Scientists at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have made a huge breakthrough in battery technology by developing the world's first rechargeable proton battery.
The proton battery uses a carbon electrode to store hydrogen, combined with a reversible fuel cell to produce electricity. When charging the battery, carbon in the electrode bonds with protons obtained by splitting water, which is done using electrons from the connected power supply.
When the battery is called into action, the protons pass back through the reversible fuel cell to produce water, which combines with oxygen to generate the power. By using readily available and sustainable materials, this proton battery is much more environmentally friendly than current lithium-ion batteries and it has the potential to store more energy.
Scientists have only produced a small-scale prototype of the proton battery so far, but they expect it to be commercially available in the next 5 to 10 years. Lead researcher Professor John Andrews has said when it does become readily available, it is expected to be a competitor to the Tesla Powerwall, which is used to store energy to power homes.
Andrews adds: "As the world moves towards inherently-variable renewable energy to reduce greenhouse emissions and tackle climate change, requirements for electrical energy storage will be gargantuan."
"Powering batteries with protons has the potential to be more economical than using lithium ions, which are made from scare 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."