Aluminium–air batteries have a theoretical capacity of 8100 Wh/Kg, 40 times greater than lithium-ion at 160–200 Wh/Kg, can be made cheaply and operated without the risks of fire from short circuits or over-charging. They have been used for applications such as autonomous underwater vehicles that need significant amounts of power.
However, the batteries generate nasty residual chemicals that need to be disposed of. So Dr Ryohei Mori at Fuji Pigment developed a rechargeable aluminium–air battery using ionic-liquid-based electrolytes and non-oxide ceramic materials such as titanium carbide or titanium nitride for the air cathode. This has reduced the generation of by-products at the anode and at the air cathode so much that the technology can be used as a rechargeable cell.
Mori has built a standard CR2032-sized aluminium–air battery using these materials that gives a capacity of least 1200 mAh/g, and this is expected to considerably increase with further optimisation.
The company, which develops materials rather than products, is now looking for companies, research institutes, and universities to work on the aluminium–air batteries for commercialisation.
Ryohei Mori, Suppression of byproduct accumulation in rechargeable aluminum–air batteries using nonoxide ceramic materials as air cathode materials, Sustainable Energy & Fuels, Advanced Article, 2017, DOI: 10.1039/C7SE00087A