Replacing Lithium With Aluminum For Environmentally Friendly Batteries

This cheap and environmentally friendly battery could theoretically power a Tesla Model S for 560 km.

AsianScientist (Apr. 1, 2016) – A research team from the Shenzhen Institutes of Advanced Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has developed an environmentally friendly, low-cost battery that overcomes many of the problems of lithium ion batteries. Their results have been published in Advanced Energy Materials.

The new aluminum-graphite dual-ion battery (AGDIB) offers significantly reduced weight, volume, and fabrication cost, as well as higher energy density, compared to conventional lithium ion batteries. AGDIB’s electrode materials are composed of environmentally friendly, low cost aluminum and graphite only, while its electrolyte is composed of conventional lithium salt and carbonate solvent.

Lithium ion batteries are widely used in portable electronic devices, electric vehicles and renewable energy systems. Battery disposal creates major environmental problems, since most batteries contain toxic metals in their electrodes. According to the Freedonia Group, world battery demand is expected to rise 7.7 percent annually, reaching US$120 billion in 2019.

“Compared with conventional lithium ion batteries, this battery (AGDIB) shows an obvious advantage in production cost (~50 percent lower), specific density (~1.3-2.0 times), and energy density (~1.6-2.8 times),” said team leader Tang Yongbing.

The AGDIB was made using a dual ion intercalation/alloying process. Upon charging, anions in the electrolyte intercalate into the graphite cathode, while the Li+ ions in the electrolyte deposit onto the aluminum counter electrode to form an Al-Li alloy. The discharge process is the reverse of the charging process, where both anions and Li+ ions diffuse back into the electrolyte.

Since the Al counter electrode in the AGDIB acts as the anode and the current collector at the same time, the dead load and dead volume of the AGDIB is significantly reduced, making a battery with both high specific energy density and high volume energy density.

Compared with commercial lithium ion batteries and electrochemical capacitors, the AGDIB showed significantly improved performance, delivering a specific energy density of ~222 Wh/kg at a power density of 132 W/kg, and ~150 Wh/kg at 1200 W/kg .

Importantly, the volume energy density of the AGDIB can reach ~560Wh/L, which is much higher than traditional batteries (~350 Wh/L for Tesla Model S and ~200 Wh/L for BYD E6). For example, a 500 kg AGDIB-based power battery could reach a recharge mileage of ~550 km (~425 km for Tesla Model S and ~225 km for BYD E6), and a 200 L AGDIB-based power battery could reach a mileage of about 560 km.

This AGDIB shows potential for large-scale application in both electronic devices and electric vehicles. According to the authors, the successful commercialization of this battery has great potential to significantly enhance the performance of portable electronic devices, electric vehicles, and renewable energy systems.

The article can be found at: Zhang et al. (2016) A Novel Aluminum–Graphite Dual-Ion Battery.


Source: Chinese Academy of Sciences; Photo: Shutterstock.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

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