Newer, Safer, Batteries

New batteries could revolutionize the battery industry.


By: Tiger Deng, Journalist

Nowadays, everybody uses electricity, so everyone needs a way to store that electricity. Currently, we use large amounts of lithium-ion batteries, which in their miniature state are those AA batteries found in all sorts of electronic appliances. However, these lithium-ion batteries are expensive and flammable, which produces a hazardous safety risk, especially in transportation.

However, a MIT professor named Donald Sadoway ,along with several others,  released a paper showing how  aluminum-sulfur batteries could replace lithium-ion batteries. “I wanted to invent something that was better, much better, than lithium-ion batteries for small-scale stationary storage, and ultimately for automotive [uses],” Sadoway said.

Sadoway looked into the periodic table to find an abundant and cheap metal that could reliably and safely replace lithium. He saw that the second most abundant metal in the market and the most abundant metal on Earth was aluminum. He then put it together with the cheapest non-metal he could find: sulfur.

For the electrolyte, he used a combination of molten salts that have low melting points around the boiling point of water, much lower than the nearly 1000 degrees Fahrenheit for many other salts. Because of this, these batteries don’t need special insulation or anti-corrosion measures.

What is even better is that these batteries don’t need an external heat source to maintain their operating temperature. The heat is naturally generated by the charging and discharging of the battery to store and use the electricity.


Sadoway and one of his students have created a company called Avanti that holds the patents to the new battery system.  “The first order of business for the company is to demonstrate that it works at scale,” Sadoway concluded.

If it does, then it could revolutionize how we store energy and could make renewables truly viable.