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New lithium-air battery is a big step toward long-range electric vehicles

By midian182 · 9 replies
Oct 30, 2015
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  1. Researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK have published a new design for Lithium-air batteries that could be used to extend the single-charge driving range of electric cars to over 400 miles. The batteries are a fifth of the cost and weight of the current power packs used in electric vehicles, and have ten times the energy density.

    The design, published in Science, uses a highly porous, spongy carbon electrode constructed from graphene, made from sheets of carbon just one atom thick. The process requires additives to keep the chemical reaction driving the cell stable.

    It was found with previous lithium-air batteries that the technology was inefficient and unstable; they could only be recharged a handful of times before ceasing to function, or they sometimes simply exploded after developing minor faults. The new batteries appear to have overcome these obstacles and have so far been recharged over 2000 times without any problems.

    "While there are still plenty of fundamental studies that remain to be done, to iron out some of the mechanistic details, the current results are extremely exciting. We are still very much at the development stage, but we've shown that there are solutions to some of the tough problems associated with this technology,” said Professor Clare Grey, at Cambridge University's Department of Chemistry.

    The aim is to create lithium-air batteries which will take in regular air to fuel the chemical reaction that releases electricity: lithium ions move from the positive electrode to the negative one, where they are oxidized. The lab test units have previously only been able to operate in pure oxygen, but these prototypes can operate when that oxygen is moist.

    "What we really want is a [true] lithium-air battery - one that just takes in air, without having to remove CO2, nitrogen and water. And now we have a system that at least tolerates a lot of water."

    While the new design is a huge step in the development of the technology, Professor Grey’s team say a commercial version is still at least 10 years away.

    Permalink to story.

  2. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,519   +513

    Translation: (as is typical of such statements from other realms like fusion research) we have no fracking clue when this will be commercially viable.
  3. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,513   +900

    New battery tech or second coming? Which will come first? The world may never know... XD
  4. VitalyT

    VitalyT Russ-Puss Posts: 3,453   +1,732

    and then...
    Electric cars average 250 miles today. Kind of a disproportional increase for the 10-fold density increase.

    But it doesn't matter, 'cos it ain't gonna happen anyway.
  5. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 2,146   +1,222

    You must have a short memory, I remember just 5 years ago when LiPo cells were barely available and still considered experimental, now their replacing lithium ion cells in almost every application. Before lithim ion it was NiMH and before that lead acid. All of these are changes we've seen over the last 15-20 years. It will come and it will be here sooner than you think. Hell, it only took quick charge LiPo batteries about 3 years to make it to market and now they're the standard.
  6. Adhmuz

    Adhmuz TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,769   +598

    Keep in mind this isn't a standard Lithium Ion battery, it may be ten times the density, doesn't necessarily mean 10 times the capacity. Perhaps in 10 years 10 times the density would equate to 10 times the capacity, not this early in the development stage, they are focusing on making it more stable (less explosive) and working with air not pure oxygen. The weight reduction is what's really going in the right direction, one of the biggest downfalls to an electric car is the weight of the batteries.
    VitalyT and midian182 like this.
  7. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 1,519   +513

    Well, I guess we will see, but this is a significant departure from previous lithium battery technology. Lithium, as hinted in the article, is flammable in air which explains the comments about previous lithium-air batteries exploding. In fact, if you are ever in a survival situation where your cell-phone is no longer usable because the battery level is too low, you can start a fire if you have the means of puncturing a hole in the battery. ;)
  8. yRaz

    yRaz TS Evangelist Posts: 2,146   +1,222

    Ten times the ENERGY density, so, yes, 10 times the capacity is exactly what it means
  9. Yodeller

    Yodeller TS Rookie

    Cars! Cars!! Cars!!
    Cheap storage of electricity is THE need for real use of solar energy in housing. The Tessla battery pack (using lithium batteries) is a starting point but something smaller, cheaper and liekly to last years will make 24 hour use of solar energy viable. We are obsessed with electrical transport, of course a lighter battery will make immediate improvements to cars - but batteries have other vital uses.
    As a previous writer said - just look at how quickly we have seen new battery technologies on the shelf.
  10. ShahinnVI

    ShahinnVI TS Rookie

    you can say that for example that for today it needs 2 batteries to travel 250 miles but with the new battery only 1 is needed to travel 400 miles maybe that is the meaning and also remember it is lighter right. I hope it would come out sooner though we will know everything then.

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