Researchers of the American University of Standford have developed a cheap battery using aluminium instead of lithium which can be charged very fast. According to the researchers their aluminium-ion battery can serve as an alternative to the currently widely used lithium-ion batteries in electric cars, smartphones and other electronics.
The new design with an anode of aluminium and a cathode of graphite can be fully charged within one minute. When the battery becomes commercially available it could have a big impact on the range of electric cars as they can be rapidly charged.
According to the researchers, who published their findings in the scientific magazine Nature, the aluminium-ion battery will also have a longer lifespan. It should be possible to charge it up to 7,500 times without losing capacity. Current lithium-ion batteries start losing capacity after about 1,000 charges.
Using aluminium should reduce the risk of overheating and fires, lithium-ion batteries can catch fire when they’re damaged. The scientists hope to increase the voltage of the aluminium battery, in the current design the battery generates about 2 volts, comparable to a AA or AAA battery. Lithium batteries usual generate voltages that are 2 to 6 times higher.
Increasing the voltage of the aluminium battery can likely be achieved by improving the cathode, the positive electrode. “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”, research leader Hongjie Dai states, “I see this as a new battery in its early days. It’s quite exciting.”