“Battery technology has improved, but is still far inferior to gasoline in terms of how much energy they hold. The energy density—which is the amount of energy a lithium-ion battery stores per unit weight—is really not enough to produce a family-sized sedan with a 300- to 500-mile range.” -Spike Narayan, a key IBM researcher-
IBM’s 2-year-old Big Green Innovations program is currently underway, as many of their top scientists and researchers join in collaboration with several U.S. universities and the Department of Energy’s national labs in hopes of finding a battery breakthrough. The directive set forth for the Battery 500 Project aims to boost the range of rechargeable batteries for all-electric cars from less than 100 miles today to as far as 500 miles.
The worlwide auto industry is quickly moving toward the implementation of hybrid and all-electric vehicles. However, for now anyways, most battery-powered vehicles top out at a range of 100 miles per charge. This, according to IBM, is simply not good enough.
The answer, according to IBM, happens to be floating all around us. IBM believes it will be lithium-air batteries that will take them to the 500 mile mark.
Lithium-air batteries are unique in that instead of being a sealed system, they couple to atmospheric oxygen—essentially harnessing the oxygen in the air as the cathode of the battery. Since oxygen enters the battery on-demand, it offers an essentially unlimited amount of reactant, metered only by the surface area of its electrodes. IBM believes its nanoscale semiconductor fabrication techniques can increase the surface area of the lithium-air battery’s electrodes by at least 100 times, enabling them to meet the goals of the project. -Smarter Technology
IBM is estimating that it will take two years to determine whether this technology is feasible. But even if that means it’ll be five years before they hit the market, this will still be a huge breathrough for power storage technology.
Category: Battery News