Energy & Green Tech

Making materials for the next generation of electric car batteries

As drivers around the world switch to electric cars, new batteries that can store more energy, translating to longer driving distances before a car needs recharging, can't come soon enough. But researchers at NTNU have discovered ...

Energy & Green Tech

A next-generation aqueous electrolyte

A team of chemists at the University of Maryland has developed a next-generation aqueous electrolyte to reduce reliance on organic lithium-ion batteries. In their paper published in the journal Nature Energy, the group describes ...

Energy & Green Tech

Revealing thermal runaway routes in lithium-sulfur batteries

Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries offer great potential for use in energy storage systems because of their large energy capacity. However, safety problems related to their thermal behavior continue to be a concern for scientists.

Energy & Green Tech

Safer, more powerful batteries for electric cars, power grid

Solid-state batteries, currently used in small electronic devices like smart watches, have the potential to be safer and more powerful than lithium-ion batteries for things such as electric cars and storing energy from solar ...

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In chemistry, an electrolyte is any substance containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive. The most typical electrolyte is an ionic solution, but molten electrolytes and solid electrolytes are also possible.

Commonly, electrolytes are solutions of acids, bases or salts. Furthermore, some gases may act as electrolytes under conditions of high temperature or low pressure. Electrolyte solutions can also result from the dissolution of some biological (e.g., DNA, polypeptides) and synthetic polymers (e.g., polystyrene sulfonate), termed polyelectrolytes, which contain charged functional groups.

Electrolyte solutions are normally formed when a salt is placed into a solvent such as water and the individual components dissociate due to the thermodynamic interactions between solvent and solute molecules, in a process called solvation. For example, when table salt, NaCl, is placed in water, the salt (a solid) dissolves into its component ions, according to the dissociation reaction

It is also possible for substances to react with water producing ions, e.g., carbon dioxide gas dissolves in water to produce a solution which contains hydronium, carbonate, and hydrogen carbonate ions.

Note that molten salts can be electrolytes as well. For instance, when sodium chloride is molten, the liquid conducts electricity.

An electrolyte in a solution may be described as concentrated if it has a high concentration of ions, or dilute if it has a low concentration. If a high proportion of the solute dissociates to form free ions, the electrolyte is strong; if most of the solute does not dissociate, the electrolyte is weak. The properties of electrolytes may be exploited using electrolysis to extract constituent elements and compounds contained within the solution.

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