News
 

Bookmark and Share

(0) 

Stanford University scientists have developed an advanced zinc-air battery with higher catalytic activity and durability than similar batteries made with costly platinum and iridium catalysts. The results could lead to the development of a low-cost alternative to conventional lithium-ion batteries widely used today.

"There have been increasing demands for high-performance, inexpensive and safe batteries for portable electronics, electric vehicles and other energy storage applications. Metal-air batteries offer a possible low-cost solution," said Hongjie Dai, a professor chemistry at Stanford and lead author of the study.

According to the professor, most attention has focused on lithium-ion batteries, despite their limited energy density (energy stored per unit volume), high cost and safety problems.

"With ample supply of oxygen from the atmosphere, metal-air batteries have drastically higher theoretical energy density than either traditional aqueous batteries or lithium-ion batteries," he said. "Among them, zinc-air is technically and economically the most viable option," said Mr. Dai.


This is a rechargeable zinc-oxide battery in a tri-electrode configuration with cobalt-oxide/carbon nanotube and iron-nickel/layered double hydroxide catalysts for charge and discharge, respectively.

Zinc-air batteries combine atmospheric oxygen and zinc metal in a liquid alkaline electrolyte to generate electricity with a byproduct of zinc oxide. When the process is reversed during recharging, oxygen and zinc metal are regenerated.

"Zinc-air batteries are attractive because of the abundance and low cost of zinc metal, as well as the non-flammable nature of aqueous electrolytes, which make the batteries inherently safe to operate. Primary (non-rechargeable) zinc-air batteries have been commercialized for medical and telecommunication applications with limited power density. However, it remains a grand challenge to develop electrically rechargeable batteries, with the stumbling blocks being the lack of efficient and robust air catalysts, as well as the limited cycle life of the zinc electrodes," explained Mr. Dai.

Active and durable electrocatalysts on the air electrode are required to catalyze the oxygen-reduction reaction during discharge and the oxygen-evolution reaction during recharge. In zinc-air batteries, both catalytic reactions are sluggish, according to the researcher.

Recently, Mr. Dai-led group of scientists at Stanford has developed a number of high-performance electrocatalysts made with non-precious metal oxide or nanocrystals hybridized with carbon nanotubes. These catalysts produced higher catalytic activity and durability in alkaline electrolytes than catalysts made with platinum and other precious metals.

"We found that similar catalysts greatly boosted the performance of zinc-air batteries, both primary and rechargeable. A combination of a cobalt-oxide hybrid air catalyst for oxygen reduction and a nickel-iron hydroxide hybrid air catalyst for oxygen evolution resulted in a record high-energy efficiency for a zinc-air battery, with a high specific energy density more than twice that of lithium-ion technology," said the professor.

The novel battery also demonstrated good reversibility and stability over long charge and discharge cycles over several weeks.

"This work could be an important step toward developing practical rechargeable zinc-air batteries, even though other challenges relating to the zinc electrode and electrolyte remain to be solved," concluded Mr. Dai.

Discussion

Comments currently: 0

Add your Comment




Latest News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

10:40 pm | ARM Preps Second-Generation “Artemis” and “Maya” 64-Bit ARMv8-A Offerings. ARM Readies 64-Bit Cores for Non-Traditional Applications

7:38 pm | AMD Vows to Introduce 20nm Products Next Year. AMD’s 20nm APUs, GPUs and Embedded Chips to Arrive in 2015

4:08 am | Microsoft to Unify All Windows Operating Systems for Client PCs. One Windows OS will Power PCs, Tablets and Smartphones

Monday, July 21, 2014

10:32 pm | PQI Debuts Flash Drive with Lightning and USB Connectors. PQI Offers Easy Way to Boost iPhone or iPad Storage

10:08 pm | Japan Display Begins to Mass Produce IPS-NEO Displays. JDI Begins to Mass Produce Rival for AMOLED Panels

12:56 pm | Microsoft to Fire 18,000 Employees to Boost Efficiency. Microsoft to Perform Massive Job Cut Ever Following Acquisition of Nokia