Researchers claim improved performance from lithium-air battery

The search for a more efficient and powerful electric car battery may have taken a significant step forward. Scientists from a Japanese university presented their work on lithium-air batteries at a meeting of the American Chemical Society this week. The researchers say they have made new progress on a so-called breathing battery that has the potential to one day replace the lithium-ion technology in electric vehicles.

“Lithium-air batteries are lightweight and deliver a large amount of electric energy,” said Nobuyuki Imanishi, a Ph.D student at Mie University. “Many people expect them to one day be used in electric vehicles.”

The lithium-air battery, versions of which have been around since the 1970s, uses air to oxidize the lithium rather than a conventional cathode. This makes the rechargeable battery lighter, and also potentially more powerful than the conventional lithium-ion battery. Lithium-air batteries have very high energy density, said to be comparable to that of gasoline.

lithum-air-battery-SEI-aqueous-anode-cathode-electrolyte-Amercian-Chemical-Society-EDIWeekly
Schematic of aqueous lithium-air battery (does not represent the Japanese design described).

One type of electrolyte used in lithium-air batteries is water. The aqueous lithium-air battery has a lithium anode, a carbon cathode, and an aqueous electrolyte, consisting of water and dissolved lithium salts. The advantage of the aqueous design is that the lithium is protected from gases in the atmosphere and can react quickly at the air electrode.

A drawback of the aqueous type lithium-air battery is that lithium reacts with water, leading to the buildup of a solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), which leads to capacity fade over thousands of charge-recharge cycles. The lithium must therefore be insulated from the water by means of a solid barrier, usually glass or ceramic. These, however, reduce the power of the battery.

To deal with the issue of lithium’s vulnerability to SEI buildup, the Japanese team developed a layered approach to protecting the lithium, sandwiching a polymer electrolyte with high conductivity and a solid electrolyte in between the lithium electrode and the watery solution. The result, according to their press statement, was a unit “with the potential to pack almost twice the energy storage capacity, as measured in Watt hours per kilogram (Wh/kg), as a lithium-ion battery.”

Researcher Imanishi explained, “Our system’s practical energy density is more than 300 Wh/kg, That’s in contrast to the energy density of a commercial lithium-ion battery, which is far lower, only around 150Wh/kg.”

The battery’s high conductivity of lithium ions, and its ability to discharge and recharge 100 times, indicate that it could have great promise

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Bill Gates betting we can invent our way to a clean energy world
  • Porter Airlines seeks to extend island airport runway for jets
  • Canada's oil and gas industry gathering in Toronto for two-day forum
  • Ontario's food industry poised for growth
  • Progress made on Detroit River cleanup: fish no longer smells
  • Game over for Hydrogen fuel cells? Not really — but an explosion in Norway halts sales of hydrogen fuel cell cars locally
  • Researchers claim breakthrough in artificial photosynthesis
  • Gardening in Space a Challenge for NASA
  • Alberta's oil and gas rebounds - must contend with shortage of workers
  • Infrastructure Ontario seeks proposals for Highway 427 expansion
  • World's fastest electric car sets new performance benchmark for EVs
  • Manufacturing down in February in both Canada and US
  • Mahle breaks through in Engineered Design with its magnet-free and maintenance free electric motor.
    Engineered Design Breakthrough: Magnet-Free Electric Motor May Reduce Maintenance in Electric Cars
  • Tesla is now the number one valued carmaker in America, jumping ahead of GM
  • Bombardier Challenger 350 set to fly with NetJets
  • SNC-Lavalin-China agreement could expand market for CANDUs
  • Deep Roads — researchers propose taking road expansion underground to reduce congestion and pollution
  • New MRO operation rising in former Aveos plant
  • Ontario wants to be heard at Enbridge pipeline hearings
  • Renewables will surpass natural gas, nuclear by 2016: IEA
Scroll to Top