Today you can find lithium-ion batteries in smartphones, tablets, laptops, electric cars, and nearly all the electronics around you. But while ubiquitous, the lithium battery is facing several challenges. There’s the limited physical nature of lithium’s output but also the environmental havoc its extraction leaves on the surrounding areas.

That’s why scientists around the globe are continuously looking for new, more optimal alternatives out of which to manufacture our batteries. The most recent breakthrough in this quest involves a newly-synthesized calcium-based chemical which might be safer and cheaper than today’s lithium ones. While calcium has been considered before as a base for batteries, researchers have lacked a suitable electrolyte – the medium through which electrical charge flows inside a battery.

Now scientists in Germany have managed to find the missing piece by trying a new approach. The team of researchers reacted a calcium compound with a fluorine-containing compound to create a new type of calcium salt. The resulting material conducted electricity more effectively than any calcium-based electrolyte yet reported. It also efficiently conducted ions at a higher voltage than other calcium-based electrolytes. The new type of batteries could be used in industrial-scale systems to store wind and solar energy.