Cambridge chemists make breakthrough with “ultimate” battery

Ashley Cowburn — The Independent Oct 31, 2015

One charge would be enough to power vehicle from London to Edinburgh

One charge would be enough to power vehicle from London to Edinburgh. Click to enlarge

Scientists have made a breakthrough at Cambridge University by solving issues related to a battery that, in theory, could enable a car to drive from London to Edinburgh on a single charge.

A research paper published in the journal Science details how the team at Cambridge University overcome obstacles in the development of lithium-air batteries. The batteries, touted as the “ultimate battery” theoretically have the ability to store ten times more energy than lithium-ion batterie.

But until now, unwanted chemical reactions and problems with efficiency associated with lithium-air batteries have plagued efforts by scientists to develop them.

The researchers at Cambridge are claiming to have solved a number of the issues and if the team’s laboratory experiment can be turned into a commercial product it will enable a car, on a single charge, to drive from London to Edinburgh

Professor Clare Grey, one of the paper’s senior authors, said: “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.”

But the report’s authors do warn that a practical lithium-air battery still remains at least a decade away – there are several practical challenges that need the batteries become a viable alternative to gasoline.

Prof Grey added: “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.”

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