It looks like the future of energy storage has arrived: an air-breathing battery that can store power for months at a fifth of the cost of current battery technologies. That’s the promise of a new research paper that details the breakthrough’s unique oxygen-dependent mechanism.
The technology, which was detailed by the MIT-based research team, could revolutionize the way we use renewable energy sources like solar and wind. By storing energy when sources are generating electricity, large batteries can now be deployed to prevent blackouts. Tesla’s project in South Australia, for example, uses 129 megawatt-hours of storage to power 30,000 homes from renewables.
However, the new air-breathing battery offers an attractive alternative: it costs only around $20 to $30 per kilowatt-hour, and its energy density is more than 500 times higher than pumped hydroelectric storage. That means it’s not only cheaper, but also much more compact and easier to use in smaller-scale projects.
It’s an exciting development that could make renewable energy storage much more affordable and accessible. With the ability to store power for months at a time, this air-breathing battery could be a game-changer for green energy.
The lithium–air battery (or li–air battery) is a revolutionary new metal–air electrochemical cell or battery chemistry that has the potential to revolutionize the way we use and store energy. By combining lithium with ambient oxygen, these cells can theoretically achieve the highest possible specific energy of any current electrochemical cell. That means that with the right technology, it could offer a specific energy of up to 11.14 kWh/kg of lithium – meaning that it could power a 2,000 kg electric vehicle for a whopping 500 km on a single charge, with just 60 kg of lithium!
In practice, li–air batteries have already been demonstrated with a specific energy of ~6.12 mj/kg = 1.7 kwh/kg of lithium at the cell level. That’s already five times greater than that of a commercial lithium-ion battery, and it’s enough to offer a range of 310 miles on a single charge. While there is still work to be done in terms of improving power and life cycle, there’s no denying that the potential for li–air batteries is huge.
So what does this mean for the future of energy storage and transportation? It means that with the right technology and research, we could soon be powering cars with a fraction of the energy needed by traditional fossil fuels. We could soon be able to fill up our cars with lithium and oxygen, instead of gasoline – and that would have a huge impact on our environment.
It’s an exciting time for the future of energy storage and transportation, and the li–air battery is at the forefront of that revolution.