Researchers at Stanford University have developed an inflammable battery using aluminum as the anode, graphite as the cathode, and an ionic liquid analog electrolyte made from a compound of AlCl3 and urea.
Stanford chemistry Professor Hongjie Dai and doctoral candidate Michael Angell led the project, which could provide an inexpensive storage solution for solar power or other forms of renewable energy.
Angell said the technology would be ideal for renewable energy applications, especially for residential peak load shifting needs. “Grid storage is the main goal”, he said.
Dai’s laboratory was the first to make a rechargeable aluminum battery in 2015. The initial version could cycle thousands of times in less than a minutes, but the electrolyte was expensive.
According to Dai, the new battery will be 100 times cheaper than the previous version. It also has a 99.7% Coulombic efficiency, and is able to cycle 1,500 times within 45 minutes under laboratory conditions.
The group has licensed the battery patents to AB Systems (a company owned by Dai), which will aim to develop a commercial version of the battery.
Dai said: “I would feel safe if my backup battery in my house is made of urea with little chance of causing fire.”
The next step for the scientists will be to increase the battery’s capacity, speed the charge time, and extend the lifetime of the battery, Angell said.