IBM Researches Develop Promising Lithium-Air Battery

Battery 500 coalition hopes to have full-scale prototype ready by 2013, with commercial batteries to follow by around 2020.

Published: 09-Jan-2012

ONE of the biggest drawbacks with owning an electric vehicle (EV) is range anxiety - a driver's nagging fear that the battery charge will not get them to their destination. Now IBM claims to have solved a fundamental problem that may lead to the creation of a battery with an 800-kilometre (500-mile) range - letting EVs potentially compete with most petrol engines for the first time.

Standard electric vehicles use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, which are bulky and rarely provide 160 kilometres (100 miles) of driving before they run down.

A newer type, known as a lithium-air cell, is more attractive because it has theoretical energy densities more than 1000 times greater than the Li-ion type, putting it almost on a par with gasoline. Instead of using metal oxides in the positive electrode, lithium-air cells use carbon, which is lighter and reacts with oxygen from the air around it to produce an electrical current.

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