St. Petersburg scientists are ready to synthesize an extraterrestrial mineral
Based on it, a new type of battery surpassing modern lithium-ion batteries both in terms of lifespan and efficiency will be delivered.
On Thursday, July 30, it became known that a group of scientists representing several universities of St. Petersburg had discovered a new mineral 'xenophyllite'. A discovery occurred while studying the Avgustinovka meteorite, named after the village next to which it was found in 1890. Since then, an iron stone of more than 400 kg in weight has been stored in the Mining Museum. Yet until now, it has not been thoroughly examined.
The interest of the scientific community comes from the need to find new ultra-strong materials that are in high demand in space and defence industries, mechanical engineering, and some other sectors. After all, as is known, one of the world's most durable elements - lonsdaleite - occurs in nature in meteorite craters. But back in the last century, scientists learned how to synthesise it from graphite under the impact of colossal pressure.
The study of Augustinovka led to a stunning result, as through research, a previously unknown mineral was found: xenophyllite, chemical formula Na4Fe7(PO4)6. It also turned out that a new find can lead to a revolution in the battery industry. If scientists succeed to synthesise a new mineral in a laboratory environment, a new generation of faster and more stable sodium-ion conductors will emerge. This new version will thereby replace currently used lithium-ion batteries, in the same way as several decades ago modern batteries replaced alkaline ones.
"The growing demand for expensive lithium batteries is urging to search for alternative cheaper materials with which we can provide the power of the new type that meets modern industrial needs. If we manage to synthesise xenophyllite, we will thus move closer to the new era of sodium-ion accumulators," says Edita Obolonskaya, Curator of the Meteorite Collection at the Mining Museum, also a member of the scientific group.
By the way, according to the provincial census of 1925, the village of Avgustinovka-Smolshcha yielded in numerous long-livers. It is the area where clay workers found the meteorite. Moreover, the results of the medical examination show that aged men living in the village had an active libido up to 100 years old.