The mobile battery that charges in a minute

“An aluminum battery developed by Stanford University researchers is an alternative to the current lithium-ion batteries used in smartphones and researchers claim it won’t damage the environment or be combustible,” Arjun Kharpal reports for CNBC.

We have developed a rechargeable aluminum battery that may replace existing storage devices, such as alkaline batteries, which are bad for the environment, and lithium-ion batteries, which occasionally burst into flames. Our new battery won’t catch fire, even if you drill through it. — Hongjie Dai, professor of chemistry at Stanford University

“Two key characteristics of the battery is that it is bendable, allowing it to be used in potentially flexible devices, and costs very little to produce,” Kharpal reports. “Stanford scientists’ battery can withstand more than 7,500 charging cycles without any loss of capacity… a typical lithium-ion battery lasts about 1,000 cycles.”

“The researchers admitted that more work needs to be done until the battery will become a viable consumer product,” Kharpal reports. “Dai said the aluminum prototype can generate about two volts of electricity, more than the 1.5-volt AA and AAA batteries consumers currently use [sic produce], but about half the voltage of a typical lithium-ion battery.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Every battery story starts out so promising and then ends in exactly the same way: Wah-wah.

However, as Dai says in the full article, the battery is in its early days,” so the promise remains.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “cococanuck” for the heads up.]


  1. Even though it is a battery in “research,” they have taken it far enough to know it can take 7500 charge cycles without loss of capacity, and now the hard part starts … getting capacity up by at least a factor of 6-10 to meet the competition and making it producable.

    3-4 years of work remains to find out if it can be a great battery if I guess right.

  2. It remains to be seen whether this technology actually delivers on it’s promises, but at the moment it sounds interesting.

    I have tremendous reservations about Lithium batteries being the power source for electric cars because there is only a limited amount of Lithium on the planet and we’re using it up at an ever increasing rate, while aluminium ( or bauxite ) is plentiful.

    A battery that re-charges in less time than it takes to drink a coffee is a very appealing proposition as it might make it practical to have extremely tiny devices that are convenient to recharge more than once a day.

    I haven’t seen any indications about how this aluminium battery might scale up or down over a range of sizes, but if it can provide a decent amount of power in a small and light form factor while retaining it’s charge in standby mode for a sensible time, it could be a very important development. Whether it ends up as a battery for portable devices, cars or for massive standby power sources remains to be seen.

  3. Must admit when I heard ‘Aluminium’ I couldn’t but help think why has no one seriously explored this material before as all things being equal it seems the ideal solution compared to the exotic stuff they have used instead. There has to be reasons for that and perhaps a few of those have already been hinted at above, but all told I will believe it when I see it in production I think. Until then just hope they can further develop and make it work in the real world.

    1. Super quick recharge can also overheat a battery and hence, the safety side of the battery & charger will be a key item to design into the systems.

      Just because you can charge super quick, does not mean a house has the service capacity to charge a battery as quickly as imagined.

  4. Our rational sides turn off pretty quickly when someone appeals to our desires.

    This really looks like venture capital bait more than a realistic battery solution. Let’s apply Ohm’s Law and related math to this latest battery miracle.

    A standard smartphone-type battery is about 3.7 volts at 1500 milliamp-hours. That means to charge it at 100% efficiency (no heat loss at all), we need to supply 1.5 amps at 3.7 volts for an hour. This is potentially possible. The current USB/Lightning-style connectors on our phones could carry that much current if the contacts met properly and were clean. Poor contact mating or some dirt, and the contacts will burn. Power equals current squared times resistance. Just one Ohm at the contacts will produce 2.25 watts–too much for the tiny surface area of a single micro-USB or Lightning contact.

    If we want to charge the same phone battery at 3.7 volts in a minute, we need to supply 90 amps (60 times 1.5 amps)–assuming perfect efficiency. This means you need a wire diameter of about 1/3 inch and a contact area about 1/3 inch square–assuming a good, clean contact. You’ll really want one double or triple that contact size. So, each of the two conductors of your charging cord is now about as thick as a pencil and your connector is bigger than the one you plug in the wall.

    But, we’re not going to get 100% efficiency. Let’s be generous and assume 70% efficiency. That’s makes more than 130 amps needed, pretty close to what it takes to start a small car, and that has to flow for a full minute. Plus, there’s all that heat to dissipate. Square that extra 30 amps and multiply the result by the internal resistance of the battery. Make sure your insurance is paid and your smoke detectors are working.

    But, there is a way around all this. If you just up the voltage to several hundred, you can get the current needed down to about an amp. You reduce the weight of your system because you can run that power through a cord not much bigger than the one you use now. The potential for arcing will force us to use different connectors with contacts farther apart. But, fire is less of a worry because you reduce the heat generated by the square of the difference in current. All you have to worry about now is the fatal shock hazard. Problem solved.

  5. If they can get half the power that is required for automotive use, or less, it would make electric car viable. Since the charge time for a car would be much shorter than current models. That is, provided the acutal charge time is less than ten minutes and cost effective – how could it not change the automovtive electric landscape?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.