Electrolyte Evaluation for Use in Green Batteries

Open Access
Steiner, Jonathan Michael
Area of Honors:
Engineering Science
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Barbara Shaw, Thesis Supervisor
  • Sulin Zhang, Honors Advisor
  • Elzbieta Sikora, Faculty Reader
  • Judith A Todd, Faculty Reader
  • green batteries
  • electrolyte
  • solution
  • environmentally friendly
  • voltage discharge
  • discharge experiments
  • corrosion
  • power
“Green” battery research is becoming more important as the push socially, militarily and governmentally for less environmental impact increases. It is important to develop a (reserve) battery that has the same capability as current battery technologies but is made from materials that are nontoxic and biodegradable. Along with those parameters (and an emphasis on military applications) the battery materials must also be lightweight, readily available and simple to use. The three major aspects of a battery that need to be developed are the cathode material, the anode material and the electrolyte. In Dr. Barbara Shaw’s corrosion lab in 401 EES building, research had been started for both the anode and cathode materials. This thesis hopes to determine the electrolyte that is best suited to aid in increasing the production of power from the chemical interaction (oxidation/ reduction reaction) that occurs between the anode and cathode. After selecting the basic materials of AZ91 to use as an anode and pyrolytic graphite to use as a cathode, electrolyte evaluation began. Preliminary results found by using the electrolytes of artificial seawater (ASW), Hank’s Buffered Salt solution (Hank’s solution) and 1M NaCl solution (which had previously been employed during anode and cathode research) were evaluated and a more extensive list of electrolytes could be found for further investigation. The list of electrolytes included tap water, ASW, Hank’s solution, various molarities of NaCl, MgCl2, and table salt solutions along with the commercial products Pepto Bismol, Tums tablets dissolved in DI water, and Pepsi. After evaluating the various electrolytes using a discharge experiment, the average voltage discharge capabilities were determined for each electrolyte. Solutions containing NaCl, in particular the saturated NaCl solution, were the electrolytes that provided the most consistent, constant and largest voltage discharge. The saturated NaCl solution was then evaluated using further experiments such as the addition of aeration and an extended discharge timeframe.