NantEnergy, an American owned by  Patrick Soon-Shiong who is also the owner of the Los Angeles Times, has announced that it has developed a zinc-air battery which is considerably cheaper than other battery types currently on the market, including the lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion batteries cost  between $300 and $400 per kilowatt-hour, NantEnergy says that its zinc-air battery has cut cost down to less than $100 per kilowatt-hour.

During charging, NantEnergy’s Zinc Air battery uses electricity to convert zinc oxide to zinc and oxygen. In the discharge process, the battery system converts the electrochemical energy from the zinc by combining the zinc with oxygen from air, generating electrons leading to the transmission of electricity.

NantEnergy’s breakthrough is the discovery of a way of enabling zinc to retain its charge for prolonged periods of time and repeating the cycle of charge and discharge over 1,000s of repeated cycles without deterioration.

The company beieves that its batteries will be cheap enough to be used in developing counties areas which currently have no access to electricity. Its zinc-air batteries have already been successfully tested in 110 villages, in Indonesia and Madagascar, that previously had no access to electricity.

NantEnergy is planning to open a battery manufacturing facility in California in 2019.