Researchers from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) and Argonne National Labs have created a practical demonstration of a lithium-air battery with a room temperature energy density of 685 Wh/kg.
Furthermore, they believe that their new battery will be less expensive to manufacture and safer than a traditional lithium-ion battery since it is solid-state, which means it does not contain any liquids that may leak or catch fire.
A lithium-air battery formed from lithium oxide (Li2O) can theoretically give an energy density equivalent to gasoline. According to an IIT news release, the battery architecture has the ability to store one kilowatt-hour of power per kilogram – four times more than existing lithium-ion battery technology. The battery is rechargeable for 1000 cycles with a low polarization gap and can operate at high rates.
The researchers used a combination of polymer and ceramic, the two most popular solid electrolytes, although both have disadvantages. The scientists took use of the ceramic’s strong ionic conductivity as well as the polymer’s high stability and interfacial connection by mixing them.
As a result, the crucial reversible process that permits the lithium-air battery to work — lithium dioxide creation and decomposition — may occur at high rates at ambient temperature for the first time in a lithium-air battery.
One of the most significant benefits of the catalyst proposed by the researchers for the cathode is that it is built of plentiful and affordable molybdenum phosphide. So they not only made a great solid state Li+ conductor, they also made an inexpensive catalyst that is good at promoting forward and backward reactions with oxygen so the system is rechargeable.
However, we should be wary of any announcement about battery breakthroughs in the laboratory until additional testing is done and more data is published. Typically, the journey from laboratory to manufacturing takes five years or more. Having said that, the very concept of a battery with an energy density comparable to gasoline is reason for joy.
Reference- journal Science, Illinois Institute of Technology Press Release, Clean Technica, Popular Science