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IBM creates "breathing" high-density lithium-air battery

MrSeb (471333) writes | more than 2 years ago


MrSeb writes "As part of its Battery 500 project — an initiative started by IBM 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 IBM's lithium-air battery, oxygen is reacted with lithium to create lithium peroxide and electrical energy (pictured above). 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 an lithium-air battery obviously 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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Lead acid batteries (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39744149)

This design uses lithium peroxide with the oxygen supplied by air; the old lead acid battery uses lead peroxide with the oxygen coming, in effect, from water. Before any pedantic chemist tells me that the technologies are quite different, let me say I'm allowed to note that this approach has cleverly got the problem of hydrogen storage out of the equation. (In the lead acid battery the hydrogen is stored as sulphuric acid, in the NiMH cell the hydrogen is held in a porous mischmetall structure which adds still further to the cost. In the lead acid cell, charging results in oxygen and hydrogen: the oxygen forms lead peroxide, the hydrogen removes sulphate from the lead sulphate at the other pole and so adds more sulphuric acid to the electrolyte. If the cell is charged too fast the hydrogen doesn't have time to react so it escapes as gas. I have seen the result of someone investigating a loud bubbling from the batteries on a boat using a lighted match. Not pretty.)

Two things occur to me: one, the problem is presumably where the lithium gets ionised or returns to the metallic state (at the bottom), and two, perhaps something could be done with the released oxygen at the charging point - it is potentially useful stuff.

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