Move over, lithium-ion batteries. There’s an alternative being tested that could make you obsolete.
On the surface, there seems to be very little downside to the battery concept being tested by a Stanford University graduate team of researchers. Lead by chemistry professor Dai Hongjie, the new aluminum-ion batteries would offer many advantages over their common counterparts. First and foremost, the batteries bend. In a mobile world where popular devices are often dropped, crushed, or sat on, the idea of a bendable battery could be appealing as new generations of smartphones and tablets emerge.
“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 Dai. “Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.”
The batteries are non-flammable. There have been incidents through the years of lithium-ion batteries catching fire, whether it’s in the engine of a Tesla or in a cell phone under a young girl’s pillow. Stanford claims that these batteries will not catch fire, even drilling into one while it was running. It continued to operate even with a drill hole running through it.
Perhaps the most appealing advantage to consumers is that they take a charge very quickly. The batteries tested by Stanford were able to get a full charge in less than a minute. They also seem to hold the charge better after hundreds and even thousands of charging cycles, potentially solving a problem that has plagued batteries since their invention.
For companies that rely on batteries, the biggest benefit is that these batteries are cheap. The materials that would be used on them are inexpensive and in abundance.
According to Stanford:
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.
Here’s the video of the battery in action: