Researchers look at aluminum to replace lithium in batteries

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

Aluminum meets several criteria for a successor to the widespread lithium-ion technology say researchers at R2RBattery at the Technical Univeristy of Freiberg (Germany). The raw materials are easily available and the battery would feature a very high energy density. Still unclear are certain components of the cathode, ion conductors that bind the aluminum ions. Within the three year project, the research team around Prof Dirk Meyer will identify the most promising material combinations and devise a concept for the implementation of aluminum ion batteries.

To identify suitable materials, the scientists in Freiberg can fall back to an algorithm developed in the preceding project CryPhysConcept. This algorithm helps them to assess material properties with regards to their electrochemical potential as well as economic and ecological aspects. In this context, aluminum turned out to be one of the most promising materials. “It is the most frequent metal in the earth crust, it is easy to be produced and to recycle. In contrast to lithium it does not catch fire in contact with the air which translates into much higher safety. In addition, it is easier to process,” explained project manager professor Tilmann Leisegang. What’s more, aluminum-ion batteries are more cost-effective than commercial lithium systems – and they can store more energy.

The project is funded in part by the German federal research ministry. Besides TU Freiberg, nine project partners including several academic institutions as well as commercial companies are participating in the research.

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