Volcanoes can be the most destructive but awe-inspiring phenomenon on Earth. But their fiery fissures could do more than just to destroy. So, what if naturally occurring substances produced by them could change the batteries of the future?
The newly discovered mineral called Petrovite Na10CaCu2(SO4)8, looks like bluish globular aggregates of crystals with gaseous inclusions. For many years, Stanislav Filatov has been searching for new minerals, during which time, they have focused on the mineral composition of post-eruption volcanoes.
Where Is It Found?
It became abundant in Tolbachik Volcano after two major eruptions occurred in 1975-1976 and 2012-2013. The force of eruptions during the first one caused the rocky terrain to break up, exposing fumarole deposits and unknown minerals never seen before. In total, the volcano lay claim to 130 type locality minerals, among these included Petrovite, a shiny blue mineral of tabular crystals.
It was first discovered in 2000 near the place associated with the 1975 eruption and was stored for future analysis. It may have been a long time, but now we’re starting to realize its huge potential in the development of future batteries.
Filatov further commented that their biggest problem at the moment is the small amount of copper found in its crystal structure. However, he believed that synthesizing the compound with the same structure as the mineral in the lab might solve the issue.
Although recent discoveries by crystallographers and mineralogists are associated with the Kamchatka Peninsula, it’s not only the place to discover new, unusual stuff. Among the discoveries in 2008-2017 came from the Yakutia, the Kola Peninsula, South Africa, Jordan, Tanzania, Greece, Israel, and many other locations.
What’s Petrovite Made Of?
The newly-discovered Petrovite resembles the mineral called saranquinite, which was also discovered in Tolbachik a few years back. Petrovite consists of sodium sulphur, oxygen atoms, and copper. The voids are connected by channels where the sodium atoms can freely move. Its chemical composition was determined by Svetlana Moskaleva, an associate researcher of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Scientists have found out that the structure of Petrovite promises iconic conductivity and can be used for sodium-ion batteries because of its material. Sodium-ion battery can be a promising alternative for energy storage systems because it’s cheap and abundant in the Earth’s crust.
According to Professor Filatov, the copper atom in Petrovite has an unusual arrangement of seven oxygen (O2) atoms. It’s so rare that only a few compounds have it, such as saranquinite.
The study of this mineral can be found in Mineralogical Magazine. According to the paper, the name ‘Petrovite’ came from Dr. Tomas Georgievich Petrov, who brought many contributions to the field of crystallography and mineralogy. He was also responsible for the technology behind processing the jewelry malachite.