Scientists introduce new design strategy to develop greener batteries

The researchers used a small prototype of a new aqueous zinc-manganese dioxide battery (bottom center) to demonstrate its ability to store renewable energy on the grid. At night, it powers a sign.

A research team at Tianjin University has introduced a new design strategy to maximize the full potential of zinc-manganese dioxide (Zn–MnO2) batteries and double their storage capacity.

The research is of great significance in terms of meeting the increasing demand to develop safe, stable and environmentally-friendly rechargeable batteries with high energy density.

The work, undertaken by a team led by Prof. Hu Wenbin and Prof. Zhong Cheng, has been published in Nature Energy.

Overcoming the issues of low voltage and low energy density in zinc-manganese batteries, the team’s research unlocks the possibility of the large-scale use of this kind of battery in rechargeable electronic products such as smart phones, laptops and tablets.

“It is very promising that with the new design strategy, we will be able to produce low-cost and safe Zn-MnO2 batteries with exceptionally high open-circuit voltages and a prolonged lifecycle,” Prof. Zhong noted.

Furthermore, their team also demonstrated the feasibility of integrating Zn–MnO2 batteries with a wind and photovoltaic hybrid power generating system, which increases the batteries’ sustainability.

According to Prof. Zhong, the research team has signed contracts with some local power stations to jointly study the prospects of using these batteries in practical applications.