Quick question – if you had to choose, would you rather have batteries that have a larger capacity, or would you rather have batteries that charge full in a shorter amount of time? If you answered the latter, you’re in luck because it seems that researchers at Stanford University have developed a new battery that they claim will recharge to full in a minute.

Not only are these batteries supposedly quicker to charge, but they are also safer than their lithium-ion counterparts thus making them more ideal for use in consumer products ranging from mobile devices to even powering our airplanes. This is thanks to the use of aluminum-ion cells which are not only cheaper, but they also offer higher performance, and are less prone to bursting into flames or exploding when damaged, something lithium-ion batteries tend to do.

That being said the use of aluminum-ions aren’t new. In fact such batteries have been thought of before, but the main question was how to commercialize it which according to Dai Hongjie, a professor of chemistry at Stanford, turned out to be the use of graphite. This resulted in a battery that is capable of surviving 7,500 charging cycles without losing its performance, and also outlasting existing aluminum-ion batteries which apparently are good for an average of 100 cycles.

So does that mean we can start to see aluminum-ion batteries used in our products in the near future? Not so fast. The issue now is that the prototype developed produces about 2 volts which is less than the 3.6 volts produced by lithium-ion batteries. Its energy density is also lower at 40 watts per kilogram versus the 100-260 watts per kilogram from lithium-ion, however Dai believes that this is something they can overcome.

According to Dai, “Improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage and energy density. Otherwise, our battery has everything else you’d dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility and long cycle life. I see this as a new battery in its early days. It’s quite exciting.

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