Lithium batteries have been a boon for the modern world replacing the heavier, single-use alkaline type in everything from wristwatches to jumbo jets.
Unfortunately, these rechargeable batteries are already struggling to keep up with our ever-increasing energy needs, especially for mobile phones, and they are also far from environmentally friendly.
Now researchers at Stanford University in California have unveiled what they claim is the first high-performance aluminium battery rechargeable in as little as one minute.
What’s more, it is allegedly more durable than rivals, and can withstand upwards of 7,500 charge cycles without loss of capacity, compared with 1,000 for Lithium batteries.
Its other remarkable feature is that it is bendable: “It’s possible to have a bendable cell phone. With a bendable screen you have bendable batteries on the back and it’s great,” says Stanford University graduate student, Ming Gong.
The new batteries are made of aluminium and graphite, materials that are quite cheap. Aluminium has long been an attractive material for batteries, mainly because of its low cost, light weight, low flammability and high-charge storage capacity. For decades, researchers have tried unsuccessfully to develop a commercially viable aluminium battery.
“They have a reasonable capacity and a very long cycle of life. There’s no decay over hundreds of cycles. It’s quite exciting. I think it can be further improved and this is a great start. We think that it has a bright future,” says Ming Gong.
The main downside is that the aluminium battery currently only delivers about half the voltage of a lithium battery like like those used in smartphones and laptops. But the team say they are working to find a solution.