This advanced zinc-air battery can further electric mobility

Researchers use a mix of less expensive, safer, and sustainably available components to create long-lasting bi-functional air electrodes.
Jijo Malayil
An illustration of a solid state battery
An illustration of a solid state battery


We have all heard the line; the future is electric. But are we fully equipped to handle a full-scale transition to all-electric power? One thing standing in the way is the lack of cleaner and more affordable battery technologies to store energy. 

Compared to commonly used Lithium-ion cells facing challenges related to cost, finite resources, and safety concerns, rechargeable zinc-air batteries (ZABs) are pitched as cost-effective energy storage devices and display high-energy density, especially for application in EVs. 

A team of researchers at Edith Cowan University (ECU), who are looking at advancing sustainable battery systems, has come up with a solution to solve the significant drawbacks associated with zinc-air batteries. The research evaluated zinc-air batteries using a mix of less expensive, safer, and sustainably available components, resulting in enhanced lifespan and performance.

"With the emergence of next-generation long-range vehicles and electric aircraft in the market, there is an increasing need for safer, more cost-effective, and high-performance battery systems that can surpass the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries, said Dr. Muhammad Rizwan Azhar, a professor at ECU and lead on the project, in a statement.

A more sustainable option 

A zinc-negative electrode and an air-positive electrode make up a zinc-air battery. Until now, the main drawback of these has been their low power production, which results from the poor air electrode performance and short lifespan.

Thanks to the ECU discovery, engineers may now rebuild zinc-air batteries using various novel materials, including carbon, less expensive iron, and cobalt-based minerals.

The team found it essential to create long-lasting bi-functional air electrodes that exhibit strong catalytic activity for simultaneous oxygen evolution/reduction processes to achieve high round-trip energy efficiency. This was achieved using a nanocomposite made of two hydrophobic ternary CoNiFe layers.

"The new design has been so efficient it suppressed the internal resistance of batteries, and their voltage was close to the theoretical voltage, which resulted in a high peak power density and ultra-long stability," said Azhar. 

These cutting-edge zinc-air batteries are also more viable and cost-effective in the long run as it is made using natural resources like air and zinc from Australia. "In addition to revolutionizing the energy storage industry, this breakthrough contributes significantly to building a sustainable society, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and mitigating environmental impacts.”

As the world scrambles to meet the Paris climate summit targets to contain the global rise in temperatures to 1.5°C and to limit the global CO2 atmospheric concentrations to 450 ppm by 2050, sustainable energy resources are poised to play an important role.

According to the team, zinc batteries, the oldest energy-storage system, hold a great promise to develop a sustainable society. Such a technology should be "prioritized over other batteries because of their low cost, environmental benignity, high theoretical energy density, and in-built safety."


Rechargeable zinc-air batteries (ZABs) are cost-effective energy storage devices and display high-energy density. To realize high round-trip energy efficiency, it is critical to develop durable bi-functional air electrodes, present high catalytic activity towards oxygen evolution/reduction reactions together. Herein, we report a nanocomposite based on ternary CoNiFe-layered double hydroxides (LDH) and cobalt coordinated and N-doped porous carbon (Co-N-C) network, obtained by the in-situ growth of LDH over the surface of ZIF-67-derived 3D porous network. Co-N-C network contributes to the oxygen reduction reaction activity, while CoNiFe-LDH imparts to the oxygen evolution reaction activity. The rich active sites and enhanced electronic and mass transport properties stemmed from their unique architecture and culminated in outstanding bi-functional catalytic activity towards oxygen evolution/reduction in alkaline media. In ZABs, it displays a high peak power density of 228 mW cm−2 and a low voltage gap of 0.77 V over an ultra-long lifespan of 950 h.

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