Simple proton batteries have become equal in energy density to lithium-ion
The progress made by researchers at the Royal Melbourne University of Technology in developing proton batteries is promising. The tripled energy density of the device, reaching 245 Wh/kg, puts it in a competitive range compared to commercial lithium-ion batteries, which typically have an energy density of about 260 Wh/kg. Furthermore, the proton battery technology offers several advantages over traditional lithium-ion batteries.
The operation of a proton battery resembles that of a hydrogen fuel cell but in reverse. It utilizes water as a “fuel” and divides it into oxygen and hydrogen protons. These protons are not converted into a dangerous gaseous form; instead, they accumulate within a porous electrode, initially made of activated carbon impregnated with acid.
This design allows energy storage in hydrogen ions, presenting minimal risks. Additionally, the proton battery technology avoids using expensive and rare materials such as lithium, making all the battery components fully recyclable. The level of energy losses in proton batteries is lower than in other hydrogen energy systems, with a calculated efficiency of up to 75%.
Despite these exciting developments, the proton battery is not yet available in the form of a prototype. The laboratory has successfully reproduced all the stages of battery operation and optimized the design. Still, challenges related to the battery’s bulkiness and complexity lead to a drop in energy density due to increased weight. However, the Eldor Corporation’s engineers have joined the effort to address this problem and aim to design a working prototype with a power capacity of up to a megawatt.
The successful development of proton batteries could have significant implications for energy storage technology, offering a more sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional lithium-ion batteries and other hydrogen energy systems. However, further research and development are required to overcome the current limitations and make the technology viable for practical applications.