​Metal-Air Batteries Ultimate Guide & Applications - Nanografi

​Metal-Air Batteries Ultimate Guide & Applications - Nanografi

Metal air batteries are electrochemical cells in which the anode is made of pure metal while the cathode is made of ambient air. Metal Air Batteries are an advanced class of primary and secondary cells.

These batteries were invented in the 19th century. There are various types of metal-air Batteries like Zn-air batteries, Al-air batteries, Li-air batteries, Mg-air batteries, Vanadium-air batteries, etc. Aqueous and non-aqueous are the electrolytes used in Metal-Air Batteries. Aqueous electrolytes are affected by water or moisture while non-aqueous are not affected by these factors. These batteries have been useful in our lives. These batteries have high energy capacity, cost-effectiveness, and environmentally friendly nature, provide enough energy per unit mass, are highly suitable for electric vehicles, and are easily recycled. As Nanografi, we are ready to revolutionize your energy storage solutions. Our cutting-edge metal-air battery materials are here to redefine performance, durability, and sustainability for a greener, more efficient tomorrow.


The significant components of the future energy grid are the electrochemical energy storing systems. Lead acid battery and lithium-ion battery solutions are available among the many and they perform remarkably it's because of this that they are very beneficial in our daily living activities. The power and energy densities of the LIBs may be improved more despite them being successful in their areas of application.

Lead acid battery (LAB) is the other successful energy storage system but it is weaker because of the lead toxicity and the organized formal sector being absent in its recycling. The need of the hour is the enhancement in LABs and LIBs as the need for electrical vehicles rises by a second. Lithium-ion batteries have many problems despite their numerous advantages and benefits. It's brittle and its better performance requires a shielded circuit.

Discover battery materials from Nanografi's top-quality services and products.

Battery Shelf Life

Another apprehension is the shelf life, just in its first year, the maximum efficiency of the Li-ion batteries lessens, despite the usage status of the battery. One can’t increase the efficiency to more than 30% making them not good enough for transportation purposes. A huge amount of interest has been gained in the metal-air battery because of its higher energy capacity, environmentally friendly nature, and cost-effectiveness.

An electrochemical cell in which air is lessened and oxidation takes place in metal is known as the metal-air battery. Metals make up the anode and they include the alkali metals like sodium or potassium, lithium, alkaline earth metals like magnesium and calcium, transition elements like zinc and iron, and some metalloid like Al and Si.

Electrolytes in Metal-Air Batteries

It depends on the anode type that is used as the electrode may vary from non-hydrous or hydrous. Air makes up the other reduction electrode and separators separate the cathode and anode. The distinct energy storage system is the metal-air batteries as there is no need to store the cathodic oxygen as it is an unlimited source from the environment.

Metal Air Batteries' Invention

In the earlier 19th century, there were inventions of MABs. The first non-rechargeable Zn air battery was developed by Maiche and in 1932, he began selling its commercial products, and since then there has been enough amount of progress and research in the MABs area. Non-protic (non-aqueous) and protic (aqueous) batteries were invented after this research. The early discoveries were the batteries utilizing aqueous electrolytes and anodic metals such as magnesium, aluminum, iron, and an air cathode.

There was an invention of the non-aqueous electrolytes combinations once the drawbacks of the aqueous electrolytes were found. However, due to the natural oxygen (cathode source) being abundant in nature and low-cost metals capable of making anode, these batteries tend to be comparatively cheap. Thus, MABs appear to be one of the advanced and useful contenders for the latest requirements due to their power density and higher heat capacity in comparison with the other parallel batteries, particularly for electric vehicles.

Advanced Metal-Air Battery Classes

One can find metal-air batteries in the advanced class of secondary and primary cells. At times they are considered the fuel cells as there is the circulation of the air in these batteries throughout the cells between the electrodes. Metal air battery is a less appreciated innovation since their discovery in 1878. The aqueous Zn-air battery was the first recorded research in the MAB, and it was made in the most advanced ways and it was at the same level as the batteries of today.

Metal-Air Battery Types and Unique Applications

Despite commercial lithium-ion batteries working well in the electronics sector but if they are compared with metal-air batteries then their energy efficiency is way less comparatively (around three to thirty times lower). The world has been fascinated by the Zn and Li metals, (ZABs) and (LABs) as anodic metals. A better theoretical value is displayed by the LABs with the discharging product being Li2O2 in terms of specific heat capacity and energy density (3,860 mAh/g and 11,429 W-h/kg, respectively) and 2.96 V of cell voltage. 1,350 Wh/kg of theoretical energy density is possessed by ZABs which is almost 5 times more advanced as compared to Lithium-ion batteries.

Graphene Application in Metal-air Batteries

To find out more you can read Graphene Appplications in Metal-Air Batteries.

The Cost Factor in the Batteries

In comparison with the lithium-ion battery, both the ZABs and LABs are less expensive. Other MABs also have their benefits and advantages. For example, a bulk volume capacity of 8,040 Ah/L is shown by the aluminum-air batteries, and lesser charge over potentials are shown by the sodium-air batteries. The progress in enhancing the battery performance and advanced manufacturing technologies is described by Chunlion Wang for electrolyte, anode, and cathode in MABs. According to maximum research, the traditional alloys are known as the electrode materials on the anode in comparison to the alloys with the nano-composites as they can improve discharge capacity and lessen the other secondary reactions.

i) Zn-Air Battery

For small current applications like hearing aids, the most appropriate batteries are zinc air batteries. In this category, they are the only commercialized and successful one as the primary cells. The most reliable and immediate pathway to a viable secondary metal-air battery is offered by the zinc-oxygen systems despite their limited recharging capacity and shelf life. In 1878, ZAB was the first invented battery in the MABS category. Multiphase electrolytes are used to design a novel dendrite-resistant ZAB and a polymer electrolyte-based ZAB for conducting the OER and the Zn deposition. Numerous instruments like X-ray diffraction, Scanning Electron Micrographs (SEM), galvanostatic discharge, and EIS, are used for exploring numerous practical and theoretical (electrochemical) characteristics of these batteries.

ii) Vanadium Air Battery

It is a modified VRFB (vanadium redox flow battery). Oxygen on the cathode substitutes the electrolyte that generally is the VO2+/VO2 + couple. Vanadium air battery has a good shelf life and is completely refuellable over semi-infinite cycles. MEA (coated with Ti Mesh) and VOSO4 in H2SO4 electrolytes is an electrolytes, the air is a reduction electrode, and vanadium is an anode in the vanadium air battery/ redox flow battery.

iii) Na-air Battery

With 1683 Watts hour/kg (theoretical value) of high specific heat energy, the sodium-air battery is a new class of MAB. SAB possesses applications in transportation because of its eco-friendly nature, low cost, and sodium abundance. Like any other metal-air battery, SAB also comprises the cathode and anode, whereas electrolyte with a separator in the case of battery. There were reports of a Na-air battery that contains sodium triflate salt and carbon-fiber GDL in the diethylene glycol dimethyl ether as the electrolyte and Raman Spectroscopy, SEM, XRD, And EDS, etc. are used to study its electrochemical characteristics.

iv) Potassium Air Battery

In 2013, potassium-oxygen batteries were made in the State of Ohio and they could be more efficient as compared to lithium-air batteries. They were capable of storing twice the charge as compared to the present lithium-ion batteries. There is designing of another potassium air battery with the electrolyte being KPF6 dissolved in ether. Raman Spectroscopy and XRD were utilized by them to explain their electrochemical behavior.

v) Aluminum-Air Battery

As an energy source, the AAB (aluminum air battery) is extremely appropriate for electric vehicles (EVs). It possesses 8200 Wh/kg of extraordinary energy density, which is significantly better as compared to LIBs. There are reports of new AAB with an organic non-aqueous electrolyte.

vi) Magnesium Air Battery

It is a combination of the magnesium being the anode and at the cathode, the air is reduced. Generally, the activated carbon determines the reducing electrode. Catalysts are utilized at times too with a fine layer of aquaphobic polymer material and the metal sheet as the conductive element that is based on the electrolyte material's electrode position. The secondary magnesium batteries are in the R&D stage and finding the most appropriate electrolytes combination is one of the most significant challenges. There was a demonstration of a biocompatible ionic liquid embedded in Magnesium-air with a polymeric electrolyte material and EIS, FTIR, and SEM parameters were used by them to explain their electrochemical behavior. Mass spectroscopy techniques, XPS, and FTIR explain the characterization and the discharge behavior and characterization of magnesium air battery with the electrolyte being tri-hexyl (tetradecyl) phosphonium chloride ionic liquid.

vii) Lithium-Air Battery

K. Abraham invented the first secondary rechargeable LAB. It had Li+ at the anode in a membrane form which was electrically conducting with the carbon-embedded air cathode. Around 3,458- Watt-hour/kg of the highest energy density is possessed by the maximum lithium-air batteries in all MABs range. It is way more advanced as compared to Lithium-ion batteries and is a capable option for the EES systems. There has been a lot of research since its discovery in 1996 for improving the oxygen electrode's electrochemical reversibility.

viii) Fe-air, Ge-air, Si-air, and Sn-air Batteries

In the MAB category, the less used metals are metals like Fe, Ge, Si, and Sn. In 2015, a high-temperature solid electrolyte-based tin air storage cell was explained by Hyungkuk Ju. Sn has promising thermal oxidizing power near its melting point temperature and it's explained by them through the SEM and EDX element mapping study. In 2010, a MAB was described by Ein-Eli with ionic liquids as electrolytes, air as cathode, and silicon as anodic metal. Electrochemical behavior was explained by using XPS studies, Energy-dispersive X-Ray spectroscopy, and scanning electron microscopy. In 2013, a Ge-based metal-air battery was made by Joey et al, with an efficient PGE structure that wasn't shallow with the particular interfacial structures. They were utilized as a hierarchical nanoporous anode and XPS, SEM, and X-Ray diffraction parameters were utilized to describe their electrochemical characteristics.

ix) Calcium Air Battery

The crust of the earth contains calcium in huge amounts as compared to the Mg and Na. In the range of MABs, calcium can be one of the prominent, nontoxic, best metals, that with aqueous electrolytes can possess various applications. In 1988, Nirupama U Pujare made a calcium air battery with a solid electrolyte of CaO and CaCl2's binary molten salt. As a metal for metal-air batteries, calcium can obtain a high electrical density at a low manufacturing price.

Learn More About Solid State Batteries

To discover more about electrochemical energy applications, you can read Solid State Silicon Batteries.

The Perspective of Battery Design in Metal-Air Batteries

Iron has more than some good points from the battery design perspective, i.e. it is sturdy, and it offers enough energy per unit of mass. Its recycling is easy and had much potential for industrial investigations when they were being utilized with the alkaline electrolytes iron air batteries from the 1970s to the early 1980s. 764 Whkg-1 of specific heat energy and approximately 1.28 V of open circuit voltage is possessed by the iron-air battery with alkaline electrolytes.

Electrolytes Types for Metal-Air Batteries

Metal-air batteries have electrolytes as a central component that is related to the efficiencies of the batteries. Every metal air system has its specifications in terms of electrolyte features.

The Shortlisting Criteria for the Electrolytes

a. High in Oxygen Solubility

b. Non-toxic

c. Low Volatility

d. Stable across various environmental conditions.

We can classically categorize the MABs into 2 categories based on their electrolytes. Water or moisture doesn't affect the first type which is based on aqueous or protic electrolytes. Whereas, water or atmospheric moisture can affect the other one which is based on non-aqueous or aprotic electrolytes. In aqueous electrolytes, the highly reactive metals that are usually utilized by the non-aqueous aprotic electrolyte opposite to the non-aqueous MABs, aqueous MABs, are in their initial phase. Some good examples are potassium, sodium, and lithium.

Non-Aqueous Electrolyte-Based Metal-Air Batteries

Traditionally, metal-air batteries have employed aqueous electrolytes, which, although offering some advantages such as low cost and high ionic conductivity, suffer from issues like limited voltage window, low energy density, and poor cycle life.

Non-aqueous electrolyte-based metal-air batteries, on the other hand, leverage organic solvents or ionic liquids as the electrolyte medium, which can offer several distinct advantages. These include a wider electrochemical stability window, improved energy density, and enhanced cycle stability. Moreover, non-aqueous electrolytes can enable the use of various metal anodes, such as lithium, sodium, magnesium, and aluminum, that have higher theoretical capacities compared to their aqueous counterparts, thereby further improving the overall energy density.

In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the intricacies of non-aqueous electrolyte-based metal-air batteries, examining their underlying principles, key components, and the factors that contribute to their performance. We will begin by discussing the fundamental operating mechanisms of metal-air batteries and the role of non-aqueous electrolytes in improving their electrochemical properties. Subsequently, we will explore the different types of metal anodes, air cathodes, and electrolyte materials that have been investigated for use in these systems. Finally, we will address the current challenges associated with non-aqueous electrolyte-based metal-air batteries, along with the potential solutions and future research directions that could propel their development and commercialization. Through this comprehensive analysis, we aim to provide a thorough understanding of non-aqueous electrolyte-based metal-air batteries and their potential in revolutionizing the energy storage landscape.

Ionic Liquid Electrolyte

Naturally, electrolytes like ionic liquids are non-aqueous. Cations of two types are contained by them: a. Organic solvents alkali metal ions like esters, carbonates, and organic ethers, and b. large organic cations of organic/inorganic anions. In 2010, a remarkable non-aqueous primary silicon air battery was made by Ein-Eli with the nonaqueous primary silicon as the electrolyte. The following structure was used to conceive this battery: Electrolyte:1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium oligo fluoro hydrogenate [EMI (HF)2.3 F] ionic-liquid electrolyte at room temperature, and Anode: Heavily doped n-type single crystal silicon wafers.

Air Oxygen

A negligible corrosion rate is shown by the resultant electrolyte and the cell potential fluctuates between 1.1-0.8 with the average current densities varying from 10-300 µA cm2. A remarkable nonaqueous Aluminum-air system was made by D. Gelman et. al. in 2012, containing (EMI(HF)2.3)(1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium oligo fluoro hydrogenate), and at room temperature, it is non-aqueous. 1.5 mA/cm2 current density is shown by the resultant electrolyte-based battery and more than 140 mAh/cm2 is the producing capacity and 25[µA/cm2] is the aluminum corrosion current.


Negligible corrosion rates and high stability is shown in the results of the linear polarization experiment. In 2014, EMI AlCl3 ionic liquid electrolyte was used by R. Ravel et al. for the aluminum-air battery at room temperature. 71 mAh/cm of capacity and a low self-discharge rate is exhibited by this battery. In 2017, the Ionic liquid was used in an alkaline medium by M.A. Deyab. The H2 gas evolution and the corrosion rate are minimized by the resultant electrolyte and there is an increase in its capacity density to 2254 mA/g of maximum value.

Solid Electrolyte

Conductivity and wettability are the two features in which solid-state electrolytes are different from aqueous electrolytes. An aluminum air system along with solid electrolytes which consist of Urea, CMC AlCl3, and glycerin was created by Ryohei Mori. The air cathode was made up by mixing Titanium nitride with polyvinylidene difluoride in a 1:03 ratio while the anode was prepared from aluminum chloride.

After confirmation from different analyses such as scanning electron microscope, EDX, and XPS, they claimed that the by-products aluminum oxide and aluminum chloride were not gotten. Moreover, it was proved that a stable reaction (electrochemical) took place because of surface layer activeness.

Properties and Characteristics of Solid Electrolytes

In 2014, Moran Balaish et. al explained the characteristics and properties of various solid electrolytes in the laboratory, like ionic liquids, nitriles, alkyl carbonates, amides, sulphones, sulphoxides, esters, etc. Ceramics, a sodium superionic conductor (NASICON), and a Na-air battery were prepared by Hayashi et. al in 2013.

In 2013, Atsushi Inoishi et. al explained a new method for Mg-air solid oxide batteries, and for an oxygen transport type battery, this battery is composed of an electrolyte which is Ca-stabilized ZrO2.

Aqueous Electrolyte Based Metal-Air Batteries

Lithium should be used in minute quantities in an aqueous solution. It reacts sharply with water. In 2004, a Ceramic glass layer was put above the electrode (Lithium) in a solution. By doing so, the metal electrode didn't react with water and allowed the wanted electrochemical at the same time. In alkaline aqueous electrolytes, instead of Li2O2, the discharge component is LiOH.H20. In these arrangements, with an anode at the surface of the separator, LiOH.H2O appeared as precipitation. In this way, the chances of the clogging of the pores lessen in the cathode. The process is performed in aprotic LABs.

Alkaline Electrolyte

In 2015, Da Pang Wang et al. made batteries of Al-air by using di-carboxylic acid compounds like C6H1004, and C4H6O4 as additives of electrolyte in the solution of alkaline Ethylene glycol. In the same year, M. Xu et al. described improvement in the battery of Zn-air as non-aqueous electrolytes used instead of aqueous electrolytes. In 2016, Arora et al. highlighted the problems of alkaline electrolytes and potential solutions for batteries made of Zn-air.

Room Temperature Ionic Liquid

Those organic salts whose melting point is below 100°C are called room-temperature Ionic Liquids. They are thermally stable and don't easily catch fire. That's why they are declared as alkaline electrolytes replacement. In Zinc-air batteries, by adding water to the Electrolyte of RTIL positive effect was observed.

Quasi-Solid Flexible Electrolyte

These electrolytes are made from polymers and aqueous electrolytes of alkaline. Shichao Wu et al. designed a super hydrophobic Quasi-Solid electrolyte for the prevention of crystal formation as they suggested a practical solution for Lithium-air batteries. In 2015, Joohyuk Park et. al formulated a gelatin-based battery system in which gel polymeric electrolyte in an alkaline medium was used. This battery became successful as it was flexible.

Future of Metal-air Batteries

Batteries made of metal-air shows great usefulness in various technologies as storage systems of energy. In electric vehicles and portable electronics, MABs as compact power sources are used. MABs are good energy systems and energy transfer stations among sustainable energy generators. As the price of air cathode is little, we use salt or water solution as an electrolyte to minimize the price of metal-air batteries for running the vehicle at little cost. The environmental livability of this battery is excellent because few toxic metals are used as anode and an eco-friendly environment will be enhanced by the use of green electrolytes.

A Sustainable Planet with Metal-Air Batteries

Emissions of carbon should be reduced to have a livable planet. A significant quantity of carbon dioxide is leaking into our environment from hydrocarbon use in petroleum-based products. That's why sustainable energy sources are developed like wind energy, hydropower, etc. It is time to have devices that are low-cost, store maximum energy, and produce less amount of CO2 for the livable planet.


An electrochemical energy storing system is an important component of the future energy grid. Although an ample amount of research and progress has been done in the area of Metal-Air Batteries yet there exist many defects, so improvement is the need of the hour.

To discover the latest articles about latest trends in metal-air battery technologies, you can visit Blografi.


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14th Apr 2023 Emilia Coldwell

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