In a major breakthrough, Stanford University has invented the first high-performance aluminum-ion battery that is fast-charging, long-lasting, safer, inexpensive and may well revolutionize personal technology.
Hongjie Dai, a chemistry professor at Stanford, said, “We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames. Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.”
The aluminum-ion battery consists of two electrodes; a negatively charged anode made of aluminum and a positively charged graphite cathode along with an ionic liquid electrolyte, inside a flexible polymer-coated pouch.
Stanford graduate student, Ming Gong, added, “The electrolyte is basically a salt that’s liquid at room temperature, so it’s very safe. Lithium-ion batteries can be a fire hazard. In our study, we have videos showing that you can drill through the aluminium battery pouch, and it will continue working for a while longer without catching fire. Besides safety, we have achieved major breakthroughs in aluminum battery performance.”
This ultra-fast aluminum-ion battery can be charged in just one minute and it has a shelf life of around 7,500 charges; a typical lithium-ion battery lasts for around 1,000 charge cycles.
Aluminum-ion technology also offers an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable alkaline batteries. “Millions of consumers use 1.5-volt AA and AAA batteries. Our rechargeable aluminum battery generates about two volts of electricity. That’s higher than anyone has achieved with aluminum,” said Dai.
Aluminum is affordable, doesn’t catch fire easily and has a high-charge capacity, but the challenge is to find materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging.
“Our battery produces about half the voltage of a typical lithium battery. But improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage and energy density. Otherwise, our battery has everything else you’d dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility and long cycle life. I see this as a new battery in its early days. It’s quite exciting.” added Dai.