Stanford University researchers have developed the first commercially viable aluminum-ion battery. Previous attempts at creating aluminum-ion batteries have struggled with finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging. The researchers say they accidentally discovered that graphite is an ideal material for the cathode of an aluminum battery. To create the battery, they placed an aluminum anode and graphite cathode, along with an ionic liquid electrolyte, inside a flexible polymer-coated pouch. The resulting battery performed well enough to possibly replace the batteries that are used in electronic devices. The Stanford team also suggests that the technology could be leveraged to store renewable energy on the electrical power grid. There are six major benefits:
- Safe: The new battery is nonflammable and safer than lithium-ion batteries, which can burst into flames.
- Environmentally-friendly: It is safer for the environment than alkaline batteries.
- Flexible: The battery has great potential for use in flexible electronics because it can be bent or folded.
- Fast Charging: It charges in just one minute
- Long Lasting: The aluminum battery can withstand more than 7,500 cycles without any loss of capacity, which is much better than a typical lithium-ion battery, which lasts about 1,000 cycles.
- Inexpensive: Aluminum and graphite are relatively cheap materials.
With so many advantages, Stanford’s aluminum-ion battery is almost perfect. However, there is one important disadvantage to overcome. While it is more powerful than typical alkaline batteries, it only produces half the voltage of typical lithium batteries. The researchers emphasize that the battery is still in early prototype stages, and they are optimistic about future iterations. “Improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage and energy density,” said author Hongjie Dai. “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.”