Metal-air batteries have the potential to store more energy than lithium-ion batteries, which are now used in electric vehicles and some grid applications.
Based on the materials used, metal-air batteries could also be less expensive than lead-acid batteries, the cheapest, widely used rechargeable batteries.
While nonrechargeable metal-air batteries have been used commercially for a long time-they’re often used in hearing aids, for example-it’s been difficult to make them rechargeable.
The existing ones are fine for single-use batteries, but not for rechargeable batteries that are meant to last longer.
The resulting batteries are cheaper than buying the combination of lead-acid batteries and diesel engines typically used to keep telecommunication towers running through blackouts.
While the batteries seem to be a good solution for telecommunication towers, it could be a while before the batteries are used in cars.
GE recently opened a large factory in Schenectady, New York, to build batteries that are also designed to replace diesel generators and lead-acid batteries.