Just about every electronic in the world is, or could be, powered by some sort of battery. Your cell phone, your laptop and, of course, your Toyota vehicle. Sometimes those batteries just don’t last long enough for our liking – whether you’re trying to get some work done on the computer but you forgot your laptop charger, you went out of town for the weekend and forgot your phone charger and especially if you’re just trying to get to Grandma’s and back in a plug-in hybrid vehicle. But thanks to a breakthrough on a new technology called magnesium batteries, the future might have much-longer battery life in store.
[ READ MORE: Long-last Hybrid Plug-in – The 2017 Toyota Prius Prime ]
Magnesium vs. Lithium-Ion
While theories about magnesium metal being the perfect, logical next step in battery technology, without a magnesium-friendly electrolyte researchers never found a way to utilize it. What makes magnesium the better option? Lithium is a very unstable, flammable metal in origin but scientists discovered a way to make it safe for use in batteries. By taking ions out of the metal and embedding them into graphite rods, scientists created a safe, somewhat-powerful battery. However, due to its lack of a real metal substance, lithium-ion batteries cannot store as much power as we would like.
Which is where magnesium comes in. Unlike lithium, magnesium is quite stable in origin, which will allow it to store much more energy. So all we need now is a suitable electrolyte, and thanks to Ran Mohtadi, a chemical engineer employed by Toyota, we now have it. While researching a way to apply hydrogen storage materials to fuel cell technology, she discovered the materials might actually help with the other issue instead.
With an electrolyte found, now scientists simply need to begin researching how to utilize it and magnesium metal in the creation of batteries. So while we know these new magnesium batteries will far surpass lithium-ion, it may take a long time for the dream to become a reality, so lithium-ion will have to do for now.