A sample text widget

Etiam pulvinar consectetur dolor sed malesuada. Ut convallis euismod dolor nec pretium. Nunc ut tristique massa.

Nam sodales mi vitae dolor ullamcorper et vulputate enim accumsan. Morbi orci magna, tincidunt vitae molestie nec, molestie at mi. Nulla nulla lorem, suscipit in posuere in, interdum non magna.

Will Lithium-Air Battery Rescue Electric Car Drivers From ‘Range Anxiety’?

ARGONNE, Ill. — Twenty miles southwest of Chicago, government researchers are pursuing the automotive version of Mr. Right.

Skip to next paragraph
More News From ClimateWire
A New Cost-Sharing Plan for Transmitting More Renewable Energy
Sale of Chicago Climate Exchange to ICE Reinforces Weak Carbon Market
Getting the Bugs Out, a New Approach to Renewable Fuels
Jerry Brown Defends Embattled State Climate Law but Is Open to ‘Adjustments’
Senior Dems Talk Tough on Climate, Immigration

A blog about energy, the environment and the bottom line.

Go to Blog » He’s powerful. He has endurance. He isn’t too expensive to have around. And he never, ever explodes.

That’s one way to think of the perfect car battery, which will have to balance many different factors to lure the American masses to the electric car.

For the moment, though, Mr. Right is just a set of equations in a notebook.

“Theoretically, it works on paper,” said Don Hillebrand, who directs the Center for Transportation Research at Argonne National Laboratory.

At Argonne National Laboratory and elsewhere, researchers are just beginning to crack the basic science behind a promising technology: lithium-air batteries. If their theories are right, these batteries will have five to 10 times the energy of lithium-ion batteries, the big battery pack that’s powering the first wave of electric-drive cars.

“Lithium-air is where we’re going,” Hillebrand said. “You can’t foresee the future, but right now, that’s the place where I think we see the endpoint, the end solution for … the battery. The battery everybody’s looking for.”

But as engineers get closer to perfecting the lithium-ion variety, lithium-air has a long journey to replace the batteries of yesteryear.

A good idea that’s still en route

“Nickel-metal hydride’s an adult. Lithium-ion is a developing adolescent. And lithium-air, we’re just looking at the ultrasounds,” Hillebrand said.

Some say lithium-air will only carry triple the energy of lithium-ion; others project a hundredfold increase. Regardless of the estimates, all agree that lithium-ion could use a tuneup.

The reason has to do with “battery chemistry,” a term that describes what makes the device go.

Batteries have an anode and a cathode, two materials that exchange ions — in this case, lithium ions. When the ions go one way, the battery charges up; when they go the other way, the battery releases its charge.

Different materials for the anode and cathode, of course, affect this back-and-forth movement. For example, they can speed it up, move a larger number of ions, or reduce the number of times the battery can repeat the exchange — that is, shorten the battery’s life.

Lithium-ion chemistry is considered an improvement over past efforts to power electric cars. Previous options were so large and heavy that they were just barely economical to lug around. Lithium-ion packed so much more energy into less space and weight that major automakers christened it for their latest lineup of electric and hybrid cars, including Toyota’s Prius, General Motors’ Volt, and Nissan’s Leaf.

The change came at a price, though. Today, lithium-ion batteries are commonplace and commercialized for laptops and cell phones. But the larger batteries needed for cars remain their most expensive component — and the one deemed most essential to helping millions reach the road.

In the coming years, many expect these costs to decline. Even so, plenty in the battery field foresee the day that lithium-ion, so essential to the present day, will face retirement.

A battery that could challenge petroleum


1 comment to Will Lithium-Air Battery Rescue Electric Car Drivers From ‘Range Anxiety’?

  • Go Green With Renewable Energy-National renewable energy. Are you serious about it?Green Earth BlogsRechargeable Batteries ReviewsSmall rechargeable batteries to take wherever you goBattery Future – Building a better battery – Wholesale Electronics NewsWill Lithium-Air Battery Rescue Electric Car Drivers From ‘Range Anxiety’? […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.