Technology Strategy Assessment

Technology Strategy Assessment - Zinc Batteries

Energy Earthshots (U.S. Department of Energy)

Findings from Storage Innovations 2030
Zinc Batteries
July 2023*

Zinc (Zn) was used as the negative electrode (anode) of batteries dating to the early 1800s, when Alessandro Volta formed early voltaic piles from stacks of alternating copper and Zn. The low-cost, high-energy density, safety, and global availability of Zn have made Zn-based batteries attractive targets for development for more than 220 years. The Zn-carbon battery, originally developed in the later 1800s, was manufactured as a popular primary battery until the 1980s. Although still in limited use today in the United States, Zn-carbon cells were eventually replaced by alkaline Zn-MnO2 batteries introduced as primary dry cells in 1952 and patented by Paul A. Marsal, Karl Kordesch, and Lewis Urry in 1960. These batteries have become some of the most commercially successful batteries to date, commonly recognized as AA, AAA, C, D, and 9V batteries in everyday use. Initially developed in the 1920s, Zn–Ni batteries were explored in the 1970s and 1980s as rechargeable batteries capable of hundreds (today ~1,000) of deep discharge cycles, potentially suitable for application in electric vehicles. Primary Zn-air batteries, commonly recognized as “button cells” today, were originally patented in 1933 by G. W. Heise [8] and are still in widespread use (e.g., in hearing aids and some film cameras) [5]. Collectively, these historical batteries serve as the inspiration for several of the most commercially advanced batteries for grid-scale storage to date.

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