Aluminium-ion battery could revolutionise energy storage

Stanford University has developed a new fast-charging aluminium-ion battery that could be a legitimate option for grid-level storage of renewable energy.

The study's authors foresee the battery replacing the widely used lithium-ion batteries in mobiles and laptops, it also provides an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable alkaline batteries

The study's authors foresee the battery replacing the widely used lithium-ion batteries in mobiles and laptops, it also provides an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable alkaline batteries

The key feature of the aluminium-ion battery is its durability, making it a potential solution to the problem of how to store renewable energy on electrical grids.

The battery is able to be charged 7,500 times without losing capacity, compared to a typical lithium-ion battery which can be charged 1,000.

"This was the first time an ultra-fast aluminum-ion battery was constructed with stability over thousands of cycles," Stanford University professor Hongjie Dai said: "The grid needs a battery with a long cycle life that can rapidly store and release energy.

Last month's sollar eclipse highlighted the importance of energy storage to the continued growth of solar; the eclipse removed 35GW of solar power from the European grid - equivalent to 80 conventional power plants.

Revenue from the growing sector is expected to reach £21bn by 2024 - 35 times its current level.

Quick-charge

Aluminium has been an attractive material for batteries for some time because it is cheap, very safe and has a high-charge storage capacity.

And the new battery incorporates graphite to solve the longstanding problem of finding a material capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging.

The study's authors foresee the battery replacing the widely used lithium-ion batteries in mobiles and laptops due to its ability to be charged in one minute. It also provides an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable alkaline batteries.

"Millions of consumers use 1.5-volt AA and AAA batteries," Dai added: "Our rechargeable aluminum battery generates about two volts of electricity. That's higher than anyone has achieved with aluminum."

"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."

In related news, Europe a new research and development project is attempting to transform food waste into graphitic carbon to be turned into graphene. Graphene technology both stores and maximises the power in smartphones. 

Innovation Zone at Sustainability Live 2015

For the first time, edie will be hosting an Innovation Zone at Sustainability Live 2015 to showcase the best emerging, pre-commercialised sustainability solutions. The Innovation Zone will showcase 16 selected entries to an invited audience of potential investors and venture capitalists along with the show's visitors from the business and public sectors.

Lucinda Dann


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