Michigan Tech’s scientists have put together a different device, the asymmetric capacitor, that’s half battery, but half not. Unlike most rechargeable batteries that typically use metallic nickel, the Michigan device uses carbon foam—a super cheap and light material—instead. Carbon foam is so light and full of air that 72% of it is just empty space, and this makes it perfect for the battery chemicals to seep inside.
The team has been testing prototypes and have managed over 127,000 cycles of the battery (charge, discharge and repeat) and they’ve not been able to wear them out yet…which means they hugely overperform against existing battery technology. And for battery-powered heavy machinery, which can require some enormous batteries, the light carbon foam also means the batteries are lighter, which has lots of benefits in their use, in the design of products, and also in terms of transporting thousands of them. Add to that the fact that we can make this carbon foam from biological sources, which means it could be quite a bit more sustainable than mining nickel.
Exciting news! Rechargeable batteries that are much lighter and can be used indefinitely