A major breakthrough in battery technology could accelerate the transition to renewable energy.

Zinc-air batteries have tremendous potential for grid-scale storage.
A major breakthrough in battery technology_0

Renewable Energy.

Researchers say they have discovered a way to make a highly efficient type of battery commercially viable on a massive scale, suggesting it could transform renewable energy.

Zinc-air batteries (ZABs) have high energy densities, making them popular in small devices like hearing aids, but they also hold tremendous potential for much larger applications such as grid-scale energy storage in renewable energy projects.

Until now, however, they have required either expensive components or materials that reduce their rechargeability, making them commercially less attractive compared to less energy-dense and more hazardous alternatives.

An international team from the University of Oxford, University College London, and Hunan University in China has overcome this limitation by designing a new catalyst and battery component that reduces costs and is flexible and stable enough to be used in wearable devices.

Huanxin Li, a research fellow in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford, said, “Rechargeable metal-air batteries, especially zinc-air batteries that offer cost-effectiveness and environmental friendliness with high theoretical energy densities, are promising power sources.”

Moreover, rechargeable ZABs are not only safe and stable but also portable and wearable.

Importantly, the catalyst developed by the researchers uses a non-precious metal, making it much cheaper and easier to produce.

Dr. Li said, “The development of low-cost and efficient bifunctional non-precious electrocatalysts is crucial for the commercialization of rechargeable ZABs.”

Among various non-precious catalysts, metal-nitrogen-carbon (M-N-C) nanomaterials are particularly noteworthy for their low cost, abundant reserves, excellent electrochemical activities, and high stabilities.

This major breakthrough in battery technology is detailed in a study published in the scientific journal Nano Research Energy, titled “Fe-Co-Ni ternary single-atom electrocatalyst and stable quasi-solid-electrolyte enabling high-efficiency zinc-air batteries.

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