An electric car that actually goes far?
July 20, 2012
Researchers have made the first stable lithium-air batteries, Science NOW reports. They may one day give electric cars a driving range similar to today’s gas guzzlers.
Lithium-air batteries have potential to store 10 times more energy than the best lithium-ion batteries on the market today, but have been unstable, falling apart after a few charges.
So researchers at the University of St Andrews in the United Kingdom replaced the conventional carbon-based cathode material with one made from inert gold nanoparticles that they hoped would be more stable. They also replaced the electrolyte — previously made from compounds called polycarbonates or polyethers — with one made from a common conductive solvent abbreviated DMSO that previous studies had shown may be less prone to react at the cathode.
But the new lithium-air batteries aren’t yet ready for commercialization. Gold is too heavy and too expensive to serve as the only cathode material in a practical cell. And over time, DMSO can react with lithium metal at the anode causing the electrolyte to break down.