Aluminium battery may triple energy density

A new, ultrafast rechargeable aluminum battery (URABat) was unveiled at the All Energy event in Glasgow, UK.  Research led by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI) has led to the development of rapid charge, long-life batteries made from low-cost and abundant aluminium.

Aluminium batteries are expected to share the performance characteristics of their Li-ion counterparts but, by using aluminium, the batteries could be cheaper and not constrained by limited resources. By contrast, lithium is a relatively rare metal, requiring expensive mining operations.

Aluminium battery technology may even outperform lithium ion, for example they can withstand 10,000 charge and discharge cycles without degradation. This brings down the costs even further. Aluminium batteries also have high power density, can charge rapidly and are considered to be safer than Li-ion. The flexibility of aluminium provides more freedom in the physical structure of the battery.

The battery uses aluminium electrodes and an aluminium salt electrolyte gel. A graphite membrane, developed by Stanford University, forms part of the design. This design won the silver medal at the prestigious 2017 Edison Award and is being trialled in an electric scooter.

ITRI researcher, Dr Chien-Chih Chiang,  said, “Currently energy densities are around 40 kWh/kg for this aluminium ion battery technology; we expect to boost that to 60-80 kWh/kg before launching the system on a commercial basis.”


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