New lithium-air battery survives hundreds of cycles

“Batteries supply electrons by undergoing reversible chemical reactions. That has meant that all the reactants have to be inside the battery, which adds to its weight and volume. Lithium-air batteries could potentially change that,” John Timmer reports for Ars Technica. “At one electrode, they have pure lithium metal, rather than a lithium-containing chemical. At the other, the lithium reacts with oxygen in the air. When the battery is charged, this reaction is reversed, and the oxygen is returned to our atmosphere.”

“With far fewer chemicals permanently inside the battery, it’s possible to achieve a much higher energy density—there have been demonstrations of lithium-air batteries with an energy density five times that of current lithium-ion tech,” Timmer reports. “The only drawback? They have a lifespan of about a month, in part because both oxygen and metallic lithium are pretty reactive and in part because air offers a lot of things other than oxygen that can react.”

“Now, a team of researchers has figured out a way to protect against many of these reactions and showed that the resulting battery can survive hundreds of charge/discharge cycles in an air-like atmosphere,” Timmer reports. “Which probably means the researchers are ready to figure out what goes wrong when this material meets actual air. The hope is that will be an easier issue to solve.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Batteries are one of, if not the, biggest bottlenecks to technological advancement across a wide range of disciplines. When finally achieved, breakthrough new battery technology will open the innovation floodgates.

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    1. As optimistic as I am about Apple and improved battery tech, I am not going to hold my breath and pray for “soon.”

      At least dozens of research groups are spending huge sums trying to come up with the next generation battery.

      Batteries need to survive wide temperature ranges, high draw and recharge currents & remain safe from overheating and the effects of shorts & occasional physical damage all during their lifetime.

      My guess is that to get a truly new chemical format with longer life and higher amp-hour storage for a battery is still likely at least 5 years off.

      The company that comes up with such a battery is going to have to be darned sure of its capability and safety or it will be rejected by retail customers.

  1. Lithium Air batteries have been researched for decades now. Don’t see how it applies to mobile electronics that have waterproofing since you need to open holes to let the battery ‘breathe’ to work.

  2. As stated in the article, metallic lithium is “pretty reactive.” That is clearly evident when you drop a tiny piece of lithium in a beaker of water (don’t).

    Batteries containing even modest amounts of metallic lithium would appear to be a serious safety hazard. There is a reason that metallic lithium and sodium are shipped in oil.

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