Did you know that a common toothpaste ingredient could soon have a revolutionary impact on the automotive industry and the environment? A group of researchers at the American institution Argonne National Laboratory has made a truly surprising discovery that starts from this seemingly unusual ingredient: sodium fluoride.
The sodium fluoride challenge: revolution in lithium batteries
As many of us know, sodium fluoride is widely used in toothpaste to prevent cavities. But what few would imagine is that scientists at Argonne have now studied and tested it to address one of the biggest challenges in the development of lithium metal batteries.
This advanced type of battery promises to revolutionize the range of electric vehicles due to a double energy density compared to current lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, its performance deteriorates very rapidly after a few dozen charge cycles. This happens because the liquid electrolyte used fails to create a sufficiently robust and durable protective layer on the porous lithium metal anode.
This is where sodium fluoride comes into play. Through highly sophisticated simulations carried out on Argonne’s supercomputer, the team has discovered that by precisely adding certain amounts of this compound to the electrolyte, fluoride cations firmly bond to the electrodes, immediately creating an additional, thick, and compact protective layer.
Advanced microscopy has then shown that this layer would manage to maintain integrity and functionality even after hundreds of cycles! The result is that lithium metal batteries formulated in this way could finally reach their vast potential. Not only unprecedented ranges for electric cars but perhaps even for heavy vehicles or electric aircraft.
A groundbreaking revolution made possible by an ingredient we all have in the bathroom.