Rapid charge, long-life batteries made from low-cost and abundant aluminium are set to emerge from research led by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). The ultrafast rechargeable aluminum battery (URABat) technology was unveiled at the All Energy event in Glasgow, UK, last week.
Developed in a collaborative research project with Stanford University in the USA, the aluminium ion technology is expected to possess similar performance characteristics to existing battery designs. However, in contrast to the currently dominant technologies such as lithium ion, aluminium is a very common element and is therefore easily obtained at a relatively low cost.
Aluminium battery technology is also able to withstand 10,000 charge and discharge cycles without perceptible degradation in performance, far exceeding many of the existing battery designs and significantly reducing the specific cost.
The aluminium battery design is based on aluminium and an aluminium salt electrolyte gel from ITRI, together with a graphite membrane developed by Stanford University.
In addition to its attractive power density, rapid charging capability, low cost, long lifespan and safety characteristics, the aluminium ion technology is flexible and formable, making it suitable for numerous applications.
This year the novel battery design has already been presented with a silver medal at the prestigious 2017 Edison Award.
ITRI researcher Dr Chien-Chih Chiang explained that the next phase of development is now aimed at doubling or even tripling the energy storage capacity of the battery technology.
Dr Chiang said, “Currently energy densities are around 40 kWh/kg for this aluminium ion battery technology, we expect to boost that to 60-80 kWh/kg before launching the system on a commercial basis.”
With technology trials underway in an electric scooter, aluminium ion batteries are already suitable for commercial production, but ITRI is seeking additional collaborative partners to accelerate the process of development and rollout.