Engineers at the Vienna University of Technology have created a battery that needs no hard-to-come-by materials, uses no nickel or cobalt, can’t catch fire, and can be regenerated when the performance begins to degrade with time.

It’s based on oxygen.

The developers used two ceramic compounds that can absorb and release doubly negatively charged oxygen ions. When hit with a voltage, oxygen ions travel from one ceramic to the other, then migrate back the other way, generating a current.

When the oxygen ions weaken over time, more oxygen can be drawn into the battery over time from the air, giving it a potentially very long service life.

The new battery design only delivers about a third the power of conventional lithium-ion batteries for its size, making it unsuitable for electric vehicles or telecommunications gadgets.

However, the system could be ideal for grid-scale storage of wind or solar power, the scientists said, or also could be used to make electricity in buildings.

TRENDPOST: Battery designs that omit the usual ingredients of cobalt, lithium, nickel, and other high-demand ingredients are becoming even more important.

Battery chemistries such as Vienna’s oxygen battery can be used in place of metal batteries in many applications, easing the ever-rising demand for increasingly scarce and pricey materials.

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