Stanford researchers invent ultrafast-charging aluminum battery

Stanford University scientists have invented a high-performance aluminum battery that's fast-charging, long-lasting and inexpensive. And a big plus: It's non-flammable.

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"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, in the Stanford Report. "Our new battery won't catch fire, even if you drill through it."

The breakthrough is described by Dai and his colleagues in "An ultrafast rechargeable aluminum-ion battery," in the journal Nature.

Researchers have tried unsuccessfully for decades to develop a commercially viable aluminum-ion battery. One big challenge has been finding materials capable of producing sufficient voltage after repeated cycles of charging and discharging.

"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 researchers also are demonstrating bendable batteries. For the experimental battery, the Stanford team placed the aluminum anode and graphite cathode, along with an ionic liquid electrolyte, inside a flexible polymer-coated pouch.

Millions of cell phones and laptops use batteries made of lithium-ion, which can be a fire hazard. United Airlines and Delta Air Lines recently decided to ban bulk shipments of the batteries after Federal Aviation Administration tests showed the fire danger.

Source: YouTube/Stanford

Besides safety, the Stanford team reported that their prototype battery can deliver super-fast charging times, even down to one minute.

While aluminum is a cheaper metal than lithium and aluminum-ion technology offers an environmentally friendly alternative to disposable alkaline batteries, improvements will be needed to match the voltage of lithium-ion batteries, the research team acknowledged.

For more:
- see this Stanford Report article

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