The battery team has been working on their technical report writing skills, and growing their knowledge with weekly lessons and ample literature research. Members of our team have been focusing on specific batteries.
Arshan and Maria focused on the Magnesium-Air Battery and prepared a technical report while continuing our research on finding alternative batteries. The Mg-Air battery shows great promise with high theoretical voltage output and minimal side products. However, it had issues with anode corrosion. Through literature research, we were able to find solutions to these issues. We are considering using Mg alloys as electrodes or experimenting with using transition metal additives and different types of salts for saline electrolytes. These substitutions may result in decreased corrosion rates and a higher open cell voltage. Due to the pandemic, we are currently unable to test the effect of such alterations to the battery. However, once tested, the Mg-Air battery can be a good option for use in the competition.
Figure 1: Assembly of a single Mg-Air cell.
Wyatt and Estefano researched the Lithium Iron Phosphate battery. This type of battery boasts chemical stability, and an ample voltage produced by each cell. Some disadvantages of this type of battery include a lower conductivity, and potential dendrite formation that can poison the cell. The conductivity can be increased by doping the electrolyte with Dimethyl-Carbonate and Ethylene-Carbonate. Due to the lack of available information about the assembly of Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries, we don’t recommend this battery for ChemECar this year. However, in the years to come, as more information becomes readily available, we believe this battery should be heavily considered for competition!
Figure 2: Anatomy of the LiFePO₄ battery stack.
Emma and Harshit investigated the Zinc/Copper battery and completed a technical report for this battery. The Zinc/Copper battery is very economical and promising, as it only requires cheap materials, such as Copper foil, Zinc foil, cardboard, and Potassium Hydroxide, and each cell can theoretically produce the optimal voltage of 1.2 V. Once the pandemic is under control, we hope to re-enter the lab to test this easy-to-assemble battery, and to experiment with different filter materials, sizes, and concentrations in order to optimize the battery’s performance for competitions. We are currently researching more novel battery ideas, and are considering looking into a safe design for a Hydrogen fuel cell that can be used in competitions.
Figure 3: Assembly of a single stack of a Zinc/Copper.