An international team of researchers lead by Stanford University has developed rechargeable batteries that can store up to six times the charge of commercially available batteries.
The breakthrough, described in a new paper published on August 25 in the journal Nature, could accelerate the use of rechargeable batteries and bring battery researchers one step closer to achieving two top stated goals of their field: developing a high-performance rechargeable battery that could allow smart phones to be charged only once a week rather than daily and developing electric vehicles that can travel six times faster than gasoline vehicles.
The new alkali metal-chlorine batteries, created by a team led by Stanford chemistry Professor Hongjie Dai and PhD candidate Guanzhou Zhu, rely on the chemical conversion of sodium chloride or lithium chloride to chlorine.
When electrons flow from one side of a rechargeable battery to the other, the chemistry returns to its original condition, ready for further usage. Non-rechargeable batteries, on the other hand, are out of luck. Their chemistry cannot be restored after they have been drained.
“A rechargeable battery is a bit like a rocking chair. It tips in one direction, but then rocks back when you add electricity,” Dai explained. “What we have here is a high-rocking rocking chair.”
However, for the time being, the functioning prototype they’ve created may still be acceptable for use in modest daily devices such as hearing aids or remote controls. Much more effort is needed to develop the battery structure, enhance the energy density, scale up the batteries, and increase the number of cycles for consumer devices or electric cars.