There is a chance that the era of expensive lithium-ion batteries which are used commonly in the smartphones might be ending soon. Since their introduction in the 90s, the lithium-ion batteries have seen a huge era of dominance. A group of researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne have created the world’s first rechargeable proton battery which uses carbon and water instead of lithium in it. Since it uses readily available and sustainable materials, this proton battery is much more environment-friendly and can also store more energy than the current lithium-ion batteries.
The lead researcher of RMIT team, John Andrews said, that lithium-ion batteries are indeed great but they are still an insufficient source of electricity and at a higher cost. Similarly, hydro is also a good tech but it requires some suitable sites and can also cost enough. On the other hand, he said that proton batteries are the future for hand-held devices. He said, “Powering batteries with protons has the potential to be more economical than using lithium ions, which are made from scarce resources. Carbon, which is the primary resource used in our proton battery, is abundant and cheap compared to both metal hydrogen-storage alloys, and the lithium needed for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries.”
The rechargeable batteries use a carbon electrode which stores hydrogen with a reversible fuel that produces electricity. When the battery is turned on, the protons go back through the reversible fuel cell and produce water. The water then combines with oxygen to generate power. So far only a small-scale prototype of the batteries have been developed and the commercial availability cannot happen until next 5 to 10 years. It is also not clear if the smartphone industry will adopt the tech or not. However, one thing is certain that these batteries will be a direct competitor to Tesla’s PowerWall.