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  Date: 12/04/2015

Aluminum battery tech safer, last longer and charges faster than Li-Ion

No-fire causing and no environment-damaging aluminium ion battery technology is invented by researchers at Stanford University. This team of researchers have published an article titled "An ultrafast rechargeable aluminum-ion battery," which will be published in the April 6 advance online edition of the journal Nature.

The aluminum metal-based battery doesn't cause an explosion or fire in abnormal usage, as per its inventors. This aluminium-based battery technology is rated as better technology than lithium ion as well as alkaline batteries on various aspects of battery performance including environment impact.

"We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames," said Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford, who is part of this research. "Our new battery won't catch fire, even if you drill through it."

Aluminum doesn't cost high and also has low flammability feature and supports high-charge storage capacity. The key challenge in developing aluminum-ion battery is in finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging. Solution invented by Stanford researchers is using graphite as cathode.

"People have tried different kinds of materials for the cathode," Dai said. "We accidentally discovered that a simple solution is to use graphite, which is basically carbon. In our study, we identified a few types of graphite material that give us very good performance."

The electrolyte used by these researchers is simple salt in liquid form. The prototype battery made up of aluminium anode and graphite cathode immersed in the liquid salt electrolyte and is packed in a flexible polymer- coated pouch.

"In our study, we have videos showing that you can drill through the aluminum battery pouch, and it will continue working for a while longer without catching fire," Dai said. "But lithium batteries can go off in an unpredictable manner in the air, the car or in your pocket. Besides safety, we have achieved major breakthroughs in aluminum battery performance."

Not only in the safety, even on the Fast charging front, these researchers claim they achieved good results with their aluminum prototype.

When it comes to durability in terms charge/discharge cycles, the prototype made by the Stanford researchers able to withstand more than 7,500 Charging cycles without any loss of capacity. Most of the popular batteries including lithium ion and lead-acid batteries will not last more than thousand cycles.

"Another feature of the aluminum battery is flexibility," Gong said. "You can bend it and fold it, so it has the potential for use in flexible electronic devices. Aluminum is also a cheaper metal than lithium."

Aluminum-ion technology also suggested as replacement for 1.5-volt AA and AAA alkaline batteries, which are environmentally damaging technology.

Well what is still missing? the voltage level is not sufficient enough compared to today's lithium ion batteries.
"Our battery produces about half the voltage of a typical lithium battery," Dai said. "But improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage and energy density. 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. I see this as a new battery in its early days. It's quite exciting."

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Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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