Researchers have recently discovered a way to make an efficient battery out of zinc — an inexpensive, commonly found metal — instead of the rare metals used in lithium batteries.

Most rechargeable batteries today are lithium-ion batteries, which include other metals like cobalt and nickel, Tech Xplore reports. As electric vehicles (EVs) and large-scale energy storage get more common, we’ll need more and more of those metals — but because they’re uncommon, the costs are often massive.

Many researchers are working on cheaper battery options to reduce or replace these metals. One Chinese company has created a car powered by a sodium battery, and a University of Maryland researcher has invented a partly biodegradable battery made of zinc and crab shells. Researchers have even found not one but two ways to store energy in ordinary sand.

According to Tech Xplore, this new project, led by Xiulei “David” Ji of Oregon State University, offers yet another alternative to lithium-ion batteries: accessible, efficient zinc metal batteries.

The secret is a new electrolyte developed by Ji and his team, Tech Xplore explains. A battery electrolyte is a liquid inside the battery that helps aid the chemical reactions to store and release energy.

To read more, click on MSN