New battery could power electric car from London to Edinburgh on single charge

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways October 30, 2015 12:17

New battery could power electric car from London to Edinburgh on single charge

Scientists have developed a working laboratory demonstrator of a lithium-oxygen battery. Photo: Tao Liu, Clare Grey and Gabriella Bocchetti

Electric cars could drive from London to Edinburgh on a single charge using a new battery technology being developed at Cambridge University, scientists have said.

The lithium-air technology could be used to develop batteries that are a fifth of the cost and weight of current electric car batteries – enabling them to match the range of petrol and diesel cars.

Although real-world usage remains “at least a decade away”, scientists say they have overcome a number of obstacles to develop a working laboratory prototype of the battery.

Development of the lithium-air technology, which has a very high energy density, could also transform the energy system by allowing easy storage of power from renewable electricity sources such as wind and solar farms.

However, previous versions of the technology have been inefficient and unstable, tending to “die” after multiple charge and discharge cycles, or even develop faults that see them short-circuit and explode.

The new Cambridge University design, which uses a carbon electrode made from graphene, overcomes these problems and has so far been recharged successfully more than 2,000 times.

Professor Clare Grey, at Cambridge University’s Department of Chemistry, said: “While there are still plenty of fundamental studies that remain to be done, to iron out some of the mechanistic details, the current results are extremely exciting.

“We are still very much at the development stage, but we’ve shown that there are solutions to some of the tough problems associated with this technology.”

Ministers hope electric cars will one day become the norm, but the relatively low driving range of current models has held back the technology.

Current lithium-ion batteries, used in laptops and smartphones, are light but have to be recharged often because of their low energy densities. Their capacity also deteriorates with age.

Story: The Telegraph.co.uk

Thinking Highways
By Thinking Highways October 30, 2015 12:17