Read the full story from the University of Chicago.
With more than a trillion tons of carbon dioxide now circulating in the atmosphere, and global temperatures projected to rise anywhere from 2 degrees to 9.7 degrees Fahrenheit in the next 80 years, switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy is a subject of critical attention. To make that switch, humanity will need entirely new methods for storing energy.
The current standard, lithium-ion batteries, rely on flammable electrolytes and can only be recharged about a thousand times before their capacity is dramatically reduced. Other potential successors have their own issues. Lithium metal batteries, for example, suffer from a short lifespan due to long needle-like deformities called dendrites that develop whenever electrons are shuttled between Li-metal batteries’ anode and cathode.
To Chibueze Amanchukwu, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Molecular Engineering at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at the University of Chicago, such thorny chemistry boils down to one flawed and often overlooked process—modern electrolyte design.