Scientists from Stanford University are on the brink of making a major breakthrough in battery technology.
The team from Stanford has developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that not only withstand over 7,500 cycles, but also charges many times faster than a conventional lithium-ion battery. Reportedly, a smartphone-sized aluminum battery gets charged under a minute compared to hours with lithium-ion.
The battery consists of a negatively charged aluminum anode and a positively charged cathode. For the cathode, the team simply used graphite, which they claimed was discovered by chance as the best material that serve this purpose.
To demonstrate the effectiveness of the battery, the scientists placed the anode, cathode and an ionic liquid electrolyte (salt in liquid at room temp.) into a flexible polymer-coated pouch. The result was a battery that charges amazingly quickly and doesn’t catch fire as easily when punctured. In fact, the team said the battery continued to work for a while even when it is damaged.
“Lithium-ion batteries can be a fire hazard. In our study, we have videos showing that you can drill through the aluminum battery pouch, and it will continue working for a while without catching fire,” said Hongjie Dai, Professor of chemistry at Stanford. “But lithium batteries can go off in an unpredictable manner—in the air, the car or in your pocket. Besides safety, we have achieved major breakthroughs in aluminum battery performance.”
The biggest drawback at the moment for the aluminum battery is that it generates only about half the voltage of a typical lithium-ion battery. However, the team hopes that they can overcome this roadblock by developing a much more robust cathode that can increase the voltage and energy density.
Other than the lack of voltage, the scientists are confident that the battery technology they’ve developed is everything we have all been dreaming of.