New Lithium-Air Battery Has 90 Percent Efficiency and Could Revolutionize Electric Cars

First Posted: Nov 02, 2015 07:40 AM EST

Scientists have officially developed a working lithium-oxygen battery with a high energy density that's more than 90 percent efficient. The battery can be recharged more than 2000 times, which may be revolutionary for batteries as a whole.

Lithium-oxygen, or lithium-air, batteries have been touted as the "ultimate" battery due to their theoretical energy density, which is ten times that of a lithium-ion battery. Such a high energy density would be comparable to that of gasoline, and could create an electric car with a battery that is a fifth of the cost and a fifth of the weight of those currently on the market.

With that said, there are a few practical challenges with these batteries; though in this case, it seems as if researchers have overcome these obstacles. They precisely engineered the structure of the electrode, changing it to a highly porous form of graphene, adding lithium iodide and changing the chemical makeup of the electrolyte.

The researchers created a lab-based demonstrator of this type of battery that has a higher capacity, increased energy efficiency and improved stability over previous attempts.

"What we've achieved is a significant advance for this technology and suggests whole new areas for research-we haven't solved all the problems inherent to this chemistry, but our results do show routes forward towards a practical device," said Clare Grey, the lead author of the new study, in a news release. "While there are still plenty of fundamental studies that remain to be done, to iron out some of the mechanistic details, the current results are extremely exciting-we are still very much at the development stage, but we've shown that there are solutions to some of the tough problems associated with this technology."

The findings are published in the journal Science.

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