Engineers created a structural battery resistant battery with water-shaped electrolyte

Researchers from Michigan University presented a prototype of a «structural» zinc battery with a solid variegated electrolyte, which even damage continues to work stably and safely.

The idea of a structural battery is to accumulate and store energy in structural elements, such as a vehicle bumper or a wing of a drone, reducing their total weight. Scientists from Ann Arbor discovered that the fabric of our knee and the battery of the smartphone have surprisingly similar needs. It inspired them to create a prototype of a safe and light battery from a variety of wicker material, durable and easily structured.

In the developed prototype, aramid nanofibers (material of body armor), act as collagen, and polyethylene oxide and zinc salt are analogues of soft cartilage components. For the full functioning of the device, the team connected zinc electrodes with manganese oxide. This combination of standard alkaline batteries, but in this case, instead of a separator and electrolyte, a pioneer membrane is used.

During the test, the prototype continued to work stably even after cross-cutting punctures and removal of individual parts. Such unique properties are due to the solid electrolyte structure, which allows ions to move freely from one electrode to another. It also prevents the growth of dendrites — metal detergents, which are delivered to the separator between the electrodes and create bands for the movement of electrons, which leads to a circuit of the chain and may cause fire. It is for this reason that manufacturers had previously ignored zinc.

Mounted on drones, zinc batteries increased the flight time by 5-25%, depending on the size of the element, the mass of the drone and weather conditions. At this stage, they are best suited as secondary sources of energy, because they still can not be charged and discharge as quickly as lithium-ion analogs. However, the engineers team has already started searching for a better electrode, which will speed up these processes and extend the service life. Now the prototypes are capable of working effectively more than 100 cycles at 90% of the capacity.

Previously, we wrote that Honda’s research division developed