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This Australian company claims the development of the Graphene Aluminium-Ion Battery that is up to 70 times faster in charging and has up to 3 times more battery life than current Lithium-Ion Batteries.
However, this update shows in a table power densities for Graphene Al-ion and Li-ion batteries of 9350 W/kg @ 30C and 1603 W/kg @ 8C resp., with about the same order of energy density !

I think if this battery can charge so much faster it could also discharge much faster than an Li-ion battery with the same weight and so if for instance the Ingenuity helicopter would have been equipped with Graphene Aluminium-Ion Batteries it could lift much heavier payloads, although for a much shorter time.
But what other space applications could benefit from such batteries with much higher power density than, and the same order of energy density as the current Li-ion batteries ?

The pulsed inductive thruster for example ?

Many less batteries needed for a space-based maglev Sky Ramp (StarTram) ?

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    $\begingroup$ Note that for high discharge rate applications there are already super capacitors, the issue with them is low power density by weight. Recommend updating the question for the energy density assumptions you want answers to work with (page claims better, but for purposes of answering it may be easier to assume identical to li-ion to narrow the scope). $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2023 at 13:30
  • $\begingroup$ @GremlinWranger Useful comment, I've made an update ! $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Jan 29, 2023 at 15:38

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Almost all space exploration activities need electrical power. Batteries are needed except for those space exploration activities that are powered continuously and that draw power only at the rate supplied by the power source. That's very few. Some older space vehicles used fuel cells and were very careful with power consumption.

Until the 1990s, the space exploration industry was one of the key drivers in the development and improvement of solar power cells and batteries. That dynamic has changed. The new batteries described in the question are targeting down to earth applications. Space exploration can now take advantage of those earthly-oriented improvements.

Power consumption in space vehicles tends to be nonuniform. Communication, for example, tends to be bursty. Propulsion can also be rather bursty. Mars helicopters are also rather bursty. Even rovers are somewhat bursty in the sense that they are typically quiescent at night. That bursty behavior means a battery with a higher power capability is better. Prolonged electricity consumption means a device with a higher energy storage is better.

The better batteries being developed for down to Earth applications will most likely be of benefit to space applications as well. There are however concerns that are specific to space. Cooling batteries on Earth is not nearly as challenging as it is in space. Battery accidents and failures on Earth are not nearly as challenging as they are in space.

That said, it's nicer to be in front of the eight ball rather than behind it. The battery advances made for earthbound applications are almost certainly going to find their way to space. Advances were slow when space exploration was leading the way.

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  • $\begingroup$ About cooling batteries. another characteristic of the Graphene Al-ion battery is a very low fire potential. $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Jan 30, 2023 at 14:27
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The improved energy densities alone has some use.
For small cubesats specifically, there is always the dilemma of running off a simple single-use battery, or include the complete set of hardware required to charge a battery from solar power.

The latter eats precious parts of a very constrained mass budget and adds more points of failure.

The former becomes a more attractive option when the included battery has a long enough life to complete a the mission objectives within a single discharge. As such, cubesat design can be simplified for some uses.

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All space applications that require power storage would benefit from a higher density battery technology. Higher density power storage gives two primary benefits:

  1. Increased capability: More available power means more capacity to perform activities, perform science experiments, keep the spacecraft warmer, etc.
  2. Decreased mass for the same capabilities: Lighter batteries mean less mass to lift and thrust, meaning cheaper launches and less mass to propel to the destination. Less mass once in orbit means you can decrease the size of the engine you need, carry less fuel, or get there faster with the same engine and fuel.

Most likely designers would use a mixture of both.

As for faster charging, there would be advantages where there is a limited opportunity to charge batteries or reclaim power, I can't think of any practical examples of that.

Faster discharging could be an advantage with high power draw applications like drills, fast spinning motors, and maybe lasers if you could land one powerful enough.

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