Copper battery performs better than lithium

Stanford University scientists have made high performance batteries using copper, not lithium, that cost less and perform better.

The findings by Colin D. Wessells, Robert A. Huggins and Yi Cui were published in Nature Communications in late November. The researchers made the batteries out of copper nanoparticles.

Finding low cost batteries are the missing piece in making renewable energy feasible for modern energy consumption. Energy from wind and solar sources needs to be stored when those energy sources go offline.

“Stationary energy storage systems that can operate for many cycles, at high power, with high round-trip energy efficiency, and at low cost are required,” writes the study’s authors.

“Existing energy storage technologies cannot satisfy these requirements. Here we show that crystalline nanoparticles of copper hexacyanoferrate, which has an ultra-low strain open framework structure, can be operated as a battery electrode in inexpensive aqueous electrolytes.”

The scientists recorded impressive discharge cycle rates all at room temperature.

“After 40,000 deep discharge cycles at a 17 C rate, 83% of the original capacity of copper hexacyanoferrate is retained.”

At this rate, Wessells said the batteries will be long-lived.

“At a rate of several cycles per day, this electrode would have a good 30 years of useful life on the electrical grid,” said Wessells in an interview with Stanford University News.