Researchers from Empa and ETH Zürich have used graphene, waste graphite and scrap metal to make low-cost batteries.
The researchers’ ambitious goal at Empa is to make a battery out of the most common elements in the Earth’s crust – such as magnesium or aluminum. These metals offer a high degree of safety, even if the anode is made of pure metal. This also offers the opportunity to assemble the batteries in a very simple and inexpensive way and to rapidly upscale the production. To make such batteries work, the liquid electrolyte needs to consist of special ions that do not crystallize at room temperature. The researchers were looking for a suitable cathode material, and decided to turn the principle of the lithium ion battery upside down.