Aluminium batteries have been in the news recently as a viable challenger to lithium-ion cells. Researchers from Stanford University have created a fast-charging, inexpensive, long-lasting and flexible aluminium battery.
The researchers cite the cost of lithium-ion batteries as a barrier to entry into the automotive market, which is where cheap aluminium comes in. Aluminium has long been an attractive material for batteries, mainly because of its low cost, low flammability and high-charge storage capacity. For a long time, researchers have tried unsuccessfully to develop a commercially viable aluminium-ion battery. A key challenge has been finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging.
The prototype battery developed at Stanford has a discharge voltage of about 2V and an energy capacity similar to lead acid and nickel-metal hydride batteries. It is also reported to have lost little of its storage capacity after 7,000 cycles compared to lithium batteries, which only last for about 1,000 cycles. Researchers also say the battery can be completely recharged in less than 60 seconds.
These attributes may lead to future applications in small electronic devices, but aluminium batteries could also be used to store renewable energy on the electrical grid, which requires a battery with a long cycle life.
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The research “An ultrafast rechargeable aluminum-ion battery,” has been published recently in the journal Nature.
Tamara Alliot, MMTA