Scientists have shown great hopes for the lithium-air batteries , which could ultimately drive electric vehicles .
A lithium-air battery can safely hold 10 times more energy than the best lithium-ion batteries on the market today – some theoretical calculations are estimates far more promising.
Instead of using the metal oxide positive electrode, the lithium-air batteries use carbon, which is lighter and cheaper, and reacts with oxygen from ambient air to produce an electric current.
The problem is that all prototypes have proved extremely unstable and deteriorate after a few cycles of charge and discharge.
Rechargeable lithium-air stable
But a new hope is described in an article that caught the attention of the editors of Science magazine.
The team of Dr. Peter Bruce of the University of St.Andrews, UK, a group that is pioneering this field, claims to have built the first battery of lithium-air stable.
They replaced the carbon-based material used for the cathode with another material, containing inert gold nanoparticles.
The team also replaced the electrolyte, which was once made of polycarbonates or polyethers, by a solvent called DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide), which has been previously shown to be less prone to react with the cathode.
The new recipe work: the batteries bore 100 cycles of charging and discharging with a power loss of only 5%.
“The results are very encouraging in showing that all is not lost” in an attempt to make possible what would be the first important step in the technology of batteries in many years, said Researcher, heard by the magazine.
Perhaps most importantly, this result is that research has shown that it is possible to work with components very different from those of the early prototypes, but maintaining the gains of technology.
On the other hand, it can not be said that the researchers have obtained a solution ready to go to market.
The first problem is that gold is heavy and expensive, two elements to which the batteries are very sensitive.
In addition, DMSO may itself react with the lithium metal anode, destroying the electrolyte, which represent a barrier to reach the magic number of 1,000 cycles of charging and discharging, which is the nominal value for the lithium-ion batteries.
“So even though the new results are encouraging for the area, considerable work remains to be done to make the lithium-air technology in the real world,” concluded the reviewer of Science.