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MIT Begins In-Depth Exploration of Lithium-Air Battery Technology.

Lithium-Air Battery Tech Could Store Four Times More Energy than Today’s Accumulators
[10/10/2012 10:07 AM]
by Anton Shilov

Lithium-air batteries promise to store four times more energy than conventional batteries. Unfortunately, exactly what goes inside advanced lithium-air batteries as they charge and discharge has always been impossible to observe directly. Now, a new technique developed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers promises to change that, allowing study of this electrochemical activity as it happens.
Exploring Lithium-Oxygen Reaction

A lack of understanding of how lithium reacts with oxygen has hindered the development of practical lithium-air batteries, but this type of battery offers the prospect of storing up to four times as much energy as today’s lithium-ion batteries for a given weight, and so could be a key enabling technology for energy storage, among other uses. Most existing lithium-air batteries suffer from large energy losses during charging and discharging, and have been unable to successfully sustain repeated cycles.

This new method for studying the reactions of such batteries in detail could help researchers in their quest to design better batteries. Such improvements to lithium-air batteries could potentially enhance round-trip efficiency (energy retention between charge and discharge) and cycle life (the ability to charge and discharge a battery many times).

This study showed that using metal oxides as the oxygen electrode could potentially enable a lithium-air battery to maintain its performance over many cycles of operation. The device used in this study was designed purely for research, not as a practical battery design in itself; if replicated in a real cell, Lu says, such designs could greatly improve the longevity of lithium-air batteries.


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