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IBM Creates 'Breathing' High-Density Lithium-Air Battery

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the inspirational-energy-tech dept.

Power 582

MrSeb writes "As part of IBM's Battery 500 project — an initiative started in 2009 to produce a battery capable of powering a car for 500 miles — Big Blue has successfully demonstrated a light-weight, ultra-high-density, lithium-air battery. In it, oxygen is reacted with lithium to create lithium peroxide and electrical energy. When the battery is recharged, the process is reversed and oxygen is released — in the words of IBM, this is an 'air-breathing' battery. While conventional batteries are completely self-contained, the oxygen used in a lithium-air battery comes from the atmosphere, so the battery itself can be much lighter. The main thing, though, is that lithium-air energy density is a lot higher than conventional lithium-ion batteries: the max energy density of lithium-air batteries is theorized to be around 12 kWh/kg, some 15 times greater than li-ion — and more importantly, comparable to gasoline."

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Gasoline-like energy density (4, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745867)

Your move, range anxiety crowd.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (5, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745879)

Recharge in less then 5 minutes?

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (4, Insightful)

Rhywden (1940872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745915)

Solved by standardized connectors and form factors.
Instead of charging the battery in the car, exchange the empty battery for a loaded one.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745945)

This idea is going to seem ridiculously silly in the future when batteries can charge faster than a tank can fill (Even Gen. X'ers will live to see it, I'm sure). I will seem incredible forward-thinking B-)

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (3, Insightful)

Rhywden (1940872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746099)

You'll most likely still need to drive to a "fuel station", regardless. Filling such a high capacity battery inside of five minutes requires an incredibly high current.
While certainly not impossible, the strain on energy distribution and the amount of wiring (the wire has to be thick to withstand the current!) will make it cheaper to have a few dedicated charging station rather than every house on its own.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1, Interesting)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746159)

Definitely true, we're not going to see anything more powerful than a 220V charger at home for the foreseeable future, you'll need to go to a station for a charge. But consider that there isn't even a low-flow gasoline tap on your house right now...

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (4, Insightful)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746235)

I have natural gas taps in my house. Some people have fuel oil delivered. Anyway, even if a car can be recharged in minutes at a station, it could also be charged overnight when needed.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746285)

home charging is fine for most uses. A 220 V connection can charge a leaf in 3 hours, and a 110 connection can charge one in less than 8 hours. So for home overnight charging, this is fine. level three fast charging is a complimentary technology for when you need to get topped off quickly.

pfft. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746165)

where were going, we don't need wire.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2)

Darth Snowshoe (1434515) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746213)

See, I seldom drive a car when I'm asleep.

Rather than fill a battery up in five minutes, I'd prefer to just plug it in when I drive it back into my garage at the end of the day. That covers almost every situation (except for those crazy road trips - but even then, it's unlikely we're driving non-stop for days on end.)

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746275)

I saw a fast charger (level 3, it's called) at the san diego gas and electric headquarters. Both of your issues - grid impacts and amount of wiring are not a concern. The level 3 charger dumps 50kVA into the car, and can charge a leaf from 20% to 80% in less than ten minutes. The charger has a built-in 30kWh battery pack to act as a buffer, so it only pulls 20kVA from the grid. This keeps it below a threshold that limits high-power applications. Not sure what you mean by thick wires. The cable that plugs into the car looks like a gas pump tube.

the goal of fast charging is to use it in combination with home charging. most people can charge at home, but fast charging is available as well. it takes a village! (of chargers, that is).

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

AshtangiMan (684031) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746337)

Yo dawg, I hear you like batteries

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746007)

A nice idea, but what if you didn't want to do a complete charge up for whatever reason? It would be a significant headache for swapping stations to have to carry batteries of many different levels of charge.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

Garble Snarky (715674) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746127)

Put 12 cells in each car. Replace 1-12 as needed.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

Rhywden (1940872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746157)

Why? The charge level for a battery can be determined and is an easily solvable problem.
Also, we already have rechargable batteries with the AA form factor which have capacities from 1600 mAh to 2200 mAh (last time I looked).
Just add some kind of conversion factor at the station, something akin to "equivalent to 60 liters of gas" and you're done.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (3, Insightful)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746295)

wtf? why wouldn't you want a complete charge? It's like going to exchange your propane tank but requesting a half-full tank. perhaps you're worrieda bout the weight of all those electrons?

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (3, Insightful)

caution live frogs (1196367) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746139)

Not tenable. Do you really want to trade the brand new battery in your brand new car for a used one with an unknown number of duty cycles? If so, I'd be happy to trade the fully charged battery in my MacBook for your brand new but empty one. Sure mine says "replace battery now" in the health indicator but it is fully charged and compatible with other laptops with the same battery form factor.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (4, Insightful)

Rhywden (1940872) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746239)

Ah, but that's the beauty of it: You don't need to know the number of duty cycles.
You exchange your empty battery for a charged battery with the assurance of the fuel station that this battery carries the charge you just paid for.
And if that one's empty, you'll replace it again.
Furthermore, you can insert some electronics to store and display statistics - no need to sell a dumb battery.

Again, a solvable problem.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746259)

so every new electric car gets a not-a-new battery from the common pool at a discount. perception problem solved.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

wcrowe (94389) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746271)

I think I read somewhere that an Israeli company was working on this. Their idea was to use the same connections to hold the battery as those for aircraft ordinance. The idea was that you would pull up to a station, pay a fee, drop your battery, and the old one would be removed and replaced with a fresh one, robotically. Off you go.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (5, Funny)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745921)

Drat you've got me. God forbid you have to take a half-hour break to get an 80% recharge after driving for over 8 hours at highway speed. You might even have to choke down a snack to bury your sorrows.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (0)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746013)

The problem there is the number of charging stations needed at a busy station --- fuel pumps already don't make much money for a station, increasing the time to 30 minutes would require a much higher profit margin.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746041)

So what's wrong with more charging stations? Have one at each parking spot at the station, once the infrastructure is there the individual terminals are relatively cheap.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746311)

Its electricity. Make a few large stations to capture economy of scale, and run charging cables to each parking spot.

5 mins per car with a four pump station could serve 48 cars per hour. At 30 minutes you only need 24 parking spaces to serve the same quantity.

Without all complexity of pumps, you could put a 3 storey parking garage in the footprint of a regular gas station and serve 180 cars per hour at max capacity.

Pull up, swipe credit card, the machine says go to space 34, park, plug in, and have a coffee at the attached cafe.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

stdarg (456557) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746317)

Right now a station with 6 double-sided pumps can service 12 cars at a time. 12 cars every 5 minutes is 144 cars per hour. If charging takes 1/2 an hour, you'd need 72 chargers to maintain the same number of customers. How many gas stations have room for 72 parking spots?

I think the quick change approach is better, though it'll probably mean the return of full-service gas stations, tips and all.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (5, Insightful)

dalias (1978986) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746163)

No, increasing the time to 30 minutes would mean insane profits from your customers being stuck there for 30 minutes with nothing to do but drink your coffee and eat your food.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (4, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746289)

To be fair, it may represent a different business model entirely.

Gas stations mostly operate on thin margins on the gasoline itself, with the profit center being trying to get people to walk in the door to by some snacks/drink/whatever. Generally only items that can be browsed and purchase comfortably in a minute or so, since the store doesn't want a car consuming a spot more than that.

However, having vehicles that require a lot longer to charge and can be safely recharged without the operator in attendance changes the dynamics. No longer do you have businesses that are places to replenish vehicle range primarily, but you have a wider variety of businesses where they want people to sit around for a lot longer time away from their car. Some may provide metered charging as a way to augment their revenue or recover cost of the service, some even may provide it for 'free' to draw people in the door. You can already see this happening. In my area, there are shopping malls with currently free charging access. There are also restauraunts with metered chargers. A number of employers are starting to mention free charging as a perk, in part to draw people in and in part to show off how 'green' they are.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746101)

>>>God forbid you have to take a half-hour break to get an 80% recharge

Batteries don't charge from 10% to 80% in just 30 minutes. And for good reason: They got very hot and the internal components become damaged, dramatically shortening the battery's life. (And then you have a $5000 replacement... equivalent cost to buying a whole new engine.)

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746177)

They do charge that fast but it does shorten the battery's life. One quick charge is the equivalent of 10-20 220V charges in wear IIRC.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39745967)

If made of lots of small cells that recharge in 5 minutes and then charge them all at once - imagine the current, the red wires, the bbq you can make on the charging station - then sure.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (5, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745989)

Not an absolute requirement by any means. Current cars can do an 80% recharge in half an hour, more than adequate for most people. Remember that in the future the idea will be to charge your car in the car park or at home, not just on the road. If you manage to hit the 500 mile range then half an hour to recharge your own body is probably a good idea.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746105)

Of course when 95% of charges happen at home, how many charging stations will there really be? Would there be a gas station at every corner commuters topped off with gas at home every night

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746153)

Not an absolute requirement by any means. Current cars can do an 80% recharge in half an hour, more than adequate for most people. Remember that in the future the idea will be to charge your car in the car park or at home, not just on the road. If you manage to hit the 500 mile range then half an hour to recharge your own body is probably a good idea.

Or maybe not [wikipedia.org]

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746187)

>>> If you manage to hit the 500 mile range then half an hour to recharge your own body is probably a good idea.

Nah. I drive 800 miles w/o stopping. I have food in the car that I eat as I'm going (or make a quick stop at McDonalds for take-out). Fie on taking breaks and wasting precious time.

Google car changes things (1)

Stem_Cell_Brad (1847248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746267)

If your car drives itself, the 500 mile-human-body-barrier may not be as relevant in 2020. It seems like the driverless car and this battery are slated for a similar timeline.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746347)

The challenge is that is 80% of a realitvely low capcity. If ayou can get 80% of a current 100 mile range vehicle in half an hour, that may amount to 16% of a 500 mile battery.

Recharge WHILE you drive! (4, Interesting)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746349)

Remember that in the future the idea will be to charge your car in the car park or at home, not just on the road.

Actually, in the future, it is likely that you will be able to recharge while you are driving. Here is how it will works: automatic lane control and braking systems will enable cars to travel in "platoons", with just a few inches between cars. This will greatly extend the range of your car by reducing air resistance, but the cars can also be magnetically coupled, so they can push and pull each other. So if you are on a long trip, and your battery is low, the computer in your car can automatically negotiate with other cars in the platoon and purchase power. You can use this to coast without draining your battery, or even run your engine in reverse and recharge your batteries as you drive.

Not vital... (2)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746005)

I've been with the "range anxiety" crowd for a while now... the current capacity of electric vehicles has meant you pretty much MUST own a second car, or you'll be renting a "real" car pretty often.

If my car can go 500 miles on a charge? The last time I was riding in a car that went that long without an overnight stop (which could be used for charging) was college. Now that I have actual money? If I'm going 500 miles, I fly. (And even if I was driving, I'd get a hotel room for overnight... straight-through shift driving is something I just don't do any more.)

Re:Not vital... (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746141)

500 miles at an average 60mph is a bit over 8 hours... the vast majority of drivers will make at least one 30 minute stop for food, rest, etc sometime over an 8+ hour trip so if this goes mainstream, the applications it won't work well for would be more an exception than the rule. Hell, you could go NY to LA and only stop to charge 7 or 8 times... I'd have to stop for gas more often than that.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (4, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746315)

Flywheel storage. Under existing service station forecourts, are massive fuel tanks. Replace them with flywheel energy storage systems (which can be trickle-charged from the grid and discharged very fast if need be), and we may yet be in business.

Flywheel storage are used to augment the National Grid in powering the Joint European Torus, and can deliver many tens of megawatts of power on demand.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joint_European_Torus [wikipedia.org]

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39745897)

but bbut charge time. I routinely drive 1500million miles in one sitting.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39745899)

Well said. Gasoline doesn't self-ignite easily. Lithium-O2 does if there is any cell damage that causes an internal short. And it goes boom just like the cars in movies (which seem to have nitroglicerin-coated stuffing or something the way they always catch fire and explode for no reason).

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745977)

Goes boom? It'll catch fire but I don't know of any battery that can go up in a movie-style explosion. And just like a gas tank, if you manage to damage your battery you've just been in one helluva accident and the track crew should be by with extinguishers shortly.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (4, Interesting)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745901)

How expensive is it?
How long does it take to charge?
How long can it hold its charge before it leaks?
How many recharge cycles can it do?

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746025)

Enough that it will be a better deal than gas in the future, for sure

Current cars are doing an 80% quick charge in half an hour, use your imagination

If it's anything like today's lithium batteries, many months

See first answer

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745947)

Great... now if they can build an infrastructure of recharging stations or at least be able to promise to build one, all over the country where you can juice up your car to 90% full or better inside of 5 minutes, we'll have a winner.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (3, Insightful)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745957)

tfs says that the energy density is like gasoline and 10x lithium ion. but it's talking gravimetric density, i.e. kwh per kg. The only thing that matters is volumetric density, i.e. kwh / liter. This is because cars are space constrained, not weight constrained. So nothing to get excited about for vehicle range, because we have not data on it. For all we know, it could be worse. likely it's about the same as li-ion, because most of the battery volume is taken up by packaging and cooling, not the active material itself.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

mlts (1038732) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746059)

Nail, hit hit. Weight is an important factor, but what is important is how much space the battery takes up with all its cooling and safety systems. If it still is competitive (or heck, within an order of magnitude) with gasoline, we have something revolutionary.

Otherwise, it will go on the shelf with supercaps and many other battery technologies that had promise, but couldn't deliver.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (5, Insightful)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746223)

Also, remember that electric motors are 3x more efficient that gas engines (80% thermal efficiency vs. 25%), so batteries don't need to get parity with gasoline in order to be comparable.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746065)

This is because cars are space constrained, not weight constrained.

Citation please.

I'm sorry, but this remark is just so absolutely hilarious...

Do you know anything about physics?

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2)

necro81 (917438) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746231)

Cars are both space and weight constrained. If the car weighs a lot more (and hybrids and electrics certainly do) it takes more power to accelerate it. It also takes more power to keep it moving on the highway due to increased rolling resistance. More power required implies more battery (or sacrificing power density for energy density), larger power electronics, heavier motor, etc. Cutting the weight of the battery pack by a factor of 2, let alone 10, would be tremendous.

But, to your point, I agree that if the resulting battery is 2x the volume, let alone 10x, it may yet be a deal killer. Creating a network of channels, tubes, and pores to get the oxygen in and out will be tough to accomplish on a tight space.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39745975)

Your move, range anxiety crowd.

IBM has stated they dont expect any kind of production until 2020 on this battery, how is it their move?

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

digitalsolo (1175321) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746029)

500 miles on one charge would solve the vast majority of issues. It's slightly beyond the maximum distance I travel at once (I visit family out of state regularly, about a 420 mile drive, which is generally about as far as a single driver is likely to go in a single "sitting" without a substantial break).

If they can A) get cost reasonable and B) get a decent amount of infrastructure for 3-4 hour charging of the pack, it's a pretty valid contender for viable replacement of the ICE for the average driver.

Of course, I'd miss my high powered sports car, but it runs on alcohol anyway, so I can always distill my own fuel for that out of biowaste if I really want to.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746121)

Of course, I'd miss my high powered sports car, but it runs on alcohol anyway, so I can always distill my own fuel for that out of biowaste if I really want to.

considering the performance of properly tuned electric car utilizes energy better than any ICE, im sure your sports car can be sold for nice vinyl decals on your electric sports car.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746221)

True for autocross/drift/drag and other sports with short runs, but for track use gasoline will have an advantage for quite a bit longer.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746039)

Your move, range anxiety crowd.

Do you have a "jerry can" equivalent? Because sure as Monday, somebody is going to run out of juice in the middle of nowhere.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746087)

With this battery, sure why not. The only thing preventing it now is energy density, you couldn't carry anything of meaningful capacity. At this energy density you could carry extra packs that wire up to terminals in the trunk.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746171)

Include an unfoldable solar panel in the car and a small pole to put a mini wind turbine on ;)
Actually with solar panels getting better that options is actually pretty viable. You could charge up enough in an hour to get to another town most likely.

Or you could just do what everyone else does and call AAA or hit the onstar button for assistance.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746043)

>>>Your move, range anxiety crowd.

Still can't take me from Maryland to California in 3 days, because of the time-to-recharge issue. Your EV would need to include a gasoline generator to recharge the battery as you're driving, and then it's a hybrid.

Now:

What about the danger of explosion? As it recharges it release oxygen. You wouldn't want to leave your Lithium-oxygen EV in your garage but outside so the O2 can safely escape rather than build up.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746117)

What about the danger of explosion? As it recharges it release oxygen. You wouldn't want to leave your Lithium-oxygen EV in your garage but outside so the O2 can safely escape rather than build up.

Garages might need an extractor fan but I guess it depends on how quickly the oxygen is released. If it's not too high it should be able to safely dissipate.

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746049)

Nice, so in 5+ years this should be viable, and well move from oil dependance to Lithium dependance. Yes, I see this completely makes sense!

Re:Gasoline-like energy density (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746131)

Lithium can be recycled, pulling gasoline out of the air isn't so easy.

Life isn't made of press releases (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746069)

This sounds great... just like the dozens of other game-changing energy breakthrough articles I've read over the years. Until it comes to market and works as advertised I'm not going to get too excited.

This cannot be allowed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39745889)

It'll get in the way of increasing fossil fuel prices, especially if the people get over nuclear anxiety.

Quick, manufacture an incident in the past, using our time machine!

Air isn't new (5, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745903)

The summary makes it sound like they've never used air in batteries before. Most small batteries, including hearing aid batteries, are zinc-air. This is why they come with a small sticker on one side - you remove the sticker and give the battery a minute or so to take in air. That said, I don't believe the zinc-air batteries "breathe" like how the article describes, and they're certainly not rechargeable so kudos to IBM.

No cathode (1)

noh8rz3 (2593935) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745919)

The reason it can be lighter is because there is no cathode in the battery. Most batteries have an internal anode, cathode, and electrolyte. In this case, the cathode is replaced by ambient oxygen, so it saves weight. attn pedants: dont' lash out if i have my anodes and cathodes confused.

Thermal problems with my anode (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746091)

This is from IBM, so it is intended for a laptop computer, right? The cathode may be ambient oxygen, but with the energy density involved, if I park this thing in the wrong place, I could burn by anode?

Re:No cathode (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746265)

In this case, the cathode is replaced by ambient oxygen, so it saves weight.

The cathode (or anode as the case may be) still needs to hook up to the motor. If ambient oxygen is the cathode, then you'd need some sort of oxygen resistant antenna or mesh - heavy enough to handle the current - in order to complete the circuit.

Wow! (1)

sirwired (27582) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745933)

Assuming this can be productized in a relatively reasonable timeframe, this is a HUGE advance. And, if IBM is reporting it, it is more likely to actually be true. (As opposed to some random no-name startup with results that cannot be duplicated and just happens to be up for a round of funding soon...)

How much mass does it gain with use? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39745943)

the oxygen used in a lithium-air battery comes from the atmosphere, so the battery itself can be much lighter.

When the battery is recharged, the process is reversed and oxygen is released

The article was a bit brief, but from this read it seems that as the battery is discharged, it gains mass, but I'm just not seeing how much mass it would gain.

Also, if that thing releases pure oxygen when you charge it, I'm not charging that thing in my garage.

Re:How much mass does it gain with use? (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746019)

Odds are it doesn't release enough oxygen to make a huge difference with most common flammables. Even if it does, it can be solved with a cheap and easy weekend project to add an exhaust vent to your garage... something you may want to invest in anyway. Likewise, the mass gained by discharging it is probably a small fraction of the overall battery weight and won't make any noticeable difference - go pick up an air compressor that's empty. Now fill it up to max rated and pick it up. There's a weight gain, but not a lot compared to the dead weight of the non-air components.

Re:How much mass does it gain with use? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746327)

If it is an issue, then the charger itself would be designed to do the venting. The hookup would be akin to a central vac hose: power in and a vacuum to draw the oxygen outside.

Critical question (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745949)

How long does it take to recharge? Current li-ion cars can get to 80% charge in half an hour.

Don't get too excited yet (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39745955)

There liars,
there are damned liars,
and then there are battery chemists.

Does anyone remember the hoopla about aluminum-air batteries? A variety of problems kept them from going main stream. I don't know what will plague lithium-air batteries but I'm darn sure it will be something. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aluminium%E2%80%93air_battery [wikipedia.org]

Re:Don't get too excited yet (1)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746077)

Based on your link and the summary, it looks like the theoretical energy density maximum of Li-air is about six times the theoretical energy density of Al-air. Most of the other issues mentioned in your link have already been solved and it looks like they're still being actively developed for use in portable electronics (IE: laptops).

Re:Don't get too excited yet (1)

Tx (96709) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746169)

The wikipedia article you linked to says that Al-air batteries are non-rechargeable, which puts them immediately into a much smaller niche of applications, especially since many of the applications for non-rechargeable batteries aren't all about energy density, but also about charge-retention etc. There's so much more demand for better rechargeables, with electric vehicles, intermittent power generation (solar, wind etc), that there's a lot more mileage (sorry) in researching anything that might deliver.

Re:Don't get too excited yet (2)

Stem_Cell_Brad (1847248) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746197)

If this was coming from somewhere else, I would be more swayed by your battery histrionics point. But, IBM does not frequently dish out bullshit results for publicity.

Won't see the mass market (-1, Flamebait)

denelson83 (841254) | more than 2 years ago | (#39745995)

Big Oil will just suppress it.

Re:Won't see the mass market (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746281)

the investors in Big Oil make money, not oil When other energy sources become available, they will invest in those. they know we're coming off of peak oil production and they want their money flow. they just want their big piece of the action.

Re:Won't see the mass market (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746283)

Big Oil will eventually run out of oil and have no choice but to turn to batteries for cars.

Cant Wait........ (2)

who_stole_my_kidneys (1956012) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746003)

I have been touting electric cars for years now as the next big thing....this makes me look like less of an eco-asshole :-P

Re:Cant Wait........ (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746343)

Chances there are that we all are.
We mind the "pollution" involved in using a car (any car type). But we'd mind the one involved into the whole process, from manufacturing a car to dispose it!
I fear that electric cars (whatever battery technology they use) just move the pollution stuff from "usage" to "manufacturing" and "disposing"!

kWh/kg (electric) != kWh/kg (thermal) (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746021)

The thermal energy in gasoline has to be converted to a more useful form of energy (i.e. turning the wheels), the efficiency of this is going to be ~20% for a automobile. The battery is supplying much more useful energy, the efficiency of converting electricity to useful energy is going to be something like 90% (or more). So a battery with the same energy density of gasoline actually has at least 4 times the useful energy of the same size (weight actually) gas tank.

Re:kWh/kg (electric) != kWh/kg (thermal) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746299)

As it turns out, gasoline engines aren't as bad as you think: A modern efficient engine will generally push 30%, with certain technologies allowing 35% or higher. You're also failing to include losses inherent to the drive chain, which can often only be about 80% efficient or so. So, factoring that in we see that the system efficiencies work out to be:

30% (gas) * 80% (gears/wheels) = 24%
90% (electric) * 80% (gears/wheels) = 72%

Which makes the electric system only about 3 times more efficient. (Of course, it becomes a _lot_ more complex than this in reality, as engines have variable efficiencies and electric motors can afford different drive chain designs, but a factor of about 3 isn't a bad rule of thumb.)

Comparable? (2, Interesting)

SlashAdotter (1465581) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746023)

According to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density#Common_energy_densities [wikipedia.org] The energy density for gasoline 47.2 MJ/kg and Lithium air battery 9 MJ/kg. If five times less is "comparable" I wouldn't mind the li-air car cost of $4000 which is comparable to a regular gas car.

Re:Comparable? (3, Insightful)

sanosuke001 (640243) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746083)

Wikipedia also states that gasoline is 13kWh/kg vs. the summary's stated 12kWh/kg for IBM's new battery. Maybe IBM's version is better than the version referenced in your link?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gasoline#Energy_content_.28high_and_low_heating_value.29 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Comparable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746115)

Something is wrong with someone's calcs:
    9MJ/kg != 12 kWh/kg
    47.2 MJ/kg = 13.1 kWh/kg

Re:Comparable? (5, Informative)

Anonymous CowWord (635850) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746211)

Putting aside a potential flaw in reporting, you are still ignoring efficiency. Gasoline engines are only 15-20% efficient. Even at 20%, that is 47.2*0.2 = 9.44 Electric engines are around 80% efficient. 9*0.8 = 7.2 Suddenly it is a lot more comparable...

Re:Comparable? (4, Informative)

ZeroSumHappiness (1710320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746257)

1. It's the same order of magnitude. Yes, that's comparable.
2. The AC above you actually gives you the exact reason it's better than that. A gasoline internal combustion engine will be 20%-35% efficient at translating that 47.2 MJ to rotary motion of the wheels. A lithium air powered electric motor, however, is 80%-90% efficient. So you're looking at 9.4-16.5 MJ at the transmission versus 7.2-8.1 MJ at the wheels. Assuming a 95% efficiency drivetrain from flywheel to wheels that gas power goes down to 8.9-15.7 MJ. Yeah, that's pretty comparable. Of course, gasoline engines are over 100 years old and lithium-air battery systems less than a decade old, so I think there's some room for improvement there.

Re:Comparable? (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746291)

read this one [slashdot.org]

Re:Comparable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746325)

You have to take into account the ICE efficiency for gasoline. Which is not factor of 5, but not that far either. Besides that an electric car has a lot of tricks, like regenerative breaking or filling up when going downhill. None of my cars has an 800km range and I don't complain (I have to drive 1100 km to bring my kids to their grandparents). The problems are rather 1) how far could it be recharged after a break every 4 hours or so (2 drivers swapping every 2 hours, every other break being a bit longer) and 2) how much range does it really get in mountainous areas (I have to cross a mountain range and there are very long upwards slopes, it will certainly refill the battery in the downwards ones)

Releases oxygen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746033)

While oxygen isn't technically flammable, many materials that are normally flame retardant explode into flame [wikipedia.org] when exposed to high concentrations of oxygen.

Re:Releases oxygen? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746287)

so who said there would be high concentrations of oxygen? do things burst into flames near forests and algae ponds?

err.... moisture not a problem? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746133)

You know that funny thing that happens to all those special molecules on the far left of the periodic table. You know... the catch fire and scream part?

Re:err.... moisture not a problem? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746301)

because the gasoline in your car and the natural gas lines in your home don't have the catch fire and scream problem?

Source of oxygen for working out in your garage! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39746181)

Now that leaving your car running in the garage will have the opposite effect (oxygen instead of carbon dioxide) I wonder if you could leave your car running in your garage and then exercise out there and work out harder because of the enriched oxygen atmosphere...

Re:Source of oxygen for working out in your garage (2)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746335)

You don't want too much oxygen, especially since it's flammable.

Air pollution and density? (1)

aglider (2435074) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746277)

How would that battery efficiency be affected by air pollution and low- high- density cases?

Premature Article AGAIN!! (5, Informative)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 2 years ago | (#39746319)

According to the video we won't see these batteries in cars until "2020 or 2030". That seems like a long way off considering the summary says "demonstrated a light-weight, ultra-high-density, lithium-air battery" As far as I can glean from the vague articles is that all IBM has done is demonstrate the fundamental chemistry on a supercomputer. As far as I can tell they have not actually built a working battery of significant size and definitely not one of a size that would power a vehicle. There have been may technologies that work well in pristine laboratory environments but fail when they attempt to scale and/or have to deal with the dirty environment. Sure the battery may even work on a small scale when exposed to pure oxygen but how does it deal with the other elements in the atmosphere? Take a look at this [wikipedia.org] . I do not see where IBM shows how that deal with any of these issues.

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