Batteries that never run out?

Batteries that never run out? New material developed in Cambridge

Is it the end of the line for traditional batteries?

Comments (1)A new thin-film electrolyte material that could pave the way for the next generation of high-performance super batteries has been developed.

The new material, co-invented by Professor Judith Driscoll, Dr Shinbuhm Lee and their team at Cambridge University’s department of materials science and metallurgy, helps solid oxide fuel cells operate more efficiently and cheaply than those composed of conventional materials.

Solid oxide fuel cells are comprised of a cathode and anode with an electrolyte material sandwiched between them. The electrolyte transports oxygen ions from the cathode to the anode, thus generating an electric charge. Compared to conventional batteries, fuel cells have the potential to run indefinitely, if supplied by a source of fuel such as hydrogen or a hydrocarbon, and a source of oxygen.

“The ability to precisely engineer and tune highly crystalline materials at the nanoscale is absolutely key for next-generation power generation and storage of many different kinds,” said Professor Driscoll.


“Our new methods and understanding have allowed us to exploit the very special properties of nanomaterials in a practical and stable thin-film configuration, resulting in a much improved oxygen ion conducting material.”

It is thought the potential applications for this technology in portable power sources could include electronic consumer or medical devices, as well as those that need uninterruptable power supplies such as military or civilian vehicles.

“With low power requirements and low levels of polluting emissions, these fuel cells offer an environmentally attractive solution for many power source applications,” said Dr Charlanne Ward, a senior technology associate with Cambridge Enterprise, the commercialisation arm of the University of Cambridge, which is managing a patent that was filed in the US.

“This opportunity has the potential to revolutionise the power supply problem of portable electronics, by improving both the energy available from the power source and safety, compared with today’s battery solutions.”

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