New Rechargeable Calcium Battery Could Reshape Energy Storage

A humble and abundant element found in chalk, rocks, and even our own bones may hold the key to next-generation battery technology that is cheaper, more plentiful, and environmentally sustainable. The element? Calcium. The development of a new rechargeable calcium battery has the potential to fundamentally reshape the landscape of energy storage.


Calcium: The Abundant and Affordable Solution?

Researchers at Fudan University in Shanghai have achieved a groundbreaking milestone – developing the first rechargeable calcium battery that can operate reliably at room temperature. The development of a new rechargeable calcium battery innovation has the potential to reshape the energy storage landscape, currently dominated by lithium-ion technology.

The lithium conundrum is well-known. While lithium batteries have powered the mobile revolution and emergence of electric vehicles, lithium itself is a relatively scarce natural resource. With global demand soaring and supplies limited, a lithium shortage could throttle growth in renewable energy storage and electrified transportation.

Dr. Li Xiang, leading the research team at Fudan, emphasized the importance of securing sufficient lithium supplies for the continued growth of sustainable energy sectors such as renewables and electric vehicles (EVs). He suggested that calcium batteries could offer a more cost-effective, readily available, and safety-focused alternative while maintaining energy storage performance.

Calcium’s appeal lies in its cosmic abundance. It’s the fifth most prevalent element in the Earth’s crust and found virtually everywhere – from limestone to seawater to our own skeletons. Calcium outcrops dwarf global lithium reserves by a staggering 2,500 times, offering a potentially inexhaustible supply.

Not only is calcium plentiful, but calcium-based batteries like calcium-air systems boast incredibly high theoretical energy densities – the amount of electrical charge stored per unit weight. Some projections suggest calcium-air could even leapfrog lithium-ion’s energy density.

In Dr. Li’s explanation, it was noted that among the calcium battery formulations investigated, the calcium-oxygen systems exhibited the highest theoretical energy density. This is because the battery capitalizes on ambient air as the fuel source rather than storing an oxidizer internally.


Overcoming Historical Hurdles

Despite the allure of calcium batteries, creating a rechargeable version that operates stably at room temperature had remained an elusive goal for researchers—until now. Previous attempts faltered due to a fundamental issue: during the charging and discharging cycles, calcium reactions occurred that limited the battery’s capacity and rechargeability.

Dr. Li described that finding an electrolyte, which is crucial for enabling the battery to charge and discharge, without causing the problematic calcium reactions, had been a significant challenge.


The Electrolyte Breakthrough

To solve this obstacle, the Fudan University team engineered a unique liquid-based electrolyte capable of housing both the calcium and oxygen components of the battery without triggering capacity-draining reactions.

Their ingenious electrolyte design paid off, resulting in a calcium-oxygen battery that could be recharged up to 700 cycles while retaining stable performance at room temperature—an unprecedented achievement for calcium-based battery technology.

Dr. Li expressed that our research, which transforms calcium chemistry into a viable and eco-friendly energy storage solution, opens the door for calcium-based batteries to potentially supplant lithium-ion batteries in various applications.


Flexible and Wearable Power

But the team’s innovations didn’t stop there. They took their calcium-oxygen battery a step further by depositing its components onto flexible fibers, which they then wove into breathable, bendable textile batteries.

“Using a commercial braiding machine, we created textile batteries that can power electronic devices such as mobile phones,” Dr. Li said. “Remarkably, our fiber batteries operated stably even when bent from zero to 180 degrees, showcasing their potential for next-generation wearable systems.”


A Potential Game-Changer, But More Work Ahead

While the performance and capacity of their current calcium-oxygen battery still have room for improvement, the researchers are optimistic that further engineering advancements can enhance its operation.

“Our research has opened up new avenues to produce calcium batteries with other materials and configurations,” Dr. Li noted. “With continued progress, calcium-based batteries could transform into a disruptive technology that offers a cheaper, more sustainable, and higher-performing alternative to lithium-ion batteries.”

As the world races to meet the soaring demand for renewable energy storage and electric transportation, the development of a viable, rechargeable calcium battery could prove to be a pivotal breakthrough. By harnessing one of the Earth’s most abundant elements, this technology has the potential to reshape the energy storage landscape and accelerate the transition towards a cleaner, more sustainable future.

(Information for this report has been obtained from Balkan Green Energy News.)

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