Zinc Air Battery

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The cost of raw materials per kWh for zinc-air chemistry is seven times cheaper than the one from typical lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries, and 13 times cheaper than the one from the most common. Zinc–air batteries have higher energy density and specific energy (and weight) ratio than other types of battery because atmospheric air is one of the battery reactants. The air is not packaged with the battery, so that a cell can use more zinc in the anode than a cell that must also contain, for example, manganese dioxide. 4,784 zinc air battery products are offered for sale by suppliers on Alibaba.com, of which primary batteries accounts for 14%, other batteries accounts for 1%, and lithium ion batteries accounts for 1%. A wide variety of zinc air battery options are available to you, such as zinc carbon, zn/mno2. Zinc-air batteries can hold energy much longer than lithium-ion and to all that is needed is an increase the capacity of the battery is to increase the storage container that holds the Zinc.

  1. Zinc Air Battery P675
  2. Rechargeable Zinc Air Battery

Zinc-Air Batteries

Zinc Air Battery

Zinc-air batteries employ oxygen from the air to use in their cathode, and use an anode primarily composed of zinc and an alkaline electrolyte. Ryobi one plus.

Figure 1 shows a cut-out of a zinc-air button cell. The anode is usually comprised of a granulated powder mixed with electrolyte, and often employs a gelling agent to cause contact between the electrolyte and the zinc granules. The metal can halves function as the positive and negative terminals, and a plastic gasket is used as an insulator between the two halves. The small cathode allows twice as much zinc anode to be used by the battery, therefore increasing its output potential. The battery's electrical capacity is determined by anode capacity, and its energy density is at least doubled.

The cathode includes separators, a layer for the catalyst, a metal mesh, a hydrophobic membrane, a diffusion membrane, and a layer for air distribution. The catalyst layer contains a blend of carbon and manganese for adequate conduction, and becomes hydrophobic with the addition of teflon particles. The metal mesh gives the battery structural support while the air distribution layer permits air to enter the battery evenly over the surface.


Zinc-air batteries produce electrochemical energy by using oxygen straight from the air. Oxygen becomes the cathode reactant, and is diffused directly into the battery. The air cathode uses an aqueous alkaline electrolyte to catalytically promote the reaction of oxygen, but is not depleted or transformed at discharge. The cathode is compact, yet at the same time has an almost unlimited capacity, and achieves high energy densities due to the additional volume available for the zinc anode.

Zinc Air BatteryZinc Air Battery

The advantages of a zinc-air battery include flat discharge voltage, safety and environmental benefits, good shelf life, and low cost. In addition, zinc-air batteries have high volumetric energy density compared to most primary batteries. The disadvantages of such batteries are that they rely on ambient conditions, they dry out once exposed to outside air, they have flooding potential, they have limited output, and their active life is short. It is important to note that when zinc turns it into zinc oxide it expands, and there must be adequate space within the battery for this expansion. The main form of gas transfer degradation is water vapor transfer.

Additional InformationBattery

Today, zinc-air batteries are used for such things as hearing aids, pagers, and medical devices. Zinc air batteries come in many shapes and sizes. They have an open-circuit voltage of 1.4 volts, and 1.15-1.35 at 20 degrees Celsius. The efficient cathode of these batteries, first developed during fuel-cell research for the space program, has since evolved with fluorocarbons becoming a polymer class.

Many variables affect power, including the type of separator system, electrolyte, cathode catalyst, and regulation of gas diffusion. Zinc-air batteries can be made for high rate applications, which have a short life but high output, or low rate, with low power but lasting a long time. Gas diffusion must be regulated to control environmental tolerance versus the demand for power.

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Energy Management

Air3min read

Do you ever get frustrated when your smartphone constantly seems to be running low on battery? Well then, you have an energy storage issue. Batteries are a small and, at times, a primitive form of energy storage. From Duracell to your car battery, they are all small storage devices that use power when it is needed and can sometimes fail when needed the most.

Our reliance on batteries continues to grow, whether it’s smartphone or automobile-related. In fact, it is estimated that by 2025 lithium batteries – known for their long-life span – will be a $94 billion global industry, according to a Market Research Report.1 The domination of lithium by the Asian market and its high demand has the potential to make the commodity more expensive and less accessible.

China’s Domination of Lithium Ion and its Impact

Over the years not much has changed with batteries. Most come in a small cylindrical form with a very limited lifespan, and some have recharging capabilities. In the 1990s, lithium-ion batteries became popular for laptop and high-tech applications. Lithium-ion batteries have also been called upon for many applications, automobile and electricity storage being the largest.2 For example, Tesla is building a factory to mass produce lithium-ion batteries in the Nevada desert for use in electric vehicles. Lithium-ion batteries are destined to power home power storage units (i.e., a backup generator). This makes lithium-ion batteries the most viable large-use storage solution but there are challenges to keeping prices low and ensuring their long-term accessibility.

Lithium-ion batteries are comprised of both lithium and cobalt. Over the last few years, China has quietly bought access to about 85% of the world’s cobalt3 and has control of more than half of the world’s lithium production.4 With China cornering the cobalt market, access to the product will become more difficult and more expensive. Since 2016, the price of cobalt has risen ~260%, and consumers have already been scouring the world for unconventional access to both cobalt and lithium.3

Over the last few years, China has quietly bought access to about 85% of the world’s cobalt and has control of more than half of the world’s lithium.

These challenges are leading more companies to find a comparable alternative that is more accessible. BMW and Volkswagen are two companies that have been looking for alternate sources for quite some time. Anticipating these challenges, Exelon, Constellation’s parent company, invested in Volta Energy Technologies, a startup company that identifies and evaluates promising new storage technologies, particularly alternative chemistries. Learn more about Volta’s mission in a Bloomberg article.

Finding an Alternative to Lithium-Ion Batteries

So far there isn’t a commercially feasible alternative to lithium-ion batteries, but that may be about to change. Zinc-air batteries, originally tested by Thomas Edison, are one of several potential alternatives to lithium-ion batteries. Zinc-air batteries are powered by oxidizing zinc with oxygen from the air. An energy technology company, owned by entrepreneur and engineer Dr. Soon-Shiong, has implemented zinc-air batteries in more than 100 villages in Africa and has found that the benefits to using zinc-air batteries are plentiful:5

Zinc Air Battery P675

  1. They have worked successfully without a grid. 
  2. Their cost is appealing with a cost of $100 a kilowatt hour vs ~$250 for lithum-ion.
  3. They do not come with a risk of anyone cornering the zinc market with zinc being a common material. 

What’s Next?

Rechargeable Zinc Air Battery

Zinc-air for automobile applications, such as electric vehicles, will impact the energy industry and the auto industry. The introduction of zinc-air as a solution to effective battery storage makes visions of automobiles with 500-mile range and inexpensive batteries plausible. Most companies are still in the early stages of developing zinc-air batteries, with some not taking their first commercial orders until sometime next year.5

Interesting in learning more about energy storage? Hear Constellation’s CEO Jim McHugh’s thoughts on the need for improved battery storage for continued growth in renewable energy in the third video in a past blog post.


  1. https://www.grandviewresearch.com/press-release/global-lithium-ion-battery-market
  2. https://www.mining-technology.com/features/inside-chinas-move-monopolise-cobalt/
  3. https://qz.com/1292202/china-now-effectively-controls-half-the-worlds-lithium-production/

Guest Author: Ed Fortunato, Managing Director Fundamental Analysis
Ed Fortunato is the Managing Director of Fundamental Analysis at Constellation, an Exelon Company and responsible for providing fundamental views of the economy, oil and natural gas. Ed has spent more than 15 years with Exelon having begun his career managing the proprietary trading book, the short-term analytics group and has lead the implementation of trading strategies in both the prop and hedging books since his arrival. Ed has an MBA with high honors in finance from Boston University and a BBA from Baruch College.

Published: November 1, 2018

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