A team at Stanford University, led by professor Hongjie Dai, has developed a high-performance, safe, fast-charging aluminum-ion battery that can last for thousands of cycles. The Al-ion battery—comprising an aluminum anode, graphite cathode and ionic liquid electrolyte—produces about half the voltage of a Li-ion battery. In addition to powering small electronic devices, Al-ion batteries could be used to store renewable energy on the electrical grid, Dai said.
A paper describing the novel aluminum-ion battery will be published in the journal Nature.
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. Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.—Prof. Dai
Aluminum has long been an attractive material for batteries, mainly because of its low cost, low flammability and high-charge storage capacity. For decades, researchers have tried unsuccessfully to develop a commercially viable aluminum-ion battery. A key challenge has been finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging.
Aluminum batteries developed at other laboratories usually died after just 100 charge-discharge cycles. In contrast, the Stanford battery was able to withstand more than 7,500 cycles without any loss of capacity. Another feature of the aluminum battery is flexibility, said Stanford graduate student Ming Gong, co-lead author.
However, more improvements will be needed to match the voltage of lithium-ion batteries, Dai said.
Our battery produces about half the voltage of a typical lithium battery. 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.—Prof. Dai
Other co-lead authors of the study affiliated with Stanford are visiting scientists Meng-Chang Lin from the Taiwan Industrial Technology Research Institute, Bingan Lu from Hunan University, and postdoctoral scholar Yingpeng Wu. Other authors are Di-Yan Wang, Mingyun Guan, Michael Angell, Changxin Chen and Jiang Yang from Stanford; and Bing-Joe Hwang from National Taiwan Normal University.
“An ultrafast rechargeable aluminum-ion battery,” Nature