Super batteries from aluminum? Georgia Tech researchers are on it!

A solid-state battery built in Matthew McDowell's laboratory at Georgia Tech. Credit: Georgia Institute of Technology

You know how frustrating it is when your phone battery dies just when you’re in the middle of an intense game or call?

Imagine if that happened to an electric car or even an airplane! Scientists have been working hard to create batteries that last longer and are safer.

For many years, a type of battery called lithium-ion has been the go-to choice for powering our everyday gadgets like smartphones and laptops, as well as electric cars.

But there’s a problem: researchers are starting to find the limits of lithium-ion batteries. So, they’re on the lookout for something even better!

Enter a team of researchers from the Georgia Institute of Technology, led by a cool dude named Matthew McDowell. They’re trying to create better batteries using aluminum foil. Yes, that stuff you use to wrap up leftovers!

Aluminum is pretty cheap, really easy to recycle, and it’s simple to work with, making it a strong candidate for batteries.

But there’s a twist: people already tried using aluminum for batteries in the 1970s, and it was a flop. The aluminum kept breaking and failing after a few charges and recharges.

The Georgia Tech team, however, aren’t giving up that easily. They’re working with a new kind of battery technology called solid-state batteries.

Unlike lithium-ion batteries, which use a flammable liquid, solid-state batteries use a solid material that isn’t flammable, making them safer. These batteries also allow for the use of different materials that can make the battery perform better.

In their quest for a better battery, the researchers teamed up with a company called Novelis, the world’s largest aluminum recycler.

They knew that using aluminum could make batteries cheaper, and even more powerful, but they had to solve the problem of it breaking too easily.

So, they got creative. Instead of just using pure aluminum, they mixed in tiny amounts of different materials to create special kinds of aluminum foils. After testing over 100 different combinations, they finally found one that worked well in solid-state batteries.

Their new and improved aluminum battery can store more energy than regular batteries, which is great news for anyone dreaming of electric planes or super long-range electric cars. Not only are these aluminum batteries better, but they’re also cheaper to make.

Currently, they’re working on making these batteries bigger and are looking at other materials they could use. Their big idea?

Aluminum foil batteries could be a game-changer, opening the door to better, safer, and cheaper batteries. Now, that’s what we call energizing news!

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