Swiss Zinc-Air Batteries Store Three Times the Energy of Lithium Ions


A Swiss company has introduced a rechargeable zinc-air battery that has three times the storage of lithium ion batteries and costs only half as much.

ReVolt plans to commercialize a small version of the battery for use in hearing aids by next year, and then continue introducing larger versions, including batteries for cellphones and electric bicycles — and, perhaps eventually, electric cars.

The technology is based on a battery designed by the Norwegian research institute SINTEF.

While the typical battery contains the reactants needed to generate electricity, zinc-air batteries utilize oxygen from the atmosphere, which makes them less volatile and allows for a larger storage capacity.

Company officials say the new battery overcomes one of the critical drawbacks of typical zinc-air batteries — they tend to stop working after a few charges. ReVolt has developed techniques to reduce the damage to the electrodes that convert oxygen into the hydroxyl ions that oxidize the zinc. The prototype lasts for more than 100 recharge cycles, according to James McDougal, ReVolt’s CEO. He hopes to increase that to 300 to 500 cycles before the technology is ready to be used in cellphones and electric bicycles.

Article appearing courtesy of Yale Environment 360

[photo credit: ReVolt]

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