I’m going to spread some crazy truth on you that the shady, cigar-chomping aristocrats of the lithium cell industry (aka Big Battery) don’t want you to know. I hope you’re sitting down for this… potassium can be used with graphite to create a potassium-ion battery. Why are you just staring at me like you’re waiting for the other shoe to drop? That was it. No, I swear, it’s a bombshell.
Okay, I’ll pardon the lack of excitement on your part and explain. You’ve probably heard of lithium-ion batteries, since they pretty much power everything you touch all day long. Well, for the last (more than) three-quarters of a century, scientists have been laboring under the false apprehension that it was pretty much their only option, and that potassium, much cheaper and more plentiful than lithium, would never work. That is, until Xiulei Ji, assistant professor of chemistry at OSU, bothered to test that theory.
“For decades, people have assumed that potassium couldn’t work with graphite or other bulk carbon anodes in a battery. That assumption is incorrect. It’s really shocking that no one ever reported on this issue for 83 years,” said Ji in a press release.
Potassium is nearly 900 times more abundant on planet Earth than lithium, so you can imagine the possibilities, despite potassium’s lower energy density.
“The cost-related problems with lithium are sufficient that you won’t really gain much with economies of scale,” Ji said in the press release. “With most products, as you make more of them, the cost goes down. With lithium the reverse may be true in the near future. So we have to find alternatives.”
Next industry to be revolutionized by OSU research: soap. There’s just got to be some way to make it not make me cry when it gets in my eyes in the shower…
By Sidney Reilly