Scientists from the University of Cambridge have published a study in the journal Science detailing the fact that they have been able to produce a lithium-oxygen or lithium-air battery which is 10 times stronger than the lithium-ion battery used today. But then, it will take about a decade for this ultimate battery to become available for use everywhere since research is still ongoing.
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This next-generation is 90% more efficient and can be recharged for over 2,000 times for use in home appliances or even in electric cars. The power of this new battery is its high energy density, and could be the solution to weaker batteries that must be charged every now and then.
Within the lab setting, the scientists used a demonstrator that uses graphene – made up of one-atom-thick sheets of carbon atoms, and certain additives that induce the chemicals within the battery to work differently, getting more efficient and stable.
"What we've achieved is a significant advance for this technology and suggests whole new areas for research – we haven't solved all the problems inherent to this chemistry, but our results do show routes forward towards a practical device," said Professor Clare Grey of Cambridge's Department of Chemistry, the paper's senior author.
Considering the fact that most devices and technologies people use nowadays are much smaller, faster, cheaper, and more efficient, the researchers are looking into ways to integrate these features into the new battery that is under development. A much stronger battery would be ideal for electric cars since they would pack the same density that gasoline has, and it would also be ideal for use in grid-scale storage of solar power.
"In their simplest form, batteries are made of three components: a positive electrode, a negative electrode and an electrolyte,'' said Dr. Tao Liu, also from the Department of Chemistry, and the paper's first author.
Liu added that much still needs to be done before the ideal battery would be out, and while their research proves that there are several ways to deal with the inefficiency of batteries, the research team still needs to look at things differently to see what works and what does not.
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"While there are still plenty of fundamental studies that remain to be done, to iron out some of the mechanistic details, the current results are extremely exciting – we are still very much at the development stage, but we've shown that there are solutions to some of the tough problems associated with this technology," said Grey.