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Stanford scientists create ultrafast battery based on Thomas Edison’s nickel-iron device

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Stanford scientists have coupled Thomas Edison’s nickel-iron battery, developed in the early 1900s, with carbon substrate, which dramatically improved the conduction of electricity. The team boosted the charging and discharging rate by almost 1,000 times. The battery takes just 2 minutes to get fully charged and less than 30 seconds to discharge. Edison’s vision for the future electric vehicles seems to have found its destination perhaps. The nickel-iron battery has a great advantage that both the elements are in abundance on earth, which makes it inexpensive too. Moreover, the much-debated issue of toxic chemicals in the lead-acid batteries might find a solution through the new enhanced nickel-iron batteries.

The nickel- iron battery is composed of a nickel cathode and an iron anode, immersed in an alkaline solution. Alkaline solution uses potassium hydroxide, which is much safer and cheaper. Stanford team exploited the capability of carbon to boost electrical conductivity in electrodes and to accomplish that they used nanosized sheets of carbon, 1-atom thick, and multi-walled carbon nanotubes.

However, the team accepts that there are a few serious drawbacks of these batteries, which make it difficult for them to power electric vehicle by themselves. The density of nickel-iron battery is not ideal for that purpose and even otherwise, the battery looses it’s capacity of holding charge after sometime. But these batteries can boost the lithium-ion batteries for faster acceleration and regenerative braking. Moreover, the ability of the new ultrafast nickel-iron battery to charge quickly, would be a great help for emergency devices used in military operations or in any other situation where one require a quick charge.

Presently, the Stanford team have only 1-volt device as a prototype of the new battery, but definitely, they would be aiming to find solution for the drawbacks and fulfill the vision of great Thomas Edison.

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