of light. The speed of electricity waves through wires is measured as VF (percentage of the speed of light) Typically electricity waves move between 50-99% of the speed of light through cables.
    However, it's not the EM waves we're talking about its the ions... Even a single electron moving at the speed of light would have infinite observed mass. Observed mass = m′/(1-v²/c²).
    Ions in fact move very slowly through the battery, can be measured as a few cm/hour.
    ross01 likes this.
  12. JaredTheDragon

    JaredTheDragon TS Maniac Posts: 259   +150

    You are correct here, but what you're missing (and my chief complaint here) is the very definition of electricity and charge. There are no "electricity waves", to start with. Just like these technicians and engineers, you obviously don't even know what electricity is. You almost get there, with your reiteration that electricity moves at light speed minus impedance (50-99% c, as you said, but then you falter.

    Electricity is charge (photons) moving pole to pole through the nucleus - and magnetism is the spinning, equatorial emission of photons from the nucleus. A wave is a motion, not a thing, and that's one of the fundamental and most intrinsic falsifications of standard electrotheory to begin with as well. The wave/particle duality is patently false, and a huge sign we should have never listened to those people in the first place. And then you somehow magically call a finite number "infinite" in your mass equation, showing us that you also can't do math. Exactly what numbers could you plug into the mass observance equation that would equal infinity? You cannot produce them, because you're wrong. Any particle in motion has more mass the faster it moves, but that's not anything like infinity. You don't seem to know what words mean. It comes from the same school of thought that believes the photon to be a "virtual messenger" particle with no mass, even though Einstein's energy equation tells us that photons have mass, outright. You cannot have energy without mass, and mass is simply the propensity to transfer velocity in a collision. Mass isn't a single measurable attribute, as every physicist knows.

    And that's my beef here. Currently, our computer tech uses the electron as its operating particle, but the electrons in electricity are just along for the ride, carried along by the photon charge streams moving from pole to pole through a medium. The modern transistor is basically an electron switch when we should be working with photons. This is why we're stuck at ~5GHz with processors and why they're so massively inefficient, pouring out so much heat. That heat IS the charge field, the photons pushing the electrons through and then existing the transistor instead of being utilized. They're using the wrong particle. The photon is some billions of times smaller than the electron and much faster too, and is the fundamental charge particle. Batteries don't store charge, they merely prime the local field, which is constantly full of charge already. If we focused more on real physics, we would get better results from real engineering.

    And that is why these magneisum ions "move at an "unprecedented speed" through the battery." They are being propelled by charge, which is photons themselves.
    wiyosaya likes this.
  13. flipp3r

    flipp3r TS Rookie

    I've seen magnesium burning & it's a lot of fun! Is it really safer???
  14. ChrisH1

    ChrisH1 TS Booster Posts: 70   +46

    A bit. You have to make an effort to get magnesium to burn. Lithium will go up by itself in water in sufficient quantity. It's a much more reactive element. But in lithium batteries, it's the electrolyte that's the main hazard. Very flammable. The safety comes from the electrolyte being a solid.
  15. misor

    misor TS Evangelist Posts: 1,291   +246

    How about dilithium? :) star trek tech ftw!
    TheBigT42 likes this.
  16. TheBigT42

    TheBigT42 TS Addict Posts: 170   +86

    The problem is we don't have any on this planet.
  17. ShagnWagn

    ShagnWagn TS Enthusiast Posts: 80   +49

    Just because a person in the room has a title of "teacher" doesn't mean they are the smartest. I've had several co-workers over the years with "higher" titles than me (and paid more) that should be well below me. When I interview people for the job, most often the people without degrees or certifications are often much smarter. Not tooting my own horn, but that is how the real world is. You don't need a degree to be intelligent at a certain subject.
  18. MannerMauler

    MannerMauler TS Addict Posts: 186   +44

    It's the powdered stuff you have to worry about. Magnesium as a big chunk of metal is really good at dissipating heat. It's hard to catch a solid block on fire, but powdered magnesium, even just scrapings, is extremely flammable. This is why magnesium fire starters work. You can also find powdered or granulated magnesium in fireworks and pyromaniac stuff. Putting a block of magnesium on the back of a car and doing wheelies will give you a giant shower of white sparks.
  19. Abraka

    Abraka TS Enthusiast Posts: 47   +22

    Correct. Same in medicine. It's full of hype, medicine this, medicine that, but when you really check out their level of tech, they are still in stone age. Which doesn't prevent them from charging us a fortune for this impotent medieval "modern" medicine. Even battery tech is moving forward faster than medicine. Even wounded snails are moving faster than medicine.
  20. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,117   +888

    If this ever comes to market, the cost will depend on the concentration of scandium in the mix. They give a long list of chemicals in the electrolyte formula, and the fact that it ends with "spinel" (MgAl2O4) gives me the impression it might be crystalline, or perhaps an amorphous ceramic in nature. However, the list of elements in the electrolyte reminds me of those associated with photonic crystals, and, in such crystals, the active components are sometimes a very low percentage of the whole.
    For anyone interested, here is a link to an article about some research where the researchers managed to photograph light at both particle and wave at the same time.
    This was published in a peer-reviewed journal, however, I do not know if anyone has debunked this or not at this point. The article itself is simplified, but there is a link to the research paper if anyone wants to go deeper.

    EDIT: Certain types of mathematics do not necessarily express everything in a way that is the most effective. There are those working in Geometric Algebra these days, and in that frame, Maxwell's equations reduce to a singular equation and the older version of his equations can be thought of as artifacts. This is only one example.

    The best in science are capable of seeing that science is not necessarily set in stone, but progresses along with humanity.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2017
    senketsu likes this.
  21. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 2,117   +888

    IMO, a better place for the application of graphene would be in supercapacitors.
  22. Athlonite

    Athlonite TS Booster Posts: 101   +22

    You obviously forgot about Mag Wheels then originally made from magnesium which if heated enough by hot brakes would catch fire this why they no longer use magnesium in wheel rims

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