Not just lithium, from Enea and Sapienza the project for calcium batteries

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The goal is to go beyond lithium. And build new batteries using calcium for applications in electric mobility and for energy storage in smart grids. A real challenge that looks ahead, in the name of energy transition. This project, called Actea, is being carried out by researchers from Enea together with those from Sapienza University of Rome.

«The objective is to go beyond lithium-ion technology – stated Laura Silvestri, researcher at the Energy Storage, Batteries and Technologies for the Production and Use of Hydrogen Laboratory of the Energy Technologies and Renewable Sources Department of Enea – because never before has it been more important to look at solutions aimed at the energy transition.”

The strong point of this study is the easy availability of calcium, compared to lithium, and the low production costs but with “increasingly higher standards of efficiency, sustainability and safety”. «Calcium-ion technology is still in the early stages of development – argues the researcher – and the objective is to contribute to a better understanding of its functioning even if, in principle, the underlying electrochemical processes are similar to those of lithium-ion batteries where, however, calcium replaces lithium in the role of shuttle, i.e. carrier of the electric charge”.

A change of pace compared to the past, given that the new methodology used in the project (which benefits from funding from the Lazio Region) focuses «on the development of processes and materials with a reduced environmental impact and on the use of very common elements : iron, silicon or titanium, and calcium.” And then, as another strong point, “the minimization of the use of toxic and critical raw materials such as, for example, cobalt and lithium”.

And, although the project is developing in an area that is still little “explored”, the advantages are still clear. «The use of calcium is a promising option for improving the energy densities of batteries while reducing production costs thanks to the low cost of the raw material and, above all, its abundance on the earth’s crust – adds the researcher -. Through the development of electrochemical calcium-ion storage technologies it will be possible to resolve the main critical issues related to supply, safety and production costs. Not only that: we will have an eco-sustainable alternative to lithium-ion systems, a mature storage technology that has almost reached the theoretical limit of its performance.”

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