I did something a few years ago that I doubt many other people have done. I read an entire textbook; specifically a science textbook titled Elements of Physics that was published in 1927 (and authored by Robert A. Millikan, for those of you who may be interested). One of the most amazing parts of the text though was the portrait of Thomas Edison, because it has no death date, as you can see in the image. While much in that book is now out of date, some of the technology contained in it, and prior to it, is still in use today, and coming back in new ways.
Edison was a very strong proponent of all things electrical (unless Tesla made them) and even helped make all-electric cars. Over a century ago, people were driving in cars with zero emissions because they ran on batteries like the nickel-iron batteries Edison developed. Those batteries, like those electric cars, fell out of favor eventually; in part because of how long the battery took to charge and how slowly it discharged the stored energy. Researchers at Stanford University have decided to revisit the battery though and have made it into something that may once again power our cars.
A common practice for improving batteries now is to add carbon to the electrodes. Normally the carbon is just sprinkled in, but the Stanford researchers decided to be more exact in how the carbon is added. By growing iron oxide and nickel hydroxide crystals on sheets of graphene and multi-walled carbon nanotubes, the researchers have successfully reduced the charging time of their battery and increased its discharge rate by a factor of 1000.
Unfortunately the new nickel-iron battery design does have some flaws, including a low energy density. This means the battery could not be used to directly power an electric car. However, it could be used to assist the lithium-ion batteries when needed. The researchers are definitely keen on improving this design though, because unlike lithium-ion batteries, the nickel-iron batteries are cheap to make and considerably less hazardous to use and make.