Australian Researchers Unveil ‘Scalable’ Aqueous Rechargeable Zinc Batteries

Australian Researchers Unveil ‘Scalable’ Aqueous Rechargeable Zinc Batteries

Breakthrough in Aqueous Zinc Battery Technology

Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) claim to have developed a technology that overcomes the recharging capabilities associated with aqueous zinc battery technology, potentially redefining energy storage for homes and grids.

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Challenges of Aqueous Zinc Batteries

Aqueous zinc batteries (AZBs) have emerged as one of the alternatives to lithium-ion battery technology that now dominates the renewable and stationary energy storage market. However, the development of the technology faces major challenges due to chemical corrosion, which severely limits the ability of such batteries to recharge.

Advantages of AZB Chemistry

The benefits of AZB chemistry are attributable to the energy-dense zinc metal anode and aqueous salt solution electrolytes. But their incompatibility, which results in chemical corrosion of the anode, effectively reduces the cycle life of the battery cell.

UNSW Researchers’ Solution to Extend Battery Life

A team of researchers from the UNSW School of Chemical Engineering say they have developed a solution that addresses the corrosion issue, improving the battery life span by five to 20 times, the equivalent of pushing the lifetime from a few months to more than three years.

Innovative Organic Compound Addition to the Electrolyte

Researchers Yuan Shang, Dr. Priyank Kumar, and Dr. Dipan Kundu said they spent three years working on the solution, which involved adding small concentrations of organic compounds to the battery electrolyte.

The researchers have now revealed that adding a 1% concentration of 1,2 butanediol to the electrolyte addresses the corrosion issue and effectively reduces the dendritic zinc deposits that otherwise short-circuit the battery cell.

Significant Improvements Published in Advanced Materials

The outcome of their work, recently published in Advanced Materials, is a five to 20 times improvement in the battery cycle life under conditions suitable for beyond-lab-scale development.

Preserving Cost and Safety Benefits

The research team said the solution preserves the aqueous nature of the electrolyte, maintaining cost and safety benefits of AZB technology and the results are approaching that of competing lithium-ion batteries.

Prospective Applications of AZB Technology

Kundu said AZB technology could provide “a cost-effective and reliable storage option for industries like mining, construction, and telecommunications.”

The UNSW has estimated that a fully developed technology would cost consumers around one-third to one-fourth the price of the present-day lithium-ion systems.

“The AZB technology can be implemented as energy storage systems at various scales, from small-scale residential/commercial and medium-scale community storage units to large-scale grid-level installations,” said Kundu.

Future Developments and Commercial Prospects

The UNSW team said it is continuing to work on developing the technology with an eye on developing battery cell prototypes and is seeking funding to develop a spinoff focused on commercial development.

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