Cosmetic ingredient used for battery protection

Thursday, 23 November, 2023

Cosmetic ingredient used for battery protection

Xanthan gum, derived from plants like cabbage, serves as a natural protective barrier in cosmetics to retain their benefits on the skin. Now, researchers from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) have harnessed xanthan gum to create a protective shield for battery electrodes. Professor Changshin Jo from the graduate Institute of Ferrous & Eco Materials Technology and Jooyoung Jang, a PhD candidate from the Department of Chemical Engineering, crafted the protective film by blending polymers. This film reportedly enhances the durability of battery electrodes, with the research findings published in the journal Energy Storage Matters.

With renewable energy sources like solar power being inherently intermittent, the importance of energy storage systems (ESS) is growing. ESS technology enables the capture and efficient use of electricity when needed, making it vital for harnessing renewable energy. While lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries have been used for ESS applications, their high costs and concerns about lithium depletion have prompted research into alternative solutions.

A promising alternative to lithium is zinc (Zn); zinc-ion batteries have the capacity to store significant amounts of energy and are safer in terms of fire risks compared to Li-ion batteries. However, achieving a consistent deposition of zinc on the electrodes in ESS batteries can be challenging, and the repeated charging and discharging cycles tend to lead to the formation of twig-like crystals on the zinc surface, reducing the battery’s longevity.

The POSTECH researchers used biopolymer xanthan gum in combination with an ionically conductive polymer to develop a protective film for the battery electrode. The interaction between these two polymers yielded a smooth protective layer on the electrode’s surface, thereby shielding it from physical impacts and chemical contaminants. The protective film is rich in oxygen functional groups, which help facilitate the uniform nucleation of zinc, resulting in the efficient deposition of zinc on the electrode surface. Consequently, the formation of twig-like crystals on the zinc surface was mitigated, and the film demonstrated notable stability even after 200 days of repeated charging and discharging.

“I hope this research will contribute to the advancement of ESS technology for sustainable green energy production,” Jo said.

Image credit: Kosheleva

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