A new class of material that could make batteries safer, longer-lasting and better performing has been found by researchers from the University of Houston.

Even though aqueous rechargeable batteries featuring low cost and nonflammable water-based electrolytes are safe and robust, they have a short lifespan, making them unsuitable for applications where it isn't practical to replace them frequently.

The problem is the anode as existing anode materials are structurally and chemically unstable, meaning the battery is only efficient for a relatively short time.

To resolve this issue, the researchers used quinones – an inexpensive, earth-abundant and recyclable material – to create stable anode composites for any aqueous rechargeable battery.

"This new material is cheap and chemically stable," said associate professor Yan Yao.

According to Yao, the material can be used to create a drop-in replacement for current battery anodes, allowing the new material to be used without changing existing battery manufacturing lines.

Current research offers evidence that the material is an effective anode for both acid batteries and alkaline batteries, such as those used in a car, as well as emerging aqueous metal-ion batteries.

The new material is also said to allow the batteries to work across temperature ranges, unlike some conventional aqueous batteries.

"One of these batteries, as a car battery, could last 10 years," Yao said.

In addition to slowing the deterioration of batteries for vehicles and stationary electricity storage batteries, it also would make battery disposal easier because the material does not contain heavy metals.