Zinc-air scores a win in the battery wars with new recharge breakthrough
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With battery use now a central tenet of the global energy transition, investors are staying on the lookout for key developments in battery technology.
Lithium-ion batteries are the most prevalent in the expansion of new sectors such as electric vehicles.
But there are a number of competitors in various stages of testing and development, including zinc-air batteries — a technology first developed at the University of Sydney.
Zinc-air batteries are lighter and are made of more sustainable materials than other batteries.
The technology generates power from the chemical reaction caused by combining zinc with oxygen with a liquid electrolyte, and can be deployed in small devices (hearing aids) as well as large batteries (electric vehicles).
However, a key limitation in the initial design using the electrolyte is that they weren’t rechargeable, because the process couldn’t be run backwards.
But according to a report in Science Mag, researchers in Germany have tweaked the input method by using an electrolyte that contains water-resistant ions.
As a result, the reaction between the zinc and oxygen can take place backwards and forwards.
Over 160 hours, the scientists were able to drain and recharge a zinc-air battery 320 times using the new technology.
Removing liquid also means the battery’s electrodes aren’t degraded as fast, increasing its lifespan.
Amid the global energy transition, lithium-ion batteries have established the early advantage — with plenty of associated opportunities for ASX-listed battery metals plays.
But as battery power becomes increasingly important, economies globally will be staying on the lookout for developments in new types of technology.
ASX-listed Australian Vanadium (ASX:AVL) last year chalked up its first customer for its vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) system, which are generally considered to be longer-lasting than lithium-ion systems.
And in December, listed battery maker Redflow (ASX:RFX) commenced the Gen3 customer trial of its zinc-bromine flow battery technology.
At Stockhead, we tell it like it is. While Australian Vanadium is a Stockhead advertiser, it did not sponsor this article.