Magnesium batteries offer greater storage capacity, says US team

Researchers at the University of Houston say they have developed a new design for the cathode in magnesium batteries. The move is said to increase storage capacity ‘drastically’.

“We are combining a nanostructured cathode and a new understanding of the magnesium electrolyte,” said associate professor Yan Yao. “That’s new.”

In the new approach, the battery stores energy by inserting magnesium monochloride into a host, such as titanium disulphide. By retaining the magnesium-chloride bond, said Yao, the cathode demonstrated much faster diffusion than traditional magnesium versions.

According to the team, the battery has a capacity of 400mAh/g, compared with 100 mAh/g for earlier magnesium batteries. This compares with the 200mAh/g stored by commercial lithium ion batteries.

"We hope this is a general strategy," said researcher Hyun Deog Yoo. "We aim to create higher-energy batteries at a lower price, especially for electric vehicles."

However, the new battery operates at about 1V, while lithium batteries operat at 3 to 4V.