How Toyota Researchers Made a Battery-Life Extending Breakthrough in Magnesium-Ion Technology

With the advent of Pokémon Go, the need for longer-lived batteries has never been so dire! Currently, the best battery technology we have is the lithium-ion battery, which is about twice as energy dense as a nickel-metal hydride battery. It means our new Toyota Prius can pack the same energetic punch, but give you more trunk space.

Lithium has problems, though.

Remember that day in chemistry class when your teacher dropped various metals into water, and you got to watch them light on fire or explode? Alkali metals are highly reactive, and to keep your cell phone battery from igniting, the lithium within is embedded in graphite. This makes everything safe, but limits electricity-storing capacity.

In theory, a magnesium-ion battery would be ideal. Magnesium is non-reactive, so the pure metal could be used, and magnesium is more electron-dense, too.

So why don't we use it? Why must you carry around an external battery so your Pokémon-catching isn't interrupted?

Every battery has three basic components, an anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte. We know magnesium would be a perfect anode, but thus-far an electrolyte has eluded scientific discovery... until now.

Last year, a team of Toyota Research Institute scientists were working on separate projects -- some on a magnesium battery, which could revolutionize the Toyota hybrid lineup, and some on hydrogen-containment materials for the Toyota Mirai fuel-cell vehicle. Principal scientist Rana Mohtadi realized her hydrogen-storage material had the exact properties needed by her colleagues for their missing electrolyte.

The published paper was titled An Efficient Halogen-Free Electrolyte for Use in Rechargeable Magnesium Batteries, and appears in Angewandte Chemie International Edition (Vol. 54, Issue 27).

At Toyota of Portsmouth, we're proud of Toyota Motor Corporation's incredible atmosphere of collaboration and discovery. Without bringing together diverse teams of scientists, working on a wide range of projects, this breakthrough would never have been possible.

We also hope that this same spirit of innovation reflects on our new inventory, which features cutting-edge technology, like automatic emergency braking systems, and the Entune® App Suite.

Categories: Green, News
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