Iron-Air Rechargeable Battery

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Los Angeles, California
Project Term:
10/01/2010 - 09/30/2013

Technology Description:

University of Southern California (USC) is developing an iron-air rechargeable battery for large-scale energy storage that could help integrate renewable energy sources into the electric grid. Iron-air batteries have the potential to store large amounts of energy at low cost—iron is inexpensive and abundant, while oxygen is freely obtained from the air we breathe. However, current iron-air battery technologies have suffered from low efficiency and short life spans. USC is working to dramatically increase the efficiency of the battery by placing chemical additives on the battery's iron-based electrode and restructuring the catalysts at the molecular level on the battery's air-based electrode. This can help the battery resist degradation and increase life span. The goal of the project is to develop a prototype iron-air battery at significantly cost lower than today's best commercial batteries.

Potential Impact:

If successful, USC's iron-air battery would represent a low-cost alternative to the best commercial batteries in use today. This technology could be scaled up to provide substantial storage capacity for the use of renewable power within the electric grid.


A more efficient and reliable grid would be more resilient to potential disruptions.


Electricity generation accounts for over 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Enabling large-scale contributions of wind and solar power for our electricity generation would result in a substantial decrease in CO2 emissions.


Increases in the availability of wind and solar power would reduce fossil fuel demand, resulting in reduced fuel prices and more stable electricity rates.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Paul Albertus
Project Contact:
Prof. Sri Narayan
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Jet Propulsion Laboratory

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