- The device could be a commercial alternative to the alkaline batteries and lithium-ion batteries used in portable electronic devices.
- The high-performance battery is long lasting and non-flammable.
Researchers are racing to develop batteries we can use to charge our mobile devices faster than ever before. Last December we published a significant step forward in this respect, achieved by researchers from the University of Nanyang: the lithium-ion batteries with titanium dioxide gel for the anode which charges to 70% in two minutes. Now, a team from Stanford University has designed a high performance, long-lasting aluminium-ion battery that can recharge a mobile phone in just one minute.
Previous experiments with aluminium-ion batteries had produced prototypes that didn’t produce a high enough voltage, particularly after repeated cycles of charging and discharging. The prototype developed by the researchers at Stanford has overcome this stumbling block by combining an aluminium anode with a graphite cathode. The work was published on 8th April in Nature magazine under the title An ultrafast rechargeable aluminium-ion battery.
Video uploaded by the Stanford researchers in which they explain the developed prototype.
The characteristics of the materials used in this new device resolve some important inconveniences presented by both alkaline batteries (harmful to the environment) and many of the lithium-ion batteries, which we currently use in our computers, tablets and mobiles. As well as withstanding up to 7,500 charge cycles compared with the present standard of 1,000 (and without losing storage capacity), the aluminium anode makes it much safer as it prevents the risk of catching fire, even when perforated. Moreover, as it can be folded, it can be adapted to the new generation of flexible devices.
Although the aluminium battery is at an experimental stage, all the signs seem to indicate that its commercialisation is viable given that, aside from the characteristics mentioned above, the production cost will be much lower. The challenge the researchers still face is increasing its voltage: the prototype generates around two volts of electricity: a higher voltage than the 1.5 of alkaline batteries, but lower than the 4 volts afforded by the lithium batteries. However, the Stanford research team’s head chemist, Hongjie Dai, has stated that, “Improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage and energy density.” When they achieve this, we will have safe, ultra-fast-charging, long-lasting batteries that are flexible, environmentally friendly and inexpensive, and which could also be used to store and supply electricity on large power grids.