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Molten Electrolyte Rechargeable Air Battery

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Prof Stuart Licht, PhD
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Jerry Comanescu
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Researchers at The George Washington University have developed a new class of battery, which uses a molten electrolyte, and has amongst the highest intrinsic electric energy storage capacities, of any class of batteries and is rechargeable.  In the past, researchers were able to produce very high capacity batteries (e.g. VB2 batteries) lacking recharge capabilities or rechargeable molten sulfur batteries with limited capacity.

The rechargeable molten cathode uses oxygen directly from the air, (an unlimited capacity) to yield a high battery capacity. The molten electrode and molten electrolyte are compatible with multiple anodes.  Researchers have demonstrated results with iron, carbon, and vanadium boride (VB2) with respective intrinsic volumetric energy capacities shown in the table attached, ranging from 10,000 to 27,000 Wh/liter.  These capacities compare favorably with lithium air battery (6,200 Wh/liter), due to the latter’s single electron transfer and low density. 

Although high operating temperature is a limitation for this type of batteries, the inventors were able to successfully lower the temperature of molten electrolytes of the battery to ~700°C, which will enable broader application of the battery. Further optimization of temperature, current density, electrolyte composition and cell configuration will enable an even broader application of this class of batteries in the future.