An aluminum-ion battery might not only provide repeated and super-fast -- as little as one minute -- charging but could eliminate the fire hazards associated with the lithium-ion batteries typically used in today's cellphones and other devices, according to researchers from Stanford University. Writing in this week's online edition of the journal Nature, the Stanford research team added that their technology is also flexible and inexpensive.
Aluminum has long been studied as a potential material for batteries because of its relatively low cost and high capacity for storing an electrical charge. However, the greatest drawback until now has been that most aluminum-ion battery designs lasted for only 100 or so charge-discharge cycles.
A standard lithium-ion battery, on the other hand, can support about 1,000 charges before it needs to be replaced. One big disadvantage of such batteries, however, is that they are flammable. In fact, both United and Delta have recently banned the bulk shipment of lithium-ion batteries on passenger planes because of the potential fire hazards.
7,500 Charge Cycles
By contrast, "Our new battery won't catch fire, even if you drill through it," said Hongjie Dai, a Stanford chemistry professor and one of the authors of the research report. He added that his team's aluminum-ion battery could also be a better replacement for today's alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment.
The new battery design uses aluminum for the negatively charged anode and graphite -- which is basically carbon -- for the cathode, Dai said. The research team found a few different types of graphite that provided very good performance, he added.
The experimental battery was made by placing the anode and cathode, along with an ionic liquid electrolyte, into a flexible, polymer-coated pouch. That design could also enable other uses, according to Ming Gong, a Stanford graduate student who is a co-lead author of the study.
"You can bend it and fold it, so it has the potential for use in flexible electronic devices," Gong said.
In addition to being inexpensive and fast-charging, the team's aluminum-ion battery also has been able to far outlast previous designs, supporting more than 7,500 charge-discharge cycles without losing capacity.
'Praiseworthy' and 'Huge'
We reached out to Donald Sadoway, a professor of materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to learn what he thought about the Stanford team's battery design. Sadoway is a leading researcher in environmentally friendly battery technologies and was named one of Time magazine's 100 most influential people in 2012.
"The work is praiseworthy for its focus on something other than lithium," Sadoway told us. "It's early stage and so the detractors will judge it harshly. I don't. They have shown that it is possible to cycle aluminum ions in a rechargeable battery. That's huge."
Sadoway added that the Stanford research is focused on batteries for portable power, while his own work on liquid metal batteries concentrates on better technologies for stationary energy storage. The technology is very different, but also complementary, he said.
Posted: 2015-06-01 @ 8:27am PT
Isn't this exactly how supercaps are made? What is the difference?
Posted: 2015-05-28 @ 10:35am PT
I want to buy stock in this company.
Posted: 2015-04-10 @ 3:20am PT
If this product were able to replace batteries in existing products, the makers stand to make a fortune and the world would be a better place.
Posted: 2015-04-07 @ 4:36pm PT
Excellent news on batteries. The reason: who ever has the best battery will rule the world