Stanford University scientists are looking to the past to answer the present’s need for energy storage technologies, by upgrading a rechargeable nickel-iron battery technology developed a century ago.
Not only is the nickel-iron battery relatively inexpensive, the Stanford team has added carbon into the mix to increase the electrical conductivity of the electrodes, overcoming the technology’s traditional obstacle of long charging time.
The scientists’ addition of graphene and carbon nanotubes to the make-up of the battery’s electrodes was found to have resulted in an increase in the speed by which electrical charges moved between electrodes, giving the battery a faster charging and discharge rate.
Using their new electrodes, the team has developed a 1-volt prototype battery that can be fully charged in about 2 minutes and discharged in less than 30 seconds. This is just enough power to operate a flashlight and by scaling up the technology, it could soon be used to store renewable energy or for transportation.
The researchers are also looking to improve on the battery’s long-term performance and ability to hold charge over time by slowing down or eliminating the rate of decay.
The updated version from Stanford is also seen as an alternative to lithium-ion batteries.
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