While still years away from any potential commercial use, scientists have said they have now developed a battery with enhanced technology that could deliver electricity to electric cars and other energy-hungry devices far better than today’s lithium-ion versions.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge announced recently they created a laboratory demonstration model for a new type of battery – called a lithium-oxygen battery – which is safe from many of the issues that have impeded the development of this technology. The new battery comes with increased high energy density, efficiency is at around 93 percent and can incur charge cycles in excess of 2,000 units. The development has been called “a step towards a practical battery, albeit with many hurdles ahead” by Clare Grey, a Cambridge professor of materials chemistry who acted as lead researcher. The researchers pointed out they still have a long way to go in part of the limited capability to charge and discharge and practical lithium-oxygen batteries were most likely at least a decade away.
Electric cars have not gained widespread consumer acceptance in part due to the limited range provided by today’s battery packs, unable to reach the one delivered by a regular gasoline engine and the fact that recharging is very slow. The lithium-ion rechargeable battery has been available for mainstream usage since 1991 and has been the driver behind the mobile electronics revolution including laptops or smartphones. The new lithium-oxygen batteries, meanwhile, could have the same energy density as a traditional combustion engine while also being sold at a fifth of the cost of today’s lithium-ion batteries and weighing just a fifth of their counterpart’s heft.