Battery Chemistry Review – Can lithium continue to dominate? – by Lara Smith ( – March 16, 2018)

Although the technology was discovered at the beginning of the 20th century, the first lithium batteries didn’t make it to market until the 70s, and it was a series of breakthroughs in the early 80s that cemented it as the market leading product it is today.

Lithium (and cobalt / graphite / nickel / manganese) cells replaced lead acid as the foremost battery chemistry simply because lithium has the lightest weight, highest voltage, and greatest energy density of all metals (why is a bubble round?); nevertheless, its relative scarcity and recent price escalation has some manufacturers shopping for alternatives.

The expansion of energy storage capacity is undoubtedly a societal necessity for the foreseeable future, but with extensive R&D in this area being a constant force for change, there is no reason to expect a single type of device to dominate the market indefinitely.

On March 7th, researchers at RMIT University in Australia announced that they had cracked a new type of battery chemistry that they have termed the “Proton Battery”, which rivals the current lithium-ion setup even before optimization.

The working prototype uses a carbon-based electrode to store hydrogen, coupled with a reversible fuel cell to produce electricity. The carbon in the electrode bonds with protons generated when charging by splitting water assisted by electrons from the power supply.

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