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Stanford Researchers Develop Aluminum Battery They Say Can Recharge in One Minute

It's unclear, though, how soon a commercial version of the technology might be available.


A research team at Stanford University says it has come up with a prototype aluminum battery that can recharge in as little as one minute, as compared to the hour or so it takes the fastest lithium-ion battery.

Stanford chemistry professor Hongjie Dai has been leading the effort to develop an alternative battery technology that is cheaper and easier to recharge than conventional cells.

Advances in batteries are keenly watched by the technology industry. Although other aspects of technology, such as storage and chip power, double every 18 months, battery capacity has only been growing at about 10 percent a year.

The aluminum is also safer, said Dai, who has been working on the project for about two years.

“In our study, we have videos showing that you can drill through the aluminum battery pouch, and it will continue working for a while longer without catching fire,” Dai said on a Stanford University news site. That’s in contrast to traditional batteries which remain a fire risk.

The technology behind the aluminum-ion battery is described in detail in a paper for the current issue of the journal Nature. Researchers have been eyeing aluminum for some time, but among the hurdles are getting sufficient voltage and a battery that can undergo multiple recharge cycles.

Dai told Re/code that it is unclear how long it will take to commercialize the technology. The hurdles, he said, are to scale up, increase the battery’s capacity and get a low-cost electrolyte material.

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