The team is led by Stanford chemistry professor Honglie Dai. What they have developed is an aluminum and graphite battery and it ticks almost all of the boxes of a desirable battery design. It’s very cheap to make, it won’t burst into flames even if you drill a hole in it, recharge cycles without degradation are in the thousands, and in the form of a typical smartphone battery it will recharge in about a minute. One final revolutionary feature of this battery is the fact it can be bent and shaped without impacting performance.
Aluminum batteries have been attempted before, but this is the first viable one in terms of being a lithium-ion battery replacement. Dai’s battery consists of an aluminum anode, graphite cathode, ionic liquid electrolyte, and a flexible polymer acting as a casing. The reason the battery won’t burst into flames is the fact the electrolyte is just a salt that is liquid at room temperature.
Voltage and energy density is currently about half that of existing lithium-ion batteries, but the team is confident that can be greatly improved by doing further work on the graphite cathode. Where as lithium-ion batteries can be reliably charged around 1,000 times, the prototype aluminum battery already reaches 7,500 cycles. The fact it can be bent and shaped will allow manufacturers to have more flexibility with the design of gadgets such as smartphones, laptops, tablets, and smartwatches in the future.
It seems all the ingredients are there for a battery that will quickly replace lithium-ion, and the only problem they need to overcome is that of energy density. If they can solve that, which the team is confident it can, we could finally have that revolutionary battery we’ve all been waiting for.