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Lithium excavation is an ecological problem

Lithium battery alternatives

Climate change is one of the most important issues facing the whole world right now. It is important to cut down on carbon emissions by using renewable energy sources and making energy storage systems that work well. We require a battery to store electric energy for these purposes. Lithium-ion batteries are used in portable electronics and electric cars because they have a high energy density and a long cycle life. Due lithium is expensive and there isn’t much of it, we need to find other ways to store energy.

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Alternative no 1 sodium-ion batteries (SIBs)

Sodium (Natrium) is not as expensive as lithium and has a more sustainable cost.Sodium has physic chemical properties similar to those of lithium.

But its ions are big and slow to move, which makes it hard for them to fit into the tiny structures of carbon in commercial graphite anodes. Consequently, SIB anodes suffer from structural instability and poor storage performance.

Recently, a group of researchers at Pusan National University in Korea, led by Professor Seung Geol Lee, used quinacridones as precursors to make carbonaceous SIB anodes.

Organic pigments such as quinacridones can be used as anode materials in sodium-ion batteries. “Given their high efficiency, they will provide an effective strategy for mass production of large-scale energy storage systems,” concludes Prof. Lee.This is still in the experimental stage. The main process is difficult and expensive.

Compared to Li-ion batteries, the current generation of sodium-ion batteries is more expensive and has a lower energy density, but can still deliver the same amount of power. In the future, the price of sodium-ion batteries is likely to go down, making them more affordable than lithium-ion batteries. Natrium is a readily available element.

Alternative no 2 oxygen -ion battery

According to professor Alexander Schmid of TU Wien’s Institute for Chemical Technologies and Analytic, researchers have long worked with ceramic materials suitable for fuel cells. This prompted me to wonder if these materials could also be used to create a battery. The components of oxygen-ion batteries are nonflammable and do not require the use of any rare materials during production. Large energy storage systems that need to store electricity generated from renewable sources may find the oxygen-ion battery to be an ideal solution. a novel approach using ceramic materials. The ceramics studied by the group from TU Wien have the ability to take in and release oxygen ions with two negative charges. Oxygen ions move from one ceramic material to another when an electric voltage is applied. When prompted to reverse course, an electric current is produced. The basic concept is quite similar to that of the lithium-ion battery, but the advantages of using those particular materials are substantial. The fireproof nature of ceramics Lithium-ion batteries have a small but real risk of catching fire. Rare and dangerous elements that are either prohibitively expensive to extract or can only be done so in a way that harms the environment are unnecessary. The prototype battery still incorporates lanthanum, which is neither extremely common nor extremely rare. But even lanthanum will be phased out in favor of a cheaper alternative, and studies toward that end are already underway.

Light metal candidates from neighborhood K, Ca and Mg

Lithium is the first metal in the first group of period elements, the alkali metals. The second element in that group is sodium, but that has already been said. The next group of elements in the periodic table are alkali earths. And the closest are magnesium and calcium, which are the first and second metals in that group. What are their chances of replacing lithium? Their main problem compared to lithium is the small density of energy storage in relation to their size. Calcium and magnesium are promising metals for the production of rechargeable batteries in the near future. Calcium is very widespread in nature, and the fifth element is widespread in the earth’s crust. Magnesium is in eighth place in terms of prevalence. The replacement of lithium with calcium and magnesium in static systems for the storage of electrical energy will lead to the stabilization of the system of electrical energy production from renewable systems. The energy density in calcium batteries has a density of 250 Wh/kg and a voltage of 4V. The obtained current density is 500 mA/g, and these experiments have already been dismantled. However, these are weaker characteristics compared to lithium-ion batteries. Magnesium, as a divalent, has a theoretical similarity with divalent lithium. Magnesium is much heavier than lithium, so its batteries will be heavier for the same energy class as lithium. So there are possibilities for magnesium batteries to be used in electric cars, but their batteries would be heavier and have a higher charging capacity.

Mass and Volume density

These characteristics best illustrate the capacity of light metals that can be used as an alternative to lithium. They are shown in the diagram below

Theoretical Capacities for diferent Battery Materials



The trend of rising electricity prices as well as falling solar panel prices increased interest in investments in renewable energy sources. Solar energy requires solar storage systems, which caused the demand for lithium. However, due to its small distribution in the earth’s crust and the dirty technology of lithium mining with incalculable environmental consequences, scientists around the world are rapidly working on alternative approaches to replace lithium with other cheaper and more widespread metals that, due to their mass, are ideal for fixed storage systems but not for electric vehicles. It is likely that lithium batteries will still be used for these purposes, but this is a compromise that humanity must  accept.


Mechanikal engineer and php programer, work in electric power industry more then25 years

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