RESEARCH COLLABORATIONS

University of Adelaide battery technology lands Chinese research deal

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New University of Adelaide battery technology will be developed by a Chinese manufacturer.


By U2B Staff 

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A Chinese battery manufacturer has committed AU$1 million (US$700 million) to develop a new battery technology designed and patented by the University of Adelaide.

The design incorporates the use of non-toxic zinc and manganese, two common metals in Australia, and incombustible aqueous electrolyte to create a battery with a high-energy density, according to Pace.

The technology has great use potential, particularly in sectors where the battery weight, size and safety are essential factors. This includes sectors like automotive and aerospace, in commercial and residential buildings and in grid-scale energy storage.

Its designers, Dr Dongliang Chao and Prof Shi-Zhang Qiao from the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials, said the battery can be used in vehicles of all sizes, from small scooters to even diesel-powered electric trains.

It can also be used in homes that need batteries to store solar power, or even on large solar/wind farms, they said.

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“With more sustainable energy being produced – such as through wind and solar farms – storing this energy in batteries in a safe, non-expensive and environmentally sound way is becoming more urgent but current battery materials – including lithium, lead and cadmium – are expensive, hazardous and toxic,” they are quoted saying in Pace.

Applicability aside, the professors said another winning feature of their electrolytic battery technology is that it is cost-effective.

“The battery uses basic materials and simple manufacturing processes so will be much cheaper to produce and easier to recycle than existing batteries of comparable energy density.”

The cost of producing the new electrolytic Zn–Mn battery is estimated at less than US$10 per kWh. 

This is significantly less than the cost of producing the current Li-ion batteries, which stands at something like US$ 300 per kWh, or the Ni–Fe batteries, which costs US$72 per kWh, or lead–acid batteries, which cost US$ 48 per kWh.

With its research deal, Chinese battery manufacturer Zhuoyue Power New Energy Ltd, whose current batteries are lead-based, hopes to have a product available within 12 months.

This project focusses on a combination of the new electrolytic battery technology and the company’s battery assembling technology.