New Aluminum/Graphite Battery Charges in One Minute

April 7, 2015

More evidence that energy storage technology is following a curve similar to what we’ve seen with other hi-tech areas in recent decades. When engineers begin to focus on a problem,  solutions arise.
This new battery technology out of Stanford relies on cheap and widely available materials, aluminum and graphite, can be recharged very quickly, and seems much safer, comparitively, than prevailing lithium-ion technology.

Mashable:

The team’s aluminum-ion battery sounds like a dream come true for gadget manufacturers — a perfect battery with few flaws.

Until now, aluminum-ion batteries weren’t able to produce a high enough voltage, especially after many recharge cycles. But the prototype created by the Stanford researchers consists of an aluminum anode and a cathode made of graphite — a combination of materials that allows for producing sufficient voltage (about two volts), even after thousands of recharge cycles.

The battery can recharge in one minute, it’s flexible (meaning it can be bent to fit more snugly into various gadgets), and it’s potentially inexpensive, since aluminum is cheaper than lithium. Furthermore, the materials are safer than the ones in lithium-ion batteries, which can catch fire in certain situations. In contrast, the aluminum-ion battery won’t catch fire even if you drill a hole through it while it’s working.

In the video posted on YouTube by the Stanford researchers (below) you can see a prototype of the battery powering an LED light while being bent and drilled through. The battery is also seen powering a smartphone, and another potential application mentioned is storing energy on the electrical grid.

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16 Responses to “New Aluminum/Graphite Battery Charges in One Minute”

  1. shaneburgel Says:

    Game changer.

  2. indy222 Says:

    2V isn’t much – is this only for low voltage situations?


    • Lithium-ion is only about 4V.

      The way you get higher voltages is to wire multiple cells in series. If you have a 2V cell and need 20V for your application, you use 10 cells.

      For an example you may have encountered, look in the battery compartment of anything you have that uses multiple batteries. You may be able to see how it connects the anode of one battery to the cathode of the next.

      • MorinMoss Says:

        Still, they have only achieved about 1/2 that and the energy density is lower so it’s not quite ready for prime time.

        So while this is definitely promising, I won’t be doing by energy storage happy dance just yet.

        • MorinMoss Says:

          1/2 that voltage, I meant to write

          • jpcowdrey Says:

            Can someone knowledgeable about cell characteristics check my math? I get a specific energy density for the aluminum cell of 140 Wh/kg, which stacks up pretty good against the typical value of 155 Wh/kg for the Nissan Leaf battery pack and 60% of the 233 Wh/kg for the Tesla.

            If the aluminum battery is rated as charge/wt. of aluminum used in cell rather than charge/total cell wt., then something less than 20% discounting of charge capacity is implied, I think.

            Still, not too far from ready for prime time.

    • Sir Charles Says:

      A lead acid battery has also “only” 2 volts.

  3. Gingerbaker Says:

    Well…. what’s wrong with it? There are lots of performance characteristics of batteries that were not addressed here.


  4. Good point. A LED only requires a few mA to work. Running a phone takes a lot more depending what it’s doing.

    Would have been interesting to get an idea of Watt/hr capacity. But these sorts of figures don’t mean much to the average joe. This is a media report after all.

    I’m interested that this even made the radio news where I am this morning!

  5. MorinMoss Says:

    So will this be better than the Ryden Dual Carbon battery from Power Japan Plus and which will make it to market first?

  6. Sir Charles Says:

    Very interesting. I hope the industry will not hold it back and we will soon get better batteries. Please keep us informed on this issue. Thanks.


  7. I looked through some of the Youtube videos (not just the one linked), and from I’ve seen it all looks good. Unless there is some gotcha that they failed to report, it all sounds wonderful.

    So for once, I don’t have anything negative to say. At least not yet. This is a potentially green technology that could really work, assuming that all we’ve heard is true.

    The one thing I do worry about though is patents. Presumably the patent is owned by Stanford University, so the big question is what they will do with it. Put it into the public domain? Doubtful. Commercialize it – OK, fine, but the devil is in the details. If they sell it to the highest bidder, that could be Exxon-Mobil. Hopefully, Stanford will do something for the public good.

    At the end of the day, the proof that this battery is a “game changer” will come when we can finally buy one.


  8. Just wanted to add something. At the end of the Youtube video, it says special thanks to Hongjie Dai (professor of chemistry) and Yingpeng Wu (posdoctoral student).

    Both Chinese names. I looked them up. Professor Dai has been with Stanford quite a while, and is probably not going anywhere:

    http://dailab.stanford.edu/

    Yingpeng Wu, on the other hand, is a recent graduate of Nankai University in Tianjin, China. Good chance he will return home, though perhaps he’ll move permanently to the USA. Or maybe keep his feet in both camps, doing some international commuting. Anyway, point is that China will likely be producing these batteries sooner rather than later, assuming of course that they are as good as advertised.

    So getting back to patent law – if the USA throws up a big patent barrier, don’t be surprised if Asia has these batteries in common use by the end of the year, while Americans have to wait another 20 for the patents to expire. It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened – there was an excellent NiMH battery invented over a decade ago that had the same capacity as modern lithium-ion batteries, but the patent got bought up and buried by Chevron-Texaco:

    http://fuel-efficient-vehicles.org/energy-news/?p=690

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_encumbrance_of_large_automotive_NiMH_batteries

    • MorinMoss Says:

      If those NiMH batteries were so good, why didn’t someone overseas develop them?
      There are more than a few places where Chevron has little influence.


  9. I just typed what I thought was a good comment, only to have it eaten by automated “moderation” because I had more than two links in it. Peter, wish you could kill this “feature.”

    Second attempt to post it, and the server just sat and did nothing (laughing at me?).

    So I’m posting it for the third time, and if this doesn’t work I’m just giving up…

    Yingpeng Wu (mentioned at the end of the Youtube video) is a recent graduate of Nankai University in Tianjin, China. Good chance he will return home, though perhaps he’ll move permanently to the USA. Or maybe keep his feet in both camps, doing some international commuting. Anyway, point is that China will likely be producing these batteries sooner rather than later, assuming of course that they are as good as advertised.

    So getting back to patent law – if the USA throws up a big patent barrier, don’t be surprised if Asia has these batteries in common use by the end of the year, while Americans have to wait another 20 for the patents to expire. It wouldn’t be the first time such a thing has happened – there was an excellent NiMH battery invented over a decade ago that had the same capacity as modern lithium-ion batteries, but the patent got bought up and buried by Chevron-Texaco:

    http://fuel-efficient-vehicles.org/energy-news/?p=690


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