Wayne State University and Rice University collaborate to test battery operations

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"Last year members of a Rice and Wayne State University team introduced an electrolyte made primarily of common bentonite clay that operated at 120 C. This year the team validated its hunch that h-BN would serve the purpose even better.

Rodrigues said batteries with the new electrolyte are geared more toward industrial and aerospace applications than cellphones. In particular, oil and gas companies require robust batteries to power sensors on wellheads. "They put a lot of sensors around drill bits, which experience extreme temperatures," he said. "It’s a real challenge to power these devices when they are thousands of feet downhole."

"At present, nonrechargeable batteries are heavily used for the majority of these applications, which pose practical limitations on changing batteries on each discharge and also for disposing their raw materials," said Rice alumnus and co-author Leela Mohana Reddy Arava, now an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Wayne State."