Could MRI scans prove the key to developing new battery tech?

The University of Birmingham says the technology will enable faster evaluation of new battery materials and help accelerate commercialisation

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Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can provide an effective way of supporting the development of the next generation of high-performance rechargeable batteries.

That’s according to research led by the University of Birmingham, which says a technique developed to detect the movement and deposition of sodium metal ions within a sodium battery will enable faster evaluation of new battery materials and help accelerate commercialisation.

It suggests sodium batteries are widely recognised as a promising alternative to lithium-ion batteries but notes there are challenges in optimising performance and understanding how the sodium behaves inside the battery as it goes through its charging and discharging cycle.

Dr Melanie Britton in the University of Birmingham’s School of Chemistry said: “Because the battery is a sealed cell, when it goes wrong it can be hard to see what the fault is.

“Taking the battery apart introduces internal changes that make it hard to see what the original flaw was or where it occurred. But using the MRI technique we’ve developed, we can actually see what’s going on inside the battery while it is operational, giving us unprecedented insights into how the sodium behaves.”

The team said this process can offer insights into how to manufacture longer-lasting and higher-performing batteries.

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