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A new class of high-energy rechargeable batteries – molten air

(Nanowerk Spotlight) Oxygen is an advantageous battery storage material as it is freely available from the air and does not need to be carried with the other battery components. Unlike the lithium-ion batteries used today, lithium–oxygen batteries do not require metal oxide cathodes to produce electrochemical power, instead generating power from reactions with oxygen in the atmosphere. Air has been widely used in single-use disposable batteries, such as hearing aid batteries. However, attempts to date to use air in rechargeable batteries has not led to viable systems.
For example, lithium-air batteries have recently been attempted by replacing the conventional Li-ion battery cathode with air (see for instance: “A nanoscale glimpse of batteries in action”). However, to date these lithium-air batteries have not met with success due to their need for non-reactive resistive electrolytes and the low density of lithium compounds which leads to a low volumetric battery capacity.
A new class of rechargeable batteries – ‘molten air’ batteries – solve these challenges by using highly conductive molten electrolytes and very high capacity multiple electron compounds such as carbon and vanadium diboride (VB2). Unlike prior rechargeable molten batteries, the molten air battery is not burdened by the weight of the active chargeable cathode material. The rechargeable molten air electrode instead uses oxygen directly from the air to yield high battery capacity.


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