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World's First Battery Fueled By Air

CmdrTaco posted more than 5 years ago | from the i-produce-tons-of-hot-air dept.

Power 205

Hugh Pickens writes "The Telegraph reports on the revolutionary 'STAIR' (St Andrews Air) battery could now pave the way for a new generation of electric cars, laptops and mobile phones. The cells are charged in a traditional way but as power is used an open mesh section of battery draws in oxygen from the surrounding air that reacts with a porous carbon component inside the battery, which creates more energy and helps to continually 'charge' the cell as it is being discharged. The battery has a greater storage capacity than other similar-sized cells and can emit power up to 10 times longer. 'The key is to use oxygen in the air as a re-agent, rather than carry the necessary chemicals around inside the battery,' says Professor Peter Bruce of the Chemistry Department at the University of St Andrews. 'Our target is to get a five to ten fold increase in storage capacity, which is beyond the horizon of current lithium batteries.'"

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Hope (-1, Offtopic)

spykemail (983593) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038531)

I hope these work in vibrators. Cowboy Neal's girlfriend will be pleased.

Re:Hope (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28038995)

kdawson?

Question (5, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038537)

Would there be any danger of using this in a confined space? Any clue on how much oxygen this thing is churning through?

Re:Question (1)

Philip K Dickhead (906971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038645)

They were trying only to make some sensible rendering of my Signature File.

Re:Question (5, Funny)

narfspoon (1376395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038669)

Would there be any danger of using this in a confined space?

Only if you had beans for dinner.

Re:Question (1)

creationer (985324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038683)

One word: Spaceballs.

Re:Question (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038815)

Yes, it would be extremely dangerous to use this near any source of ignition.

At least, that is unless you had some kind of highly complex extraction [bizfriendmarketing.com] device [toolstation.com] to remove the oxygen build up.

Re:Question (4, Interesting)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038897)

Ummmmm... I am more referring to its consuming oxygen that might otherwise be used for breathing.

Re:Question (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038923)

A fair point.

I guess I should maybe, you know, open a window, or open an air vent? :)

Re:Question (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039025)

That might be interesting on an airplane. So the question becomes, if this battery is so awesome, and it is used in laptops, then what? Do the airline begin banning laptops on their planes? Only ones that have this type of battery? How do they check?

So, getting back to the original question which TFA does not answer: how much 02 does this thing consume?

Re:Question (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28039177)

If you can open a window, it's not a confined space.

Re:Question (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28039383)

If you cannot leave your current planet, it's a confined space.

Re:Question (3, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039477)

I'm pretty sure I'm stuck within this universe.

THE WALLS ARE CLOSING IN, MAN!

Re:Question (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039019)

Offtopic? This thing consumes oxygen when it charges.

Mods must be having a bad day, or just not reading TFA. Oh yeah, this is SlashDot. Par for the course.

Re:Question (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039321)

What do you expect, with all the new users that came over from 4chan now getting into to "eligible for moderation" zone?
Just look at the amount of 4chan memes that pop up around here.

Re:Question (2, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039741)

Sorry to Chocolate Rain on your parade, but urnotdoinitrite.

Re:Question (2, Informative)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039143)

Yes, it would be extremely dangerous to use this near any source of ignition. At least, that is unless you had some kind of highly complex extraction [bizfriendmarketing.com] device [toolstation.com] to remove the oxygen build up.

Sigh. I had this serious reply written up explaining how you had it backwards - it removes the oxygen from the air etc etc ...

Then I clicked the links. Good thing, I would've earned a "whoosh" otherwise...

Re:Question (4, Funny)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038963)

Who knows, but it certainly gives new meaning to vaporware.

Re:Question (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039281)

The main question is: Does it transform the oxygen, or does it get released on usage?

If it transforms it, then it should be a law, to plant an equivalent amount of plants (underwater or normal) so that the oxygen is transformed back.

Re:Question (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039347)

You know plants breathe oxygen too, right ?

Re:Question (2, Informative)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039441)

They consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen.

CO2 + 2 H2O + energy becomes CH2O + H2O + O2

Re:Question (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039701)

You should have followed the link [wikipedia.org] you posted. Ok, I said breathe instead of use, but they still consume it.

Re:Question (1)

FatdogHaiku (978357) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039509)

I don't know about the consumption level of this battery, but my O2 concentrator (>97% pure O2) runs at 3 liters a minute output. I realize I don't use 100% of the output, but I'll bet it's sucking a lot more oxygen out of the air than one of these batteries could... and no one has passed out at my place yet. Would I run it in a sealed room? No. But I would not use lead/acid batteries or a gas flame in a sealed room either.

Re:Question (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039657)

But, wouldn't you ultimately be using the same amount of oxygen regardless of the concentrator? i think your lungs are simply not having to work as hard to get the same amount of oxygen. Otherwise, you'd be hyperventilating. Or maybe I am not conceptualizing it correctly...

Re:Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28039705)

this reminded me of the shizuma drive, which caused a massive ionization of the atomosphere, almost killing all of humanity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_Robo_(OVA)

Powered by Air? (5, Funny)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038539)

Or is just hot air?

Re:Powered by Air? (5, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038671)

Nice headline Taco.
This is "fueled by air" in the same way an internal combustion engine is.

This is a Lithium battery. Why isn't Lithium in TFS?

Re:Powered by Air? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038723)

Well, it's a lithium battery, that also includes an in-situ carbon fuel cell to replenish itself. That's right, we're using carbon as a fuel now. It's great, it means it's totally carbon-neutral.

Re:Powered by Air? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28039067)

You're trying to be funny.

The Carbon's there only to help hold the catalyst in place along with allowing oxygen from the air into the system to react.

Li-Ion batteries are fueled by oxides (Lithium Cobalt Oxide...) in the battery. If I'm understanding this correct, the battery consumes ambient oxygen while it's discharging and produces it when it's being recharged.

So it is Carbon neutral as it doesn't put CO2 into the environment.

Re:Powered by Air? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039231)

Really? This is about the third article I've read about these cells and none of them actually got that idea across. Thanks.

Re:Powered by Air? (4, Funny)

2names (531755) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039573)

Why couldn't we double the lithium and store it in some sort of uniform structure, like a crystal...hmmm...

Re:Powered by Air? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038987)

This is "fueled by air" in the same way an internal combustion engine is.

Dang, you mean this new invention will be no more useful than the internal combustion engine? Snore.

Actually it sounds good to me. There's a reason we don't use rocket engines in our cars. Oxygen is highly reactive and available on earth everywhere there's air. Most batteries don't take advantage of that, so this one might be better. I liked the idea of the methanol-powered fuell cell [gizmag.com] "batteries" that several companies tried to launch, but being able to recharge from the wall instead of finding a bottle of methanol would be a huge advantage.

Re:Powered by Air? (3, Insightful)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039647)

This is much more than an ordinary lithium battery, and the headline is quite appropriate. Internal combustion engines are in a very real sense "fueled by air", as are our own bodies, and using the same principle to extend the life of batteries without increasing weight or volume is a very good idea. It's not totally unprecedented, either, as zinc-air batteries do this; the innovation is making them rechargeable.

Re:Powered by Air? (5, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039649)

Agreed. It's not even the first battery powered by air in this manner. As Taco ever heard of zinc-air batteries [wikipedia.org] ? These are commonly used in, among other things, hearing aids.

Re:Powered by Air? (0, Flamebait)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038781)

It's powered by the investors' money. They cram $1000 in bills into every battery and light it on fire. That's what's using up all the oxygen...

Re:Powered by Air? (4, Funny)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038861)

Neither, it's vapourware.

Thank you, thank you... Try the duck, the veal is off tonight.

CO2 ! (0)

mrops (927562) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039279)

Ummmm... Doesn't this battery, even if vapourware defeat the purpose of going hybrid or pure electrical in cars.

Today, cars run very clean, they often emit cleaner air than they breath in. They do however produce Carbon Dioxide, a greenhouse gas. The goal is to reduce this green house gas.

What are we gaining here if we switch to electric yet still produce CO2, article claims, the battery takes in oxygen and reacts with carbon, I only know of two reaction between Carbon and Oxygen. One produces Carbon mono oxide, the other carbon dioxide. In all likely hood this produces CO2.

So whats the point of this battery!

We come a full circle and continue to screw up earth (i.e. if we really are screwing it up by CO2)

Re:CO2 ! (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039577)

The point of this battery is that when you charge it, the oxygen is emitted again.

Who is John Galt? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28039415)

Now all we need is a motor that runs on ambient static electricity.

Don't depelete my oxygen (-1)

qwertphobia (825473) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038543)

for a guy who's turning blue

Any side-effects or drawbacks? (5, Interesting)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038571)

Sometimes things sound too good to be true. Risk-free money smuggling from Nigeria. Enormous genitals from a few pills. Whiter teeth using only household chemicals. Articulate and clean presidential candidate who seems like he can fix anything.

Extending the life of batteries using the air sounds like a great thing. But what is the hidden problem that we are overlooking here? Will the chemical reaction of the battery and oxygen deplete the batteries faster than standard LIon? Are the batteries heavier? Output less power? Require usage patterns that aren't typical for normal users?

It just sounds too good to be true.

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (3, Interesting)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038625)

If it reacts with the carbon, then the carbon will be used up. Sooner or later you'l have to put some more coal in it - just like a steam engine.

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (2, Insightful)

KeatonMill (566621) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038705)

Not necessarily -- the carbon could act as a catalyst or component that is cycled throughout the charge-discharge process.

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039095)

but O2 -> O2 isn't a reaction so the Oxygen HAS to react with something.Experience suggests carbon is the best candidate to react, so carbon as a catalyst is unlikely.

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (5, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039479)

The carbon is only used as a reaction matrix and an electrode. It's a lithium air battery. The oxygen reacts with the lithium during discharge to create lithium oxides. During recharge the oxygen is liberated and returned to the atmosphere.

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28038807)

All things that reacts dies off eventually (see lead battery acid as an example), it's more a question of when. If the reactions are small yet provide a large amount of energy, replacement isn't an issue. If the reactions uses up alot of the carbon in a short time frame, it will have to be very well damn cheap(to become disposables) to make it in the market.

The battery will most likely be at least 90% of the reactants or otherwise they just put the nessesary stuff within the operating device itself so a refill will be almost no different then replacing the battery itself.

Well, if you truely want a green battery, this isn't it as you won't be recharging the battery off of some other green power but it's definitely a nice improvement in battery technology assuming there isn't big issues that will prevent it from entering the market (like being too expensive).

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (2, Informative)

Efreet (246368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039077)

Presumably the oxygen is going to released again when you recharge the battery. That's what recharging is, reversing the chemical reactions that took place during the discharge.

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (2, Informative)

KeatonMill (566621) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038691)

IANAC (chemist), but it sounds like what they are doing is take a reagent for the electrical reaction from the surrounding environment so they don't have to store it on board the battery -- thus freeing up additional weight/volume for the "charge" itself.

This might imply a problem with scale since you would need the infrastructure within the battery for safely extracting the reagent and, upon a recharge cycle, releasing it.

I wouldn't be surprised to see something like "DO NOT RECHARGE NEAR AN OPEN FLAME" written in huge letters all over the final product.

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (1)

WillDraven (760005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039459)

Sort of like the "DO NOT PUT IN FIRE" already on every battery we produce? If these things put out enough oxygen to produce a localised fire hazard while recharging, well they must be recharging pretty damn quick. I would consider this a feature. It seems to me all we would need to do to mitigate this risk (if it is even there) is make sure the recharging stations have a little fan in them to disperse the oxygen quickly.

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28038803)

I know what you mean. That articulate and clean President ended up being a nigger.

Yuck!

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (0, Offtopic)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039501)

Sometimes things sound too good to be true. Risk-free money smuggling from Nigeria. Enormous genitals from a few pills.

You've obviously never heard of Viagra. :-)

Re:Any side-effects or drawbacks? (1)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039575)

Either that or it's like a fuel cell with oxygen as an electrode (eg. stuff used by NASA in the 1960s) but somewhat more advanced and the journalist has misunderstood and just called it a weird battery.

Wow. (3, Interesting)

moogied (1175879) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038585)

Kind of suprised at the jokes so far... I know that every 2 days we get some kind of "world changing" discovery/invention, but this one has very serious and amazing implications for nerds. Imagine charging your laptop once a week. Seriously.. if you could take your phone out with you on vacation and not worry about a charger. Theres a million serious uses for this, and I just really pray its not vaporware. ..well I guess I kind of do pray its vaporware?

Re:Wow. (5, Insightful)

moon3 (1530265) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038681)

/. gets this kind of miracle technology often, most of the stuff has also an "Achilles heel" that prevents real worlds deployment.

This might be an exception (hopefully), but until you can get one off NewEgg people stay cool and cautious.

Re:Wow. (0, Offtopic)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038715)

I bet that within the next 20 posts some twat starts on about catalysts.

Vaporware (0, Redundant)

sigxcpu (456479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038809)

I'm for inventing a battery powered by vaporware.
Just imagine the /. headline...

Re:Wow. (2, Interesting)

cvtan (752695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038997)

There are a million serious uses for telepathy or communicating with aliens. Doesn't mean it exists. Nearly all announcements like this are designed to generate venture $. Fake stuff.

Buy shares now (2, Interesting)

beefsprocket (1152865) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038587)

Tremendously good idea. And perhaps in a hundred years when the world runs on these batteries, those shares of thin air that I bought from Wall Street might be worth millions once oxygen is in short supply.

Is it rechargable? (4, Interesting)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038609)

We have zinc-air elements for decades now, but they are not rechargeable.

Re:Is it rechargable? (2, Interesting)

Andy_R (114137) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038847)

The second link in the article says yes, it is rechargeable.

Re:Is it rechargable? (3, Informative)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038887)

Well, given the summary (and the article it plagiarizes from) explicitly says:

The cells are charged in a traditional way but as power is used or 'discharged' an open mesh section of battery draws in oxygen from the surrounding air.

Okay, sure, that's a little vague. 'course, if one were to actually go through the trouble of RTFA, you'd see this quote from the second article:

Researchers in the UK are developing a rechargeable lithium-air battery that could deliver a ten-fold increase in energy capacity compared to that of currently available lithium-ion cells.

So, I would guess that, yes, it's rechargeable.

Re:Is it rechargable? (2, Insightful)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038975)

These elements, according to the coverage at The Register, are lithium-oxygen. The porous carbon storage matrix is just that, and plays more a mechanical role than a chemical one. I do so wish /. stories would link to articles that report science with at least the simplest facts right.

Almost there (5, Funny)

cat_jesus (525334) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038651)

Now we just need to create a battery that recharges using CO2. That would be the invention of the century.

Re:Almost there (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038695)

You are in luck [wikipedia.org] .

(I love having to wait five minutes between posts)

Re:Almost there (1)

smoker2 (750216) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039483)

Why is this insightful ?

When I can plug a carrot into my portable $whatever then it would be useful, until then it has nothing to do with electrical charge, which is what this story is all about.

Re:Almost there (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039759)

You can burn a tree and use the energy for something useful. Then plan another tree and remove the carbon from the air. You'd almost think it was a renewable source of energy.

Advancing Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28038653)

as power is used an open mesh section of battery draws in oxygen from the surrounding air

Next thing you know, they'll be inventing a battery that draws power from empty regions of subspace [stargate-s...utions.com] .

Hearing aids and Zinc-air batteries (4, Interesting)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038697)

Zinc-air batteries have been in use for a long, long time. These were especially popular in miniature hearing aids.

Your friendly neighbourhood environmental paranoic (-1, Flamebait)

amn108 (1231606) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038751)

Now, instead of (and after) producing and emitting abnormally large quantities of CO2 into our atmosphere, we add insult to injury by starting to deplete our oxygen rapidly, yes rapidly - after all we know everybody likes cars, no matter what they drive on, a 500 million or so cars that run on oxygen should do it.

Animals can't drive cars, and neither can plants. But is is our oxygen, right?

Congratulations, my fellow cancer cells! We seem to be spreading :-)

more promises of better storage capacity? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28038849)

WHY do I keep hearing about these friggen new battery technologies that promise to give 5x/10x/100x the storage capacity of conventional batteries but I never see them on the market?? EVER! We're still using lithium-ion batteries. It just doesn't make sense. How do we know this one is plausable?? hmmmm

Re:Your friendly neighbourhood environmental paran (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039035)

500 million or so cars that run on oxygen should do it.

Well, normal cars already do run on oxygen, just like you and I (that's why you have to change your air filter once in a while!) so this wouldn't make that any worse - as far as I know, extra CO2 rather than a shortage of oxygen is our problem, which it doesn't seem this would solve.

I wouldn't feel too guilty about using it in a laptop or flashlight though.

Re:Your friendly neighbourhood environmental paran (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039361)

These take in oxygen when they run and give off oxygen when they recharge. The only issues, then, are the energy to make the batteries and the energy to recharge them. That comes from somewhere, and likely much of it is from burning fossil fuels. At least it'd be at central fossil fuel plants with scrubbers and carbon sequestration, which can't be done properly in a car.

Re:Your friendly neighbourhood environmental paran (2, Informative)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039761)

You seriously underestimate the amount of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere. Even massive forest fires do not change the global concentration of oxygen enough for anyone to notice.

Questions (2, Interesting)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038827)

After the improvements, get the following data together:
1) Energy density - including ventilation
2) Physical expansion during charge/discharge.
3) Degradation with each cycle - i.e. how many recharges before capacity is reduced xx%.
4) Performance over temperature range (-20C to say 60C)
5) Durability of the material.
The list goes on and on. It sounds like a nice lab experiment at this time.

Re:Questions (3, Informative)

park3r (833325) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039175)

I read an article about this yesterday that said they estimate it will be at least five years before this technology is commercially available.

So yeah, a lab experiment is all it really is at this point.

What's the output? (2, Interesting)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038905)

If it's sucking in O2, what's the output?

Considering there's carbon in there my guess will be something along the lines of CO2 or CO.

Will this be better than burning fuel?

Then again, maybe it's not meant to be an environmental friendly solution, but more of an awesome-battery solution.

Re:What's the output? (1)

GargamelSpaceman (992546) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039239)

The oxygen combines with the lithium and stays in the battery - it's a solid i believe. Then when you recharge it, the oxygen goes back into the atmosphere - don't recharge in a confined space while smoking.

Re:What's the output? (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039311)

It's lithium oxygen with a porous carbon storage matrix. The oxygen combines with the lithium, not with the carbon. The Register covered this [theregister.co.uk] , and I'd say much better than The Telegraph. Then again, if there were two papers I'd expect to always be outdone by El Reg they'd probably be The Telegraph and The Daily Mail.

Re:What's the output? (4, Informative)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039331)

Ok, second time I've had to do this; but, clearly the articles are pooorly written and do not describe the technology well, if at all.

It's a lithium-air battery in a carbon matrix. One electrode is lithium metal, one electrode is carbon. The oxygen, supplied by air and entering through the porous carbon electrode, reacts with the lithium to create lithium oxide. When the battery is recharged, the oxygen is liberated, returned to the atmosphere, and the lithium ions are returned to (plated on) the lithium metal electrode.

No CO2.

The output is electricity during discharge and oxygen during charging.

Re:What's the output? (1)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039677)

There is no "output"; the carbon is only a catalyst/adsorbent. It's actually lithium that's oxidized, and lithium peroxide forms. Half reactions are as follows:

CnLi ---> Li+ + Cn (graphite) + e
2Li+ + 2e + O2 --C/MnO2 cat.-> Li2O2

The first is on the graphite-lithium intercalate electrode (not show in the article, but it's standard in Li-Ion cells).

billions of years ago (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#28038921)

for billions of years, for billions of generations, strange archaic anaerobacteria and primitive algae slaved their entire lives, heck, their entire species, to make your atmosphere one fifth oxygen

all so you could one day watch the family guy on hulu.com at a starbucks in pasadena

doesn't seem just

Re:billions of years ago (4, Funny)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039235)

Slaved? Slaved? Oxygen is their poop!!! We're finally just recycling the damn stuff. And yes I think that watching Family Guy on Hulu at a Starbucks is a fine use for archaic anaerobacteria poop... it's strangely fitting in fact.

The Science News Cycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28038983)

The Science News Cycle [phdcomics.com] .

New Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28039009)

World's First Air-fueled Battery

Wake me in 2014 (1)

objekt (232270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039011)

Seems like every new thing is going to be commercially available in 5 years. Why can't we have the future now? Do I have to move to Japan?

Re:Wake me in 2014 (4, Funny)

Overfiend1976 (979710) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039211)

Seems like every new thing is going to be commercially available in 5 years. Why can't we have the future now? Do I have to move to Japan?

No, you had to move to Japan 5 years ago :P

Lithium-oxygen, not carbon-oxygen (3, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039017)

This coverage at The Register [theregister.co.uk] says they are lithium-oxygen batteries. The porous carbon matrix is for containing the chemicals and allowing the oxygen in during running and out during recharging.

Infinite energy... (1)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039043)

will finally be attained when we can harness all of the hot air being blown our way by these researchers.

I wonder... (1)

SnT2k (842980) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039089)

So if you put a couple of those together with a couple of geeks in an enclosed space for a hack-a-thon.... I wonder how long they'll last.

Re:I wonder... (1)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039199)

How long which will last? The batteries or the geeks?

Battery weight (1)

russotto (537200) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039097)

So the batteries oxidize lithium or some lithium compound as they discharge, and release the oxygen when charged.

Does this mean that the batteries actually increase, significantly, in weight as they discharge? And if so, is power to weight/energy to weight ratio considered while charged or discharged?

smells like hot air (3, Informative)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039115)

creates more energy

Two problems here:
1. you can't create energy
2. reacting oxygen with some carbon substance is called combustion and while it does indeed burn, it doesn't make a battery

Re:smells like hot air (2, Informative)

mr_mischief (456295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039265)

Thankfully, the Telegraph and Slashdot both being what they are, it's not a carbon-oxygen battery at all. It's lithium-oxygen with a porous carbon matrix storing the lithium but allowing the oxygen to flow into and out of the chamber.

The air flowing in is actually what causes the usable energy to be released, as it is released by the oxidation of the lithium. It is recharged in a cycle of de-oxidizing the lithium.

Not the first (4, Interesting)

confused one (671304) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039133)

Certainly not the first air based battery. Zinc air and Aluminum air batteries exist. Both were evaluated for use in electric cars with zinc-air being the most favorable. Problem is that it's not rechargeable. The idea, as it was developed, was that you would "burn" your zinc fuel load (creating zinc oxide), then exchange the zinc oxide paste for a new load of zinc fuel. The zinc would be recycled via electrolysis for re-use. Clearly this plan is somewhat convoluted, and not worth persuing if high density rechargeable Li-ion batteries are available.

For reason this reminds me of Spaceballs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28039153)

where in the future, majority of energy is created this way and the government denies that there is an air shortage.

This is kind of like a fuel cell (1)

GargamelSpaceman (992546) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039165)

A fuel cell is an electrochemical conversion device. It produces electricity from fuel (on the anode side) and an oxidant (on the cathode side), which react in the presence of an electrolyte. The reactants flow into the cell, and the reaction products flow out of it, while the electrolyte remains within it. Fuel cells can operate virtually continuously as long as the necessary flows are maintained.

Fuel cells are different from electrochemical cell batteries in that they consume reactant from an external source, which must be replenished ^[1] -- a thermodynamically open system. By contrast batteries store electrical energy chemically and hence represent a thermodynamically closed system.

- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_cell [wikipedia.org]

This thing is sort of half way to being a fuel cell, the air flows in, but the fuel and reaction products also stay in.

I wonder if one's laptop gets significantly heavier with one of these batteries as the fuel is oxidized since the reaction products include both the weight of the fuel and of the oxygen used to burn it..

"Man, I've been working all day and this laptop feels like it weighs a ton" " It does!"

You iNsensitive Clod? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28039243)

inventing 3xcuses

And the big deal is? (0, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039297)

Hey, guess what? Odds are, you already use a battery like this [wikipedia.org] every day. Okay, not exactly like this, but the point is that the average car battery has a vent for a reason.

Subject (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039429)

I hope you fucking hippies can still boast about how green your car is when the entire population of earth dies gasping for the oxygen your batteries stole. God damn you.

(readers who don't understand humor and wish to rebut me at length may form a queue to the left).

More informative article (5, Informative)

Tweenk (1274968) | more than 5 years ago | (#28039637)

There is next to no information in the first article... this one is much more informative:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/05/19/lithium_oxygen_stair_battery/ [theregister.co.uk]

The concept (taking one of the reagents from air) is not new. There were zinc-air batteries for decades, and they are widely used. They have one of the highest energy densities of all types of commercially available batteries.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc-air_battery [wikipedia.org]

Seems like four years ago somebody even figured out how to make them electrically rechargeable (before that, the usual method of recharge was to replace the zinc plates and remove oxide waste, which was facilitated by cell design).
http://www.eetimes.com/news/semi/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=164903727 [eetimes.com]

However, if those new batteries use carbon instead of zinc, they might have a higher theoretical upper bound on energy density. It looks like they're using graphite-lithium intercalate for the negative electrode (a standard thing), and the positive electrode is essentially a combined catalyst/adsorbent for Li2O2 which forms during electricity generation.

CnLi ---> Li+ + Cn + e
2Li+ + 2e + O2 --cat.-> Li2O2

Note that the first article is rather bogus: O2 does not "recharge" the battery, it is only a reagent.

I'm not familiar with the cost breakdown for the components of Li-ion batteries, but lithium seems like a major contributor, so this might not be much cheaper than the traditional Li-ion.

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