Stanford University researchers make battery that is super powerful and “won’t catch fire”
Researchers at Stanford University said they have invented a battery that could charge a smartphone in one minute.
The battery, made out of aluminium, could one day replace the common lithium batteries found in today’s consumer electronics. The scientists behind the battery said that it has “unprecedented charging times”, and is also less likely to catch on fire than lithium-ion batteries.
“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,” said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford. “Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.”
The researchers say aluminium has been an attractive material to create batteries with for a long time, because they would be cheap to produce and offer a high charge capacity. However efforts to make them commercially vialble have been scuppered by difficulties in finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging.
Dai said: “People have tried different kinds of materials for the cathode. We accidentally discovered that a simple solution is to use graphite, which is basically carbon. In our study, we identified a few types of graphite material that give us very good performance.”
The Stanford team reported “unprecedented charging times” when testing the battery on smartphones, with times getting down to one minute.
“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.”
Aluminum-ion technology also offers an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable alkaline batteries.
“Millions of consumers use 1.5-volt AA and AAA batteries,” he said. “Our rechargeable aluminum battery generates about two volts of electricity. That’s higher than anyone has achieved with aluminum.”
However, the researchers said that more improvements will be needed to match the voltage of lithium-ion batteries before the aluminium batteries can become a consumer product.