Lithium-air battery advance could be jaw-dropping improvement over li-ion

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    Lithium-air batteries have the potential to be the next big leap in battery tech because they get rid of a lot of the weight and complexity involved with standard batteries. That’s because, instead of having all the battery components stored inside the battery itself, lithium-air batteries use oxygen in the atmosphere to bring some electrons to the party. There has been some progress in terms of getting air into the battery and having the oxygen react once it gets there, but the technology still faces a significant challenge: reactive oxygen tends to also react with the battery’s components.

    The result of these reactions is that existing lithium-air batteries can typically only handle a handful of charge/discharge cycles before they start to decay. But researchers have now found an electrolyte material that doesn’t react with oxygen, allowing stable performance over multiple charging cycles. And the theoretical capacity of the battery was staggering, possibly more than ten times that of the lithium-ion tech on the market.

    The problem has been, as the researchers put it, that lithium-air batteries have an end-point of lithium peroxide (Li2O2), which forms through an intermediate oxygen radical. That radical is very reactive and will generally decompose the electrolyte that shuttles charged ions around between the battery’s two electrodes. If it’s not possible to avoid the reactive oxygen, the authors reasoned, the best thing to do is to change the electrolyte to something that doesn’t react with oxygen.

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    Lithium-air battery advance could be jaw-dropping improvement over li-ion

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