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Breakthrough in lithium-air cell technology

Wed, 08/15/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Advances made in lithium-air battery technology by researchers at the University of St Andrews, Fife, Scotland, could provide ten times more energy density per mass unit than conventional lithium-ion batteries.

Battery chemist Peter Bruce believes the driving range of EV’s can be pushed beyond the 300 mile driving range with the lithium air technology which he believes has the potential to provide a transformational shift in transport.

If successful, lithium-air batteries could decrease the weight of the battery pack because they use oxygen to charge the electrodes. The design would be of a similar design to zinc-air batteries used in hearing aids.

A previous stumbling block to using lithium-air cells has been the unstable chemical reaction causing the battery to fail after a couple of cycles.  This may be overcome with the work done at St Andrews where they were able to run a lithium-air lab cell for 100 charge-discharge cycles.

Clearly there is a long way to go before this could be a commercially practical option, but this step is part of a giant leap in the future of battery technology.

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