The demand for batteries for electric vehicles such as private, public and commercial transportation (cars, buses, trucks) is increasing, and people are beginning to develop aluminum-ion batteries to meet demand. Electric vehicles require a lot of power to operate normally, and thus have high requirements on batteries, which must enable rapid and vigorous electrochemical reactions to drive external power (such as motors, electronic equipment, etc.). However, such reactions in turn cause great mechanical stress and thermal stress on the battery. While current battery technology uses liquids as electrolytes, such media facilitates the transport of ions from one electrode to another, but such electrolytes are composed of organic molecules that are highly flammable and volatile. As a result, the electric vehicle battery is exposed to a high risk of explosion, fire, exhaust or malfunction.
Syracuse University has developed a new type of solid electrolyte to replace the liquid electrolytes in current aluminum-ion batteries, enabling them to meet demanding applications such as automobiles. The electrolyte consists of a very soft polymer and a very hard epoxy which also penetrates the aluminum ions, while the epoxy provides thermal stability and durability. The polymer is converted to an aluminum ion electrolyte by dissolving an aluminum salt, such as aluminum nitrate, into the polymer matrix.
Currently, Syracuse University is actively working on the manufacture of all-solid-state aluminum-ion batteries, all of which are solid-state, including electrolytes, which will help integrate aluminum-ion batteries into demanding applications such as automobiles.
Aluminum-ion batteries are promising next-generation battery technologies that can meet future energy delivery needs, with the same structure as lithium ions, except that lithium is replaced by aluminum. Aluminum is the third richest element in the earth's crust and a very inexpensive substitute for lithium metal. The battery made of aluminum has the highest voltage, can store the most energy, and provides the highest current, its storage capacity is four times that of lithium-ion batteries, and it carries three times the charge of lithium-ion batteries.
While lithium accounts for only 0.7% of the earth's crust, there is growing concern about whether lithium-ion batteries can meet the world's growing demand, and its rising cost and high scarcity are forcing people to find and develop more viable alternatives. Aluminum-ion batteries may be the next-generation storage technology in the post-lithium-ion battery era.
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