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GM Developing Lithium-Air Battery to Improve Electric Vehicle Capability

23 June 2010 12,118 views 7 Comments

Lithium-Air Batteries are Lighter, More Efficient than Traditional Lithium-Ion Batteries-


According to The New York Times, General Motors has began conducting research into lithium-air batteries, which may revolutionize electric vehicle technology. GM confirms that the battery technology needs much more R&D before it may be used to commercial EVs, however the increase in capacity of these batteries could offer yield output per charge matching or exceeding that of a traditional petroleum-fueled car. Lithium has been used for years in high-density batteries from laptops to electric cars, but lithium-air batteries have rarely made headlines due to limited development. Lithium has an extremely high energy density; and if exposed to water, the chemical reaction issues a large amount of heat, lithium hydroxide and hydrogen. All batteries contain an anode and a cathode. Electrical current flows between them when the chemicals inside the battery react with one another. Traditionally, anode and cathode have been made from different solid elements. In lithium-air batteries, the solid cathode is replaced with oxygen. Since the air we breathe contains abundant oxygen levels, a lithium-air battery does not need to store a supply of oxygen inside itself, which makes the battery much lighter and smaller. In fact, lithium-air batteries could offer an increase in capacity of more than 10 times that now accomplished by current lithium-ion cells. While lithium-air batteries are 10 years away from commercial-scale use at best, and are still in laboratory stages of testing, they symbolize a significant advance in potential range for all electric vehicles. GM’s 2011 Chevrolet Volt will be released this fall and uses more common lithium-ion cells in its battery pack. The extended range hybrid-electric vehicle will be capable of traveling 40 miles on a full charge of electricity before a gasoline range-extender engine kicks in for another 300 miles.

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7 Comments »

  • james garcia said:

    10 years is to long to wait. the world needs this tech. for ev,s yesterday.

  • ed said:

    My hearing aid batteries are lithium air, and very small. They double the hearing use that the previous batteries provided. I don’t see why it would take another 10 years to develop something we already have.

  • ian said:

    Ed those are zinc air batteries, and this technology will not be ready in 10 years, perhaps not even 20, it could take up to 40 years to fully develope this new tech. lets see when it starts showing up on the market.

  • Green Energy News (author) said:

    Ian makes a good point. Plus, your hearing aid batteries are not rechargeable like an electric car battery would need to be.

  • Michael Ruby said:

    Imagine if our Govt. finally made a serious investment in LiO2 development? How long would the 10+yrs. be then?

  • DLaw said:

    Everybody talks about government investment but 1/2 the U.S. population would probably be against it since it would stink of socialism. We need government initiatives no matter what it stinks of.

  • Robert said:

    Hi, I believe we need a manhatten type of project for this lithium air battery. We need it NOW!!

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