Lithium or Magnesium?

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Recently some researchers move to Mg batteries. Pellion Tech in its white paper claims double energy density both in volumetric and gravimetric for Mg batteries.

I am confused since it seems that the discharge voltage should be at least 3V and no cell have been reported working experimentally at such potential yet (Maybe I did not find).

Moreover, the safety issues will not come for Mg batteries with magnesium anodes? and for Mg-ion batteries, the energy density would be competitive with current Li-ion batteries?

Does the main opportunity for Mg batteries lie in their cathodes same as Lithium batteries?

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  1. Tylan Watkins

    August 27, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    What do you mean by “Pellion’s White Paper?” Perhaps you are referring to a statement they have made saying Mg batteries could theoretically double the energy density with respect to current Li-ion technologies. If so, this is true.

    It is true that the higher the discharge voltage, the better; assuming no other property is hindered by this increase. I think you are correct that no cathode working at 3V or above vs. Mg has been reported with magnesium electrolytes to date. However, a 3V or higher cathode is not necessarily required for a competitive energy density. A high capacity cathode working at a lower voltage (such as sulfur) can also be used as a means of increasing the total chemical energy stored.

    With regards to safety, research has suggested that Mg does not deposit dendrite growths as does Li. The dendrites are thought to be the main phenomenon causing much of the failures in Li and Li-ion batteries, sometimes in a very dangerous way.

    I think you are correct that the energy density of Mg-ion batteries would in fact be in line with Li-ion batteries. The benefit for going with Mg-ion electrodes could be a financial one as Mg is a more abundant and cheaper resource than Li.

    Ultimately, to answer your last question, yes, a lot of the challenge in creating a competitive Mg battery is in the cathode. However, finding an appropriate Mg electrolyte that suits an already established cathode appears to be just as challenging. Such an electrolyte must be compatible with both the anode and cathode chemistry, something no electrolyte has yet to manage in any truly competitive way.

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