Startup Unveils Revolutionary New Rechargeable Alkaline Batteries
Alkaline batteries can be made far more cheaply and safely than today’s lithium-ion batteries, but they are not rechargeable. That issue, along with the superior power of lithium-ion batteries, has meant that alkaline batteries are not used in personal computers, smartphones or electric vehicles.
Ionic could change that equation with an alkaline battery the company said could be recharged hundreds of times. One additional benefit of the company’s breakthrough: An alkaline battery would not be as prone to the combustion issues that have plagued lithium-ion batteries in a range of products, most notably some Samsung smartphones.
Cheaper and more powerful batteries are also considered by many to be the driver needed to make the cost of renewable energy technologies like wind and solar competitive with the coal, gas and nuclear power that support the national energy grid.
Ionic said it had developed prototypes of a rechargeable alkaline battery that can be made using continuous manufacturing processes similar to the making of plastic wrap. So far, the company, which is backed by William Joy, a pioneering Silicon Valley computer designer, has demonstrated up to 400 recharge cycles for its prototypes. Ionic executives say they believe they will be able to triple that.
The alkaline batteries that Ionic has developed would initially be heavier than today’s lithium-ion batteries, said Mike Zimmerman, a materials scientist who is the founder and chief executive of Ionic. But the new batteries would more than compensate for that handicap with their cost advantage and, in time, their ability to store more energy.