Lithium batteries are the current market leading energy storage device for portable applications such as mobile phones, laptops and tablets. However, they have drawbacks including a propensity to short circuit and catch fire. Lithium is also a low abundance element within the earth’s crust; making a sustainable and large scale foray into the world of electric automobiles problematic. A promising alternative is magnesium, which has considerably greater abundance (making it concomitantly cheaper), greater energy storage capacity and is environmentally friendly (low toxicity). However, a number of challenges still need to be met to realize its potential. For example, magnesium must be paired with the correct partner that will allow it to successfully carry charge reversibly while not being reactive with other component parts of the battery. This project will systematically design, prepare and test the next generation of magnesium battery electrolytes. Focus will fall on pairing magnesium with aluminium (another cheap, abundant, non-toxic metal) but will move away from previously studied corrosive chlorides and reactive carbon based ligands in favour of small nitrogen centred ligands known as amides.
The development of these compounds will alleviate the corrosivity concern by eliminating chlorides completely. The combined complementary synthetic, compound architectural design and electrochemical expertise of the collaborative inter-university team will ensure a profound understanding of the active electrolytic species which in turn will enable expeditious progress, efficient result interpretation and expedient project refinement. Developments in this key area will be of high impact, for the good of Scottish and indeed global society.