Technology.am (May 19, 2009) — Researchers have developed a new type of air-fuelled battery that could make energy storage up to ten times longer. It could pave the way for a new generation of electric cars, mobile phones and laptops.
Researchers at the University of St Andrews said the new design has the potential to improve the performance of portable electronic products and give a major boost to the renewable energy industry. The batteries will enable a constant electrical output from sources such as wind or solar, which stop generating when the weather changes or night falls.
The discovery at the university that the carbon component’s interaction with air can be repeated, creating a cycle of charge and discharge. Subsequent work has more than tripled the capacity to store charge in the STAIR (St Andrews Air) cell.
The Battery’s improved capacity is possible because of the addition of a component that uses oxygen drawn from the air during discharge, replacing one chemical constituent used in rechargeable batteries today.
Not having to carry the chemicals around in the battery offers more energy for the same size battery. Reducing the size and weight of batteries with the necessary charge capacity has been a long-running battle for developers of electric cars.
The STAIR cell should be cheaper than today’s rechargeables too. The new component is made of porous carbon, which is far less expensive than the lithium cobalt oxide it replaces.