New York: Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a new prototype of a next generation lithium battery that may store five times the energy of today’s batteries. The new battery is powered by a surprising chemical reaction that may solve the new battery’s biggest drawback.
Today’s lithium-air batteries hold great promise because they store energy in the form of chemical bonds of oxide compounds. Versions tested to date have stored and released energy from lithium peroxide – an insoluble substance that clogs the battery’s electrode.
Battery scientists at the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory developed a prototype that they claimed had the surprising ability to produce only lithium’s superoxide, not peroxide, as the battery discharges. Unlike troublesome lithium peroxide, lithium superoxide easily breaks down again into lithium and oxygen, thus offering the possibility of a battery with high efficiency and good cycle life.
Amin Salehi-Khojin, assistant professor of mechanical and industrial engineering, and post- doctoral research associate Mohammad Asadi devised a state-of-the-art mass spectroscopy apparatus to measure the electrochemical reaction products in situ during charging or discharge of the battery. The system operates in ultra-high vacuum and is “very sensitive to the tiniest change in oxygen concentration,” said Asadi in a paper appeared in the journal Nature.