Researchers say it’s a crucial step towards cheaper and more environmentally-friendly energy storage.
Scientists have created the world’s first rechargeable proton battery, a crucial step towards cheaper and more environmentally-friendly energy storage.
While the battery is just a small-scale prototype, it has the potential to be competitive with currently available lithium-ion batteries.
The rechargeable battery, created by researchers at RMIT university in Melbourne, uses carbon and water instead of lithium.
The lead researcher Professor John Andrews said that as the world moved towards renewables, there would be a significant need for storage technologies that relied on cheap and abundant materials.
The RMIT-developed proton battery connected to a voltmeter
The RMIT-developed proton battery connected to a voltmeter. Photograph: RMIT “Lithium-ion batteries are great but they rely on ultimately scarce and expensive resources,” he said. “Hydro is also a good technology but suitable sites are limited and the cost may be very high.
“The advantage is we’re going to be storing protons in a carbon-based material, which is abundant, and we are getting protons from water which is readily available.”
The battery itself produces no carbon emissions and it can store electricity from zero-emissions renewables.
Andrews said it could be commercially available within five to 10 years.
“When it is commercially available, it would be a competitor to the Tesla Powerwall and then eventually we’d hope we might find applications at the scale of the huge Tesla battery [in South Australia] and even larger.”