Will this Turn Out to Be the Battery Breakthrough We've Been Waiting For?It's still too early to tell if this lithium-air battery technology will perform well enough to make its way to real-world products, but the lab results that have been publicized so far are very promising. With current battery chemistry, "energy storage is limited by the lithium cobalt oxide electrode (0.5 Li/Co, 130 mAhg-1). The University of St Andrews design replaces the lithium cobalt oxide electrode with a porous carbon electrode and allows Li+ and e- in the cell to react with oxygen from the air." This could allow up an increase in storage capacity by up to 10x. Read on for more details.The EPSRC says:
The new design has the potential to improve the performance of portable electronic products and give a major boost to the renewable energy industry. The batteries will enable a constant electrical output from sources such as wind or solar, which stop generating when the weather changes or night falls.
Improved capacity is thanks to the addition of a component that uses oxygen drawn from the air during discharge, replacing one chemical constituent used in rechargeable batteries today. Not having to carry the chemicals around in the battery offers more energy for the same size battery. Reducing the size and weight of batteries with the necessary charge capacity has been a long-running battle for developers of electric cars.
I guess this means that this battery wouldn't work under water or in outter space. Not exactly a problem for most people...
Cheaper Too?Another advantage is that this new porous carbon electrode would be cheaper than the current lithium cobalt oxide component it would replace.
But of course it's still in the lab, and professor Peter Bruce of the Chemistry Department at the University of St Andrews estimates that it will be at least five years before the STAIR cell is commercially available. Still, it's good to know that this is in the pipeline. What I wonder is if this can be combined with other types of battery chemistries and other breakthroughs...
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