A new discovery could lead to mobile phones which only need recharging once a week. Mirror reports.
A leading scientist has found new catalyst materials for lithium-air batteries which could make them last five times longer, jump-starting efforts to expand battery capacity.
The development could expand the range of electric cars to 400 miles.
Professor Kyeongjae Cho, of the University of Texas at Dallas, said: “There’s huge promise in lithium-air batteries.
“However, despite the aggressive research being done by groups all over the world, those promises are not being delivered in real life, so this is very exciting progress.
“Hopefully, this discovery will revitalise research in this area and create momentum for further development.”
Lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) batteries “breathe” oxygen from the air to power the chemical reactions that release electricity, rather than storing an oxidiser internally like lithium-ion batteries do.
Because of this, lithium-air batteries boast an energy density comparable to gasoline – with theoretical energy densities as much as 10 times that of current lithium-ion batteries, giving them tremendous potential for storage of renewable energy, particularly in applications such as mobile devices and electric cars.
Prof Cho said that, for example, at one-fifth the cost and weight of those presently on the market, a lithium-air battery would allow an electric car to drive 400 miles on a single charge and a mobile phone to last a week without recharging.
Until now, attempts have resulted in low efficiency and poor rate performance, instability and unwanted chemical reactions.
Prof Cho and Zheng have introduced new research that focuses on the electrolyte catalysts inside the battery, which, when combined with oxygen, create chemical reactions that create battery capacity.
They said soluble-type catalysts possess “significant” advantages over conventional solid catalysts, generally exhibiting much higher efficiency.
In particular, they found that only certain organic materials can be utilized as a soluble catalyst.
Based on that background, Prof Cho and Zheng have collaborated with researchers at Seoul National University in South Korea to create a new catalyst for the lithium-air battery called dimethylphenazine, which possesses higher stability and increased voltage efficiency.