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.


Toyota RAV4 EV is Tesla-Powered. Photo:EV World

Company estimates cost of battery backs could be one-third that of systems being developed by other electric car manufacturers.

Tata Indica EV electric car.

Talks said to include possible setting up battery production plants around the world.

Nissan Smyrna battery plant under construction.

All-electric Nissan LEAF will be built at Smyrna assembly facility beginning in 2012.


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