However, that is not where its advantages end – rechargeable Zn-air batteries have high energy capacity, are flexible, lightweight, affordable, and safe.
As electrical devices evolve, so too must the batteries that power them – and Zinc batteries are fulfilling a unique capability that its counterparts aren’t – flexibility.
Zinc is in high abundance and is proving to be a safe and low-cost element compared to lithium and sodium. Zn-air batteries are already commercially available and are used as coin cells in watches and hearing aids. However, making Zn-air batteries rechargeable is what the Battery Research and Innovation Hub is hoping to unlock.
Rechargeable Zn-air batteries are proving to have large theoretical energy density due to its active material being oxygen. This combination of zinc and oxygen make the manufacturing of these devices feasible for large-grid scale energy storage systems and, potentially, fast-charging electric vehicles.
But in addition to this, rechargeable Zn-air batteries make excellent candidates in flexible electronic devices that are light weight are require long-term power supply, such as small drones.
Rechargeable Zn-air batteries have been a challenge in large part due to the lack of a compatible electrolyte that can simultaneously support both the long-term cycling of Zn metal at the anode and the oxygen cathode.
However, our researchers at the Battery Research and Innovation Hub have made enormous contributions in developing electrolytes that show excellent compatibility with the zinc anode.
Our research has uncovered a low-cost, environmentally friendly, non-aqueous electrolyte to support long-term cycling of zinc, making them promising candidates for rechargeable Zn-air batteries.
And now with the prototyping capabilities at the Battery Technology Research and Innovation Hub, researchers can tap into more than 150 channels for advanced battery testing, and prototype rechargeable zinc-air devices with enhanced efficiency and cycle life.
Our work in rechargeable Zn-air batteries has already garnered interest from our commercial partner, Ionic Industries, and now together we are looking to develop a rechargeable Zn-air batteries technology platform using graphene technologies.
Benefits: Zinc is a safe and low-cost element for battery technology. Zn-air batteries are light weight, flexible, longer lasting and have large energy density.
Applications: Zn-air batteries are used in watches and hearing aids. Rechargeable Zn-air batteries have the potential for large-grid scale energy storage systems, electric cars, flexible electronic devices such as small drones.