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Zinc Air Batteries. By: Ana Brar. General Information. Oxygen from air. Activated when oxygen is absorbed into the electrolyte through a membrane Usually reaches full operating voltage within 5 seconds of being exposed to air Oxygen diffused directly into battery

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zinc air batteries

Zinc Air Batteries

By: Ana Brar

general information
General Information

Oxygen from air

  • Activated when oxygen is absorbed into the electrolyte through a membrane
  • Usually reaches full operating voltage within 5 seconds of being exposed to air
  • Oxygen diffused directly into battery
  • Electrolyte that catalytically promotes the reaction of oxygen, but is not depleted or transformed at discharge

Zinc and alkaline electrolyte

Button cell

  • Weight - not necessary to carry a second reactant
  • High energy density
  • Competitive with Lithium-ion
  • Inexpensive materials
  • Flat discharge voltage
  • Safety - don't require volatile materials, so zinc-air batteries are not prone to catching fire like lithium-ion batteries
  • Excellent shelf life, with a self-discharge rate of only 2% per year
  • Available in a range of button and coin cell sizes
  • Rechargeable high powerfuelcellsin the process of development
  • Environmental benefits
  • Have high volumetric energy density compared to most primary batteries
  • Sensitive to extreme temperature and humid conditions
  • Carbon dioxide from the air forms carbonate which reduces conductivity
  • High self discharge (after seal is broken)
  • After activation, chemicals tend to dry out and the batteries have to be used quickly
  • Although recharging is possible for fuel cells, it’s also inconvenient and is only suitable for high power types
  • Zinc air batteries must be larger to satisfy high current needs
  • High power batteries use mechanical charging in which discharged zinc cartridges are replaced by fresh zinc cartridges—therefore the used cartridges must be recycled
  • Have flooding potential
  • Limited output
  • When zinc turns it into zinc oxide it expands, space
common uses
Common uses
  • Hearing Aids
  • Watches
  • Mobile phones
  • Digital Cameras
  • Pagers
  • Power sources for electric fences
  • Recharging Li-Ion batteries
  • Transportation:
    • Cars - EVs
    • Buses
  • Zn/Air Batteries – not rechargeable
  • Zn/Air Fuel Cells – rechargeable
  • ReVolt has developed rechargeable Zinc/Air batteries
  • In future: EVs using Zn/Air?
  • Zinc-air batteries can be made for high rate applications, which have a short life but high output
  • Or low rate, with low power but last a longer amount of time
  • Would use Zn/Air Fuel Cells
  • Currently used in Las Vegas
  • Electrical Vehicle Division
  • Contain a central static replaceable anode cassette
  • To refuel: discharged zinc-air module removed from the vehicle and is "refueled" by exchanging spent "cassettes" with fresh cassettes


  • Swiss Company
  • Opened U.S. center of operations - Portland
  • Disadvantages:
  • They can't deliver sufficient power
  • They lose a lot of power very quickly
  • The cell dry out, becoming useless after only a few months
  • There is no satisfactory way to recharge them
  • The solution:
  • ReVolt's new technology has a theoretical potential of up to 4x the energy density of Li-Ion batteries at a comparable or lower production cost
  • Extended battery life due to stable reaction zone, low rates of dry-out and flooding, and no pressure build-up problems
  • Rechargeability
  • Compact size
  • Can manage the humidity within the cell
more on revolt
More on revolt
  • ReVolt technology claims to have overcome the main problem with zinc-air rechargeable batteries--that they typically stop working after relatively few charges (air electrode can become deactivated)
  • For electric vehicles: plan to use two flat electrodes – one containing zinc “slurry”
  • Air electrodes in the form of tubes
  • Zinc slurry is pumped through the tubes where it's oxidized, forming zinc oxide and releasing electrons
revolt s ev battery
Revolt’s ev battery
  • Plan to increase energy density by increasing the amount of zinc slurry relative to the amount of material in the air electrode
  • Much like a fuel cell system or conventional engine – zinc slurry ~ fuel, pumping through the air electrode like gas in a combustion engine
  • Longer life span - from 2,000 to 10,000 cycles
  • As with fuel cells, may need to be paired with another type of battery for bursts of acceleration or regenerative braking
zn air vs al air
Zn/air vs. al/air
  • Al/Air: produces electricity from the reaction of oxygen in the air with aluminum
  • Has one of the highest energy densities of all batteries
  • Not widely used - cost, shelf-life, start-up time and byproduct removal, which have restricted their use to mainly military applications
  • An electric vehicle with aluminum batteries could have potentially ten to fifteen times the range of lead-acid batteries with a far smaller total weight
mg air li air
Mg/air Li/Air
  • High energy density
  • Safe
  • Inexpensive
  • Not been widely used - self-discharge in neutral solution
  • Reaction mechanism of magnesium alloy anode
  • Effects of different additives on performance of Mg alloy in solution
  • Approach energy density of fuel cells
  • PolyPlus
  • Single use and rechargeable lithium metal-air – could power Evs
  • Theoretically: max energy density 5,000+ watt-hours per kilogram
  • Lower self discharge rate and longer shelf life
  • Many promising metal-air batteries:
    • Zinc/Air
    • Aluminum/Air
    • Magnesium/Air
    • Lithium/Air
  • Still mostly in developmental stages
  • Hope for use in electric vehicles in the future
  • http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10388553-54.html
  • http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/22926/
  • http://www.treehugger.com/files/2009/10/zinc-air-battery-revolt-3-times-more-energy-lithium-ion-battery-electric-cars.php
  • http://www.mpoweruk.com/zinc_air.htm
  • http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-10388553-54.html
  • http://www.duracell.com/oem/primary/Zinc/zinc_air_tech.asp
  • http://www.revolttechnology.com/technology/revolt-introduction.php
  • http://www.technologyreview.com/business/23812/page2/