Research Papers

A Low-Cost Mechanically Rechargeable Aluminum–Air Cell for Energy Conversion Using Low-Grade Aluminum Foil

[+] Author and Article Information
Binbin Chen

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Hong Kong,
Pokfulam Road,
Hong Kong
e-mail: cbbchris@connect.hku.hk

Dennis Y. C. Leung

Department of Mechanical Engineering,
The University of Hong Kong,
Pokfulam Road,
Hong Kong
e-mail: ycleung@hku.hk

Manuscript received November 16, 2015; final manuscript received January 21, 2016; published online March 2, 2016. Editor: San Ping Jiang.

J. Electrochem. En. Conv. Stor. 13(1), 011001 (Mar 02, 2016) (5 pages) Paper No: JEECS-15-1007; doi: 10.1115/1.4032669 History: Received November 16, 2015; Revised January 21, 2016

The performance of a mechanically rechargeable aluminum (Al)–air cell, fabricated with low-cost materials including low-grade aluminum foil and carbon paper electrodes, was evaluated. The design adopted a free gravity flow for the electrolyte to eliminate the use of an external pump. A tank for storing waste electrolyte was designed with a dedicated channel for the collection of hydrogen gas generated during the cell discharge. The cell achieved a high utilization efficiency of aluminum. Considering both the electricity and hydrogen generated, an overall utilization efficiency of around 90% or even higher could be achieved under different working voltages. Results of repeated recharging/discharging showed that the performances of the cell could be maintained for repeated refilling.

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Fig. 1

Schematic illustration of the mechanically rechargeable Al–air cell (a) cell structure and (b) Al anode cartridge

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Fig. 2

Exploded view of the operation system, including fresh electrolyte tank, mechanically rechargeable Al–air cell and waste electrolyte tank. The inset is the sectional view of the inner channel of the waste electrolyte tank.

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Fig. 3

Chromatogram of the gas sample collected from the Al–air cell operation

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Fig. 4

The utilization efficiencies of Al in Al–air cell considering both hydrogen and electricity under three working voltages

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Fig. 5

Polarization curves of the Al–air cell with ten times the mechanical recharge

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Fig. 6

SEM pictures of the carbon paper before (a) and after (b) discharging over 20 hrs

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Fig. 7

(a) Comparison of polarization curves of Al–air cell system driven by gravity and by a micropump and (b) 1-hr discharge performance of the cell system at 0.7 V driven by gravity



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