Engineers from Stanford University have developed a new low-cost battery designed for storing renewable energy.

The high-performance and nonflammable battery is developed using urea, which is found in fertilizers and mammal urine. It features electrodes manufactured using abundant aluminum and graphite.

Developed by Stanford chemistry Professor Hongjie Dai and doctoral candidate Michael Angell, the battery solution can store renewable energy for consumption during off hours.

Dai said: “So essentially, what you have is a battery made with some of the cheapest and most abundant materials you can find on Earth. And it actually has good performance.”

The solution is the newest version of a battery which was earlier developed by Dai’s lab in 2015 with an expensive electrolyte.

However, the latest version comprises a urea-based electrolyte and is said to be about 100 times cheaper than the 2015 model.

The team plans to assess the chemical processes inside the battery in order to extend its lifetime by at least ten years, at commercial-scale, in order to meet the demands of grid storage.

The new urea-based aluminum ion batteries are designed to go through about 1,500 charge cycles with a 45-minute charging time.

This research was supported by the Department of Energy, Global Networking Talent 3.0 Plan, the Ministry of Education of Taiwan and the Taishan Scholar Project.

The battery patents have already been licensed to AB Systems, founded by Dai while a commercial version of the battery currently under development.

Image: The new battery is designed for storing renewable energy, including solar. Photo: courtesy of dan/