Toyota research points to magnesium as safer, smart battery

Toyota research points to magnesium as safer, smart battery image

Eric Tipan / | May 10, 2016 14:26

Magnesium is safer and more energy-dense than lithium-ion

As helpful as mobile devices, tablets, watches and various other gadgets are to our daily lives, their usefulness is still contingent on the capacity of their internal batteries.

Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRINA) is working double-time in order to change that and they may have already uncovered a tremendous breakthrough.

New research by TRINA has shown that magnesium batteries may become improve the use of everything mobile and wearable device including vehicles that require the use of batteries.

The idea of using magnesium metal for batteries isn’t really anything new. Theory has it that it is ‘safer and more energy-dense than lithium-ion battery technology.

lithium-ion battery technology

When exposed to air, lithium metal can become unstable and ignite as evidenced by certain cases involving exploding mobile devices. To makes its use safer, ions are removed from the lithium metal and embedded into graphite rods. This method removes a huge amount of metal, which limits the amount of power the battery can store.

Magnesium, on the other hand, is very stable although the previous lack of magnesium-friendly electrolyte has prevented research from going any further.

Recently, Toyota principal scientist and chemical engineer Rana Mohtadi. Mohtadi implemented her study of hydrogen storage for fuel cell technology on the development of an electrolyte for magnesium battery and after extensive experimentation was successful.

"We were able to take a material that was only used in hydrogen storage and we made it practical and very competitive for magnesium battery chemistry," said Mohtadi.

"The results really speak to the strength in our group. We try to put people from diverse backgrounds and diverse technologies together and allow them to collaborate. This is a great example of that working very successfully," said Energy Storage Group Manager Paul Fanson.

As promising as it all sounds, magnesium battery technology is at least 20 years away from getting approval for consumer use. There is plenty more research and development that needs to be done in order to ensure its safety and reliability.