A group of researchers in Stanford University has discovered a new way to revive the century old low cost nickel-iron batteries into an ultrafast rechargeable batteries that can have an edge with the lithium-iron batteries in the future.
Nickel-Iron batteries (invented by Thomas Edison more then 100 years ago) are very durable but suffer from very slow charge and discharge times. They are used today mostly to store power from wind and solar devices.
GRAPHENE USED TO ENHANCE NICKEL-IRON BATTERIES
In recent studies, the Stanford Researchers Hongjie Dai and Hailiang Wang made the durable nickel-iron batteries’ charging time and discharge rate to be a thousand times faster by using graphene as a conducive substance used to enhance Nickel-Iron batteries. Graphene is a chemical made up of an atom thick of sheets of carbon lattice that has a remarkable electronic and mechanical properties. The newly improved graphene enhanced batteries have a charging time of 2 minutes and a discharge rate of 30 seconds according to an article in the Nature Communications journal.
According to Wang, the lead researcher and author in the Stanford University, the technique was to grow nancrystals of the anode iron onto the wonder substance graphene and nanocrystals of the cathode nickel into nanotubes of carbon instead of mixing altogether the nickel hydroxide, iron oxide and the graphene. This method builds stronger bonds with the metals nickel-iron and the carbon allowing the current to move faster between the electrical circuit and the electrodes.
The researchers have proposed further studies of the graphene enhanced nickel iron batteries for future use in electric automobiles. As for the moment, they have created a one volt prototype battery that is enough to power a flashlight. A battery with greater voltage that is big enough to operate transportations such as automobiles is their next goal in line since the modern electric cars have been using lithium ion batteries that despite their higher cost as compared to the cheaper graphene enhanced nickel-iron batteries, takes a lot of time to charge. Wang also said that the substances nickel, iron and carbon made graphene are environment friendly. The only drawback for the recent study is that it has not yet achieved a charge- discharge stability that the group desired.