Scientists at Stanford University announced a breakthrough in creating a bendable aluminum battery last week, unveiling a new prototype that could change the face of both hobbyist and professional hardware development. The new battery charges rapidly, can withstand over 7,500 charging cycles without a drop in capacity, and can generate two volts of electricity—stats that represent a step forward compared to previous generations of the tech.
“We have developed a rechargeable aluminum-ion 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 Stanford chemistry researcher Hongjie Dai. “Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it.”
Scientists have long been intrigued by aluminum batteries due to their low cost and safety advantages over lithium, which can pose a fire hazard. A key challenge has been finding materials to use in combination with the aluminum to maintain voltage after repeated charging cycles, and though Stanford’s new battery yields about half the voltage as Lithium in its current form, researchers are optimistic that improvements to the cathode material will enable a more powerful battery.
Other than the voltage, the aluminum battery “has everything else you’d dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility, and long cycle life,” Dai told the Stanford report. “I see this as a new battery in its early days. It’s quite exciting.”
The researchers’ full report is available in the April 6 edition of Nature.