A new generation of manganese dioxide-zinc batteries with unprecedented cycle life and energy density is said to have been developed by researchers at The City College of New York-based CUNY Energy Institute. According to the research team, the discovery could make the common household battery suitable for large grid storage applications.

A recent trend in the energy storage field has been to replace lithium-ion batteries with zinc-anode versions as zinc is cheap, abundant and much safer. Until now, the only detriment of this version has been the latter's relatively short cycle life, which has not allowed it to be successfully commercialised as a rechargeable battery.

To resolve this issue, the team developed a battery that takes advantage of intercalation and complexation chemistry, which they claim improves the cathodes’ capacity to recharge, maintaining its high-energy density to more than 900 cycles.

"A new layered crystal structure of manganese dioxide is used in this chemistry, which is intercalated with copper ions. This makes it rechargeable to its theoretical capacity for a significant number of cycles," said Senior Research Associate Gautam Yadav.

According to the researchers, this is the first time a calcium hydroxide interlayer is used to block the zinc ions through complexation.