Aluminum Set to Make a Charge on Battery Technology

Rapid charge, long life batteries made from low-cost and abundant aluminum are set to emerge from research led by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). Unveiled at the recent All Energy event in Glasgow, aluminum ion batteries could displace the lead-acid batteries commonly found in automotive applications in just two years.

Developed in a collaborative research project together with Stanford University in the U.S., the aluminum 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, aluminum is a very common element and is therefore easily obtained at a relatively low cost. 

Aluminum 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.

Furthermore, aluminum ion technology is inherently safe — at high temperatures for example — and the batteries may even be pierced without risk of fire. This safety aspect is crucial for mass production and widespread application of new battery technology.

The elegant aluminum battery design is based on aluminum and an aluminum 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 aluminum ion technology is flexible and formable, making it suitable for numerous applications.

This year the novel battery design has already been presented with the prestigious 2017 Edison Award.

The next phase of development is now aimed at doubling or tripling the energy storage capacity of the battery technology.

 Currently energy densities are around 40 kWh/kg for this aluminum 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, aluminum ion batteries are already suitable for commercial production, but ITRI is seeking additional collaborative partners to accelerate the process of development and roll-out.

High speed charge/discharge, greater durability, safe and low cost, are the advantages of an aluminum battery. We believe that this type of battery technology can be a good solution for energy storage systems in renewable energy field.

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Manager & Senior Researcher, Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratories, Industrial Technology Research Institute Project leader, Aluminum Battery Project, Distributed Energy Storage System and Control Technology Project, Bureau of Energy, Ministry of Economic Affairs and National Energy Program NEP II, Taiwan ν Current Positions 2009-Present Project manager & Senior Researcher, Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratories, Industrial Technology Research Institute, Hsinchu, Taiwan. 

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