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Researchers develop aluminum-ion battery that's better than lithium-ions in nearly every way

By Shawn Knight · 13 replies
Apr 7, 2015
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  1. As a technology enthusiast, it’s hard not to get excited about all of the recent advancements in battery technology. Just last week, we covered a breakthrough involving rapid-charging hybrid supercapacitors from researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute.

    This week brings news of yet another development from scientists at a California university, Stanford – perhaps you’ve heard of it?

    Stanford’s latest is a new type of aluminum-ion battery that seemingly trumps the lithium-ion units we’re all familiar with in a number of different categories. Research into aluminum-ion batteries isn’t exactly new but as PCWorld notes, researchers up to this point have struggled with finding a combination of suitable materials to use in batteries for commercial products.

    Dai Hongjie, the Stanford chemistry processor that helped develop the new battery, said his team accidentally discovered that graphite was an excellent material. As such, their battery consists of an aluminum anode with a graphite cathode in a sac of ionic liquid electrolyte. The latter attribute means the battery is also flexible.

    On top of flexibility, the Stanford aluminum-ion battery isn’t prone to exploding or erupting into flames when damaged like lithium ion batteries are. Furthermore, the prototype can withstand 7,500 charging cycles before any performance degradation sets in and it can be fully recharged in roughly 60 seconds. It's also very cheap to build.

    What’s the catch, you ask?

    Current prototypes only produce about two volts, much less than the 3.6 volts a conventional lithium ion battery affords. Its energy density checks in at 40 watts per kilogram which again, is far less than the 100 to 260 watts per kilogram that’s possible with today’s stalwart.

    Hongjie and his team are optimistic that their battery’s shortcomings can be overcome, perhaps simply by improving upon the cathode material.

    Permalink to story.


    NTAPRO TS Evangelist Posts: 809   +104

    I can't wait for it to not reach our devices any time soon like everything else
    cmbjive, Kibaruk, Arris and 6 others like this.
  3. TheDreams

    TheDreams TS Evangelist Posts: 629   +68

    ^^^All this talk about advancing tech yet I never see it commercially.
    cmbjive and hexagram87 like this.
  4. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,224   +1,662

    It will probably never see mass production as it currently is. They still have years of work.

    This is why I hate battery tech news :(
  5. Daniel Gordon

    Daniel Gordon TS Member

    Except these batteries produce too little power, and weight too much. The weight might not be a concern if it really charges that fast - but the reduced voltage output is a problem. It's not a small thing.
  6. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 3,421   +1,821

    Exactly, quite possibly years of work left for this.
    The reduced voltage is closer to the 1.5V of alkaline cells, or lithium-iron cells such as the "Ultimate Lithium" batteries on the market. I'd argue that that is not much of a problem since it is close to an existing voltage standard.

    I would, however, argue that the power density is much more of a problem than the article makes it out to be since it means that for a battery of the same weight, it will last from 1/2.5 to 1/6.5 of the time that a lithium battery lasts in the same application.
  7. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,085   +1,503

    Battery Tech: We've found a solution, but you'll never see it!
    Arris likes this.
  8. Nima304

    Nima304 TS Evangelist Posts: 376   +111

    I busted out laughing in the middle of the office. Thanks.

    But seriously, I'm tired of news about battery developments. The research is fascinating, but it's been years and dozens of breakthroughs, and we're still stuck with essentially the same old LiIon batteries we had back in the early 2000s.
  9. umbala

    umbala TS Maniac Posts: 197   +176

    I don't even bother reading articles like this anymore. I just read the title and then make a post like everyone else to voice my disdain. This is just another pie in the sky battery tech as far as I'm concerned. These "researchers" can make whatever claims they want; until I see it sold in stores, it doesn't exist. Period.

    "it’s hard not to get excited about all of the recent advancements in battery technology." <-- Hahaha, yearh right! More like it's hard *TO* get excited about all the new battery tech we're seeing almost weekly now. There has been some amazing new battery tech just around the corner for at least a decade now, but ACTUAL batteries have hardly improved at all.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 7, 2015
  10. Darth Shiv

    Darth Shiv TS Evangelist Posts: 1,943   +562

    The voltage is not a problem at all. Batteries can be connected in serial for addition.
  11. Adam1

    Adam1 TS Rookie Posts: 28

    Most likely it is too expensive to mass produce and will not happen.
  12. tipstir

    tipstir TS Ambassador Posts: 2,842   +193

    Funny I had met a NASA Engineer back in the early 90's and he told me US Government had 9 volt battery that could run for 3 years without replacement. But we as consumers will never see that battery. Now after all those years he was right.

    I use green lawn equipment since 2012 cordless that uses 20v / 20 amp and 40v / 40 amp lithium-ions batteries. Got a lot of these batteries. For lawn mower, shrub trimmer, tree chain pruning, weed wacker / edger, leaf blower 20v and 40v ones, power drill, dry vac and LED flash light (last 11 hrs on 20 v / 20 amp .

    If these new lithium-ions do improve things would be nice, but I don't see it coming to us consumers either. They control what we get never going to get anything that last as long or charge faster than 3 hrs. I pay nearly $100 bucks for 40 v / 40 amp lithium-ions batteries each. I can do 5, 000 sq ft of lawn with one of those brick batteries.
  13. Puiu

    Puiu TS Evangelist Posts: 3,224   +1,662

    it's true that the military has technology that far surpases what we get as consumers.
    the only way we will get something similar is if they develop something that far supases what they already have.

    but... I find this to be the correct way of handling important technology.
  14. Fokissed

    Fokissed TS Rookie

    "Researchers develop aluminum-ion battery that's better than lithium-ions in nearly every way"

    ... except in energy density, which is the only thing holding back longer lasting phones and electric cars. The majority of the size of a phone is the battery, and weight/size is biggest problem in electric cars. Cheaper, longer lasting, quicker charging, and safer batteries would be nice but... at ~1/4th the energy density we'll have phones that last (assuming 16hrs of moderate use) 4 hours and electric cars that have a (Nissan leaf has 100 mile range) 25 mile range.

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