UMD scientists invent new water-based battery that won’t catch fire

April 16, 2018 by  
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Researchers at the University of Maryland have invented a new  water -based zinc battery that is safer than a traditional lithium-ion battery, but which doesn’t sacrifice power or usability. The team utilized elements of older zinc battery technology with novel water-in- salt electrolytes to create a battery that is not prone to catching fire. “Water-based batteries could be crucial to preventing fires in electronics, but their energy storage and capacity have been limited – until now,” said study first author Fei Wang in a statement . “For the first time, we have a battery that could compete with the lithium-ion batteries in energy density, but without the risk of explosion or fire.” Their work was recently published in the journal Nature Materials . One of the new battery ‘s improvements over traditional batteries is its ability to overcome irreversibility, the phenomenon in which the charge delivered by the battery at its intended voltage decreases with usage, through a technique that changes the structure of the positively charged zinc ions within the battery. In addition to the battery’s application in consumer goods, it also could prove invaluable in extreme conditions such as the deep  ocean or outer space. Related: California’s desert battery could be three times the size of Tesla’s The saline aqueous nature of the zinc battery eliminates the need to replace evaporated water within the battery, a key challenge of traditional zinc batteries. “Existing zinc batteries are safe and relatively inexpensive to produce, but they aren’t perfect due to poor cycle life and low energy density,” said study co-author Chunsheng Wang in a statement . “We overcome these challenges by using a water-in-salt electrolyte.” The researchers believe that their invention and related discoveries could be applicable to a wide variety of energy technologies. “The significant discovery made in this work has touched the core problem of aqueous zinc batteries,” said study co-author Kang Xu in a statement , “and could impact other aqueous or non-aqueous multivalence cation chemistries that face similar challenges, such as magnesium and aluminum batteries.” + Nature Materials Via  TechXplore Images via John T. Consoli/University of Maryland

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UMD scientists invent new water-based battery that won’t catch fire

North American climate boundary pushed 140 miles eastward by climate change

April 16, 2018 by  
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A historic climate boundary which marks the division between the humid eastern region of North America and the more arid western region has deviated 140 miles to the east of its original location — thanks to climate change . In a study recently published in  Earth Interactions ,  scientists identified three factors that contribute to the formation of the visible division between North American climatic zones: the Rocky Mountains’ ability to disrupt moisture from reaching inland, Atlantic winter storms and summertime humidity that rises northeast from the Gulf of Mexico. In the recent study, lead author and climate scientist Richard Seager of Columbia University sought to explore the boundary — and its history — as a prominent example of “ psychogeography ,” or the relationship between environmental conditions and human decision making. The climate boundary line that runs along the 100th meridian west was first marked in the late 19th century by  geologist and explorer John Wesley Powell. “Powell talked eloquently about the 100th meridian, and this concept of a boundary line has stayed with us down to the current day,” Seager said in a statement . “We wanted to ask whether there really is such a divide, and whether it’s influenced human settlement.” Related: The Gulf Stream is the weakest it’s been in 1,600 years – here’s why that’s really bad news The 100th meridian climate boundary has affected historic development in the United States. Eastern lands have greater population density and infrastructure, and agriculture is dominated by corn , a moisture-loving plant. To the west of the divide, agriculture is dependent on larger farms with crops — such as wheat  — that flourish in arid regions, and urban development is generally more scarce. As climate change affects the historic rainfall and temperature trends of the region, the study predicts that human development will also adapt, with eastern farms adopting characteristics of those historically found west of the boundary line. “Unless farmers turn to irrigation or otherwise adapt, they will have to turn from corn to wheat or some other more suitable crop,” said Columbia University in a statement . “Large expanses of cropland may fail altogether, and have to be converted to western-style grazing range. Water supplies could become a problem for urban areas.” Via Yale Environment 360 Images via  Seager Et Al. and Depositphotos

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North American climate boundary pushed 140 miles eastward by climate change

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