In search for new batteries

In search for new batteries

The question of the sustainability of lithium-ion batteries is controversial: The high demand for raw materials worsens their environmental balance; mining conditions, non-transparent supply chains and the unresolved issue of recycling are also arguments put forward against the lithium-ion battery. The exact raw material consumption of these battery systems varies between the different battery types. In addition to lithium, which at around 5 percent accounts for only a small proportion of the total weight of rechargeable batteries, raw materials used in lithium-ion batteries include copper, aluminum, nickel, graphite, and cobalt, which is also the subject of critical debate. Efforts are therefore being made to develop technologies that require as few problematic raw materials as possible. 

So even if there is no threat of a lithium shortage for the time being, it seems appropriate to look for alternatives for commercial battery systems. In 2006, vanadium redox flow batteries were already commercialized as an alternative in the stationary sector. These batteries are characterized by a high cycle stability. The disadvantage of these battery systems is the relatively complex construction, as storage tanks and pumping systems are required. More recently, calcium and sodium-ion batteries have also appeared on the market. 

The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Systems and Device Technology (IISB) has been researching aluminum-ion batteries for the past 5 years. The research results now form the starting point for the "Albatros" research consortium, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, in which the Dechema Institute from Frankfurt am Main, Iolitec GmbH from Heilbronn and the Institute for Inorganic Chemistry at the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg are cooperating with the IISB. Even though production readiness is still in the distant future, the results from previous Fraunhofer IISB studies are promising. The charging efficiency of the aluminum-ion batteries was still 90 percent after 10,000 cycles, and the charging speed in test trials is also in a promising range at just 30 seconds. Graphite can also be used as an electrode instead of the rare raw materials cobalt, manganese or nickel. 


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pv-magazine, article by Stephan Franz (11/29/2019):

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