updated 11:55 am EDT, Tue June 28, 2011
Could pack 3x capacity in the same footprint
Sumitomo Electric has developed a technology to make aluminum porous that could significantly improve lithium-ion batteries. The new porous aluminum, called "Aluminum-Celmet," could give these batteries one and one-half to three times greater capacity. It could alternately help to reduce the size by up to two-thirds without shrinking battery life.
The Celmet process essentially creates interconnected, open, spherical pores in the metal. These spaces can collect and store an electrical charge. The metal can be formed into various shapes by cutting and stamping. Sumitomo has already applied it to the nickel used in NiMH batteries. However, nickel is not well suited to li-ion batteries because it's a more corrosive environment.
Aluminum, on the other hand, does have a greater resistance to corrosion and consequently can be used in the electrode current collectors of rechargeable li-ions. These batteries currently use aluminum and copper foil for this purpose.
Sumitomo plans to build a small-scale production line in Osaka, Japan, and then ramp up to full-scale production at some point in the future. [via Tech-On]