IBM: Lithium air battery prototype in 2013, production in 2020

Researchers are working on a lithium air battery that will make electric vehicles as practical as gas-powered cars.


Researchers are working on a lithium air battery that will make electric vehicles as practical as internal combustion cars are today.

For all the leaps and advances electric vehicles have made in the last couple of years, they still have a way to go before they become practical enough or cheap enough to be the typical family car. But IBM is working on a battery that will put an end to range anxiety, able to power a vehicle for 500 miles.

IBM researchers at four of the technology giant's laboratories are testing a lithium air battery. Dubbed the Battery500 Project, the lithium air batteries swap heavy-metal oxides for carbon, which reacts with oxygen to create an electrical charge. It's considered the holy grail of electric vehicle technology because it offers a theoretical energy density more than 1,000 times greater than the typical lithium ion battery you'll find in a Nissan Leaf. But it's also highly unstable.

To make lithium air batteries more stable, researchers tapped the Blue Gene supercomputer in Zurich to analyze electro-chemical reactions to find alternative electrolytes that won't degrade the battery while recharging, and have identified material that is promising, according to an article in New Scientist.

With several concepts under their belt, IBM expects to reveal a working prototype of the lithium air battery in 2013. If all goes according to plan, IBM expects full commercial production of their technology in 2020.

(Source: New Scientist)

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