Talk about cheaper, longer range batteries! A new battery technology that could significantly reduce the price of electric cars and home battery systems has taken a major step towards commercialization.

South Australian researchers from the University of Adelaide have secured a $1 million research contract. All with a Chinese battery manufacturer to develop the new technology and bring it to market within 12 months.

The patented design uses non-toxic zinc and manganese. The two metals are not only abundant in Australia, but incombustible. It uses aqueous electrolyte to produce the high-energy density battery.

The researchers estimate the cost of this new electrolytic Zn–Mn battery to be less than $10 per kWh. That’s compared to $300 per kWh for current Li-ion batteries, $72 per kWh for Ni–Fe batteries and $48 per kWh for Lead–acid batteries.

The battery is designed by Dr Dongliang Chao and Professor Shi-Zhang Qiao from the University of Adelaide’s School of Chemical Engineering and Advanced Materials.

% Green Living Guru%Electric Care ExpertElectric vehicles such as the ZED70 – the first electric ute engineered in Australia – could benefit from the cheaper zinc manganese batteries. Photo courtesy of David Karaduman.

Dr Chao said, although there were other Zn-Mn batteries on the market such as the dry cell, they were not rechargeable or recyclable and did not present high-energy density due to a different chemical reaction mechanism.

The cheaper, longer range batteries are high-energy, safe batteries that open up markets. Especially where the battery weight, size and safety are essential factors. Not to mention the importance of grid-scale energy storage, automotive, aerospace and even domestic and commercial buildings.

With sustainable energy growing, wind and solar farms need to store the energy in batteries. Crucially, in a safe non-expensive and environmentally sound way. Most importantly, due to current battery materials including lithium, lead and cadmium which are expensive, hazardous and toxic.

Dr Chao and Professor Qiao began working on the project in South Australia about 12 months ago. They patented the technology at the beginning of this year. Zhuoyue Power New Energy Ltd is a Chinese battery manufacturer who produces lead-based batteries. But, the company has decided to committed $1 million to develop the new technology.

South Australia not only hosts the World Solar Challenge, but has the largest lithium-ion battery in the world. Therefore, both Australia and China while manufacture the batteries.

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This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia

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