URABat Named 2017 Edison Awards Finalist

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The 30th Edison Awards announced its 2017 finalists in February and ITRI’s URABat was honored to be nominated in the Energy & Sustainability/Power Source category. After winning the 2016 R&D 100 Awards, URABat once again shines on the global stage for its breakthrough innovation. The Edison Awards Gala will be held in New York on April 20 to announce the Gold, Silver, and Bronze winners.

URABat, an Ultrafast Rechargeable Aluminum Battery co-developed by ITRI and Stanford University, can be fully charged in just one minute for more than 10,000 cycles, with an exceptional coulombic efficiency (CE) of 98% throughout its life. URABat is made of highly stable graphite and aluminum materials and does not catch fire when damaged. It can be used for large scale renewable energy storage or to power light electric vehicles and consumer electronics.

Video of URABat.

The Edison Awards is an annual competition recognizing excellence in new product and service development, marketing, human-centered design, and innovation. It selects innovations based on four criteria: concept, value, delivery, and impact.

In terms of concept, the development of URABat has achieved three breakthroughs: (1) discovery of the perfect combination of aluminum and graphite as the battery cell; (2) the whole battery cell is as supple as paper, and can be mass produced for various demands and product attributes; (3) the stability and durability which make the battery safe even if damaged by an external force.

In value differentiation, URABat has better specific power density, lower cost per usage, and much longer life than lithium or lead acid batteries. URABat is the first electrochemical device capable of achieving a storage cost lower than a quarter of the cost of renewable electricity itself, while lithium or lead acid batteries are ten times more expensive in this application.

Meanwhile, the design of URABat eliminates the concern of battery hazard and environmental pollution, which satisfies consumers’ needs and makes it easy to be delivered to the marketplace. URABat is inherently safe because all components in the battery system, including the aluminum and graphite electrodes, and the separator, are inert. Ionic liquids are eco-friendly solvents because of their low volatility, non-toxicity, and non-flammable nature.

URABat is expected to impact the world by offering a new power storage alternative. It is a fast charging, stable battery, under all charging schemes and operating conditions. After commercialization, it will compete with lithium batteries for mobile devices and with lead acid batteries in electric motorcycles, scooters, bicycles, and in renewable energy storage in electricity grids.

Dr. Chang-Chung Yang, Deputy Division Director of ITRI’s Green Energy and Environment Research Laboratories, indicated that ITRI has two key technologies in the URABat system. One is an electrode with graphitic
foam material to achieve a 120 C fast-charging within 30 seconds. The other is the combination of a special-designed electrode structure and compatible electrolyte. “Currently, a single cell discharge capacities as high as 200 mAh g−1 can be obtained and 30,000 times cycle life test was proved in our lab,” said Dr. Yang. He further told ITRI TODAY that a sound layout of patents of core technologies of the developing aluminum battery has been completed.

According to Dr. Yang, the technologies including the graphite materials for cathode, ionic liquid, battery cell structure, modules and fast-charging control should put the team in a leading position among the research community of this area, and a solid foundation has been laid for future commercialization of aluminum battery technology and related industry in Taiwan. “We plan to cooperate with domestic manufacturers to accelerate the industrialization process,” Dr. Yang added. “The goal is to establish a new company with the capability of commercial production technology, and to bring products to international markets.”

Edison Awards

Established in 1987, the Edison Awards each year recognize innovative products, services, and business leaders throughout the world. The awards seek to encourage the development of new products and services, marketing, ergonomic design and innovation, in the process commemorating the pursuit of innovation and the values and principles of inventor Thomas A. Edison. Past Edison Award winners include the iPad, 3M's Molecular Detection System, and Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.