Skip to content
Energy, Engineering

A major boost for clean energy storage: prolonging aqueous zinc battery rechargeability

UNSW Sydney 3 mins read

Researchers from UNSW have developed a cutting-edge and scalable solution to overcome the rechargeability challenges of aqueous rechargeable zinc battery (AZB) technology.

The innovation can potentially redefine energy storage for homes and grids, emphasising safety, cost-effectiveness, extended life cycle, and robust power capability.

The team of researchers from the School of Chemical Engineering, Yuan Shang, Dr. Priyank Kumar, and Dr. Dipan Kundu, say the new technology could be a safer and cheaper alternative to lithium-ion batteries, which have been cited as the cause of a number of dangerous fires recently.

Their work, published in the Advanced Materials journal, helps to solve a major problem with the AZB technology in that the ability to recharge has so far proven to be limited due to the amount of corrosion suffered by the battery’s zinc metal electrode.

Dr Kundu and his team spent three years working on the solution, which is the introduction of a very small concentration (1 volume%) of non-toxic additive molecules in the battery electrolyte, which addresses the corrosion issue and effectively reduces the dendritic zinc deposits that otherwise short-circuit the battery cell.

This innovative solution preserves the aqueous nature of the electrolyte, maintaining cost and safety benefits.

The outcome is a 5- 20 times improvement in the battery cycle life under conditions suitable for beyond-lab-scale development, equivalent to pushing the lifetime from a few months to over three years.

The team demonstrated about 1 unit (1 kWh) of electricity storage per 30 kg weight (or ~30 Wh/kg) using small pouch-type cells and can achieve the same storage per 16 kg weight (~60 Wh/kg) in a further scaled-up setup with a high-voltage cathode.

These results are approaching that of competing Li-ion systems and the researchers aim to make further developments given the promise of their tests so far.

Dr. Kundu said: “The AZB technology can be implemented as energy storage systems at various scales, from small-scale residential/commercial and medium-scale community storage units to large-scale grid-level installations.

“Other than remote/off-grid power systems, data centres, backup power systems in the industries, e-bikes are some of the applications to which the AZB technology can be extended.

“A safe and affordable AZB technology will accelerate renewable energy integration, enable smart grid technologies for better management of energy distribution, load balancing, and demand response, support the establishment of microgrids powered by renewable energy sources for remote communities, and may provide a cost-effective and reliable storage option for industries like mining, construction, and telecommunications.”

Addressing current lithium-ion problems

While lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have disrupted industries, concerns about their cost, supply and demand imbalance, scarcity of raw materials resources, and safety have prompted a search for alternatives.

Cost and fire risks are amongst the biggest challenges for the widespread application of LIBs in renewable/stationary storage.

AZBs that use an aqueous salt solution electrolyte emerge as promising alternatives due to safety, raw material abundance, affordability, and competitive energy densities.

The use of the high-capacity metallic zinc anode gives AZBs an energy density boost, and its safe chemistry means it is potentially fully recyclable. Ambient manufacturing is another significant advantage.

The UNSW team continues to work on developing the zinc anode, cathode, and cell components toward developing battery cell prototypes. It is estimated that a fully developed technology would cost consumers around one-third to one-fourth the price of the present-day Li-ion systems.

The team has applied for a patent on the new technology and is actively seeking funding to develop a spin-off focused on commercial development.  

****

For more information, or to speak with a member of the research team, please contact:
Diana Merlot
Engagement & Communications Officer, UNSW Engineering
d.merlot@unsw.edu.au


Key Facts:

As the world seeks cleaner energy solutions, the aqueous zinc battery technology breakthrough developed at UNSW Sydney promises a sustainable and resilient energy future.


Contact details:

Diana Merlot
Engagement & Communications Officer, UNSW Engineering
d.merlot@unsw.edu.au

More from this category

  • Engineering
  • 04/03/2024
  • 11:30
UNSW

Celebrating sustainability research for World Engineering Day

On this year’s World Engineering Day, we celebrate engineers at UNSW whose research is helping create a more sustainable world. Engineers have helped solve some of the world’s most wicked problems. Now more than ever, countries and organisations are concerned about their human impact on the natural world. Investments in sustainable technologies, infrastructure, and practices not only mitigate environmental risks but also drive innovation, create jobs, and protect communities. World Engineering Day is an annual celebration of engineering and the contribution of the world’s engineers for a better, sustainable world. First announced by UNESCO in 2019, World Engineering Day is…

  • Energy, Government Federal
  • 01/03/2024
  • 15:51
RE-Alliance

RE-Alliance calls for governments to invest in building trust for Australia’s clean energy shift

Friday 1 March 2024 Today’s response by the Energy and Climate Ministerial Council to Andrew Dyer’s Community Engagement Review means Australia can move forward in securing an energy transformation that delivers long-term benefits to regional Australia. RE-Alliance is an independent community-based organisation working with regions navigating renewable energy projects for more than a decade. Andrew Bray, National Director of RE-Alliance, said he supports the recommendations in the Review to better communicate with and involve local communities, but stressed more concrete and ambitious actions are required. “State and Federal governments are spending billions to attract investment in renewable energy, but a…

  • Energy
  • 01/03/2024
  • 15:44
Smart Energy Council

Media Alert: News Diaries March 6-7 2024

March 1 2024 Smart Energy Council President Sam Craft will officially launch the Smart Energy 2024 conference in Sydney next week, followed by a media conference. Smart Energy 2024 maps out how renewables will transform Australia, provide energy security, future jobs and play a critical part in keeping living costs down. The conference brings together the entire renewables industry including; manufacturers, distributors, project developers, financiers and decision-makers. World-leading Australian and International solar, battery storage and electric vehicle companies will showcase the latest in smart energy technology. WHO: Speakers include: Chris Bowen – Minister for Climate Change and Energy Allegra Spender…

Media Outreach made fast, easy, simple.

Feature your press release on Medianet's News Hub every time you distribute with Medianet. Pay per release or save with a subscription.