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Lithium-ion batteries finally have a rechargeable competitor

Ford worker preps car batteries.


The rise of electric vehicles and the quest to find solutions to
energy storage for the renewables industry have created a
breeding ground for tech experts to develop battery technologies.

Last week, Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy and the company
he currently backs, Ionic Materials, unveiled a solid-state alkaline battery design
that they claim would be cheaper and safer than the lithium-ion

“What people didn’t really realize is that alkaline batteries
could be made rechargeable,” Joy told Bloomberg in a phone
interview last week. “I think people had given up,” Joy noted.

The three main possible applications of the new alkaline battery
technology would be consumer electronics, electric cars, and
energy storage for the power grid, according to the developers.

However, also according to Joy, the company just has the
material, and the technology is not ready to go commercial right
away. The rechargeable alkaline battery technology could be ready
for commercial use within five years, Joy told Bloomberg, adding
that Ionic Materials didn’t have a factory to manufacture the

The prototype designs have demonstrated up to 400 recharge cycles
for the alkaline battery, and Ionic Materials believes that the
number of recharge cycles could be tripled, the New York Times

On the downside, apart from uncertain commercial future, is the
fact that Ionic’s first alkaline batteries would be heavier than
the lithium-ion batteries today.

Alkaline batteries mostly use zinc and manganese.

Ionic Materials has made progress toward developing a design for
an alkaline battery that would use cheaper aluminum instead of
zinc, Joy told the NYT. Aluminum-based alkaline designs could
potentially weigh less than lithium-ion designs and could be
cheaper than the…

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