Researchers at UK’s University of Cambridge have recently developed a lithium oxygen battery that could ultimately replace lithium ion batteries in electric cars, providing them with a longer range between charges. The battery prototype overcomes a number of barriers that have held back the development of this technology including size, price and power.
According to the scientists, the energy density—a measure of energy stored for a given weight—in lithium oxygen batteries, also known as lithium air batteries, could be ten times that of Li-ion batteries, approaching that of gasoline. This could enable electric vehicles to travel hundreds of kilometers between charging.
The scientists claim that the new batteries may also be a fifth of the weight and a fifth of the cost of existing Li-ion batteries—factors that have been a huge problem in the development of EVs.
Commenting on the project, Clare Grey, a Cambridge professor of materials chemistry who spearheaded the research, said that it is a step towards a practical battery, though with several obstacles ahead.
The researchers believe it could be more than ten years before a practical lithium oxygen battery is ready, in part because the ability of the battery to charge and discharged is currently very low. According to Grey, it is very early to measure the range limits of lithium oxygen battery in vehicles.
As compared to other lithium oxide battery research, the Cambridge prototype utilizes lithium hydroxide rather than lithium peroxide in its construction, and an electrode made of graphene, a form of carbon. The scientists say that this results in a more stable and efficient battery that can be recharged over 2,000 times and currently attains an efficiency rate of around 93 percent.
The sale of battery-powered cars that are currently powered by Li-ion batteries have been slow to take off due to cost and range anxiety. Car models such as the Nissan Leaf have a driving range or around 250 kilometers between charges.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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