New lithium-oxygen batteries will make long-distance electric cars viable
Scientists from Cambridge University have created a pioneering lithium-oxygen (Li-O2) battery that’s said to store as much energy per kilogram as a petrol engine.
Weighing the equivalent of a tank of fuel, this means the new high-density battery cells will give a range of around 800km between charges – 300km more than a Tesla Model S’s theoretical 500km range.
Sadly it’s not all good news. The state-of-the-art technology is only currently at the laboratory stage and could take as long as 10 years before it replaces current lithium-ion battery cells.
The reason for the delay? Scientists are struggling to make the cells work with air, rather than the pure oxygen used in laboratory. This means cars would be required to carry heavy (and dangerous) tanks of compressed liquid oxygen.
The other, potentially more pressing, issue that needs to be addressed is the new lithium-oxygen cell’s nasty habit of short-circuiting shortly before spectacularly exploding.
Despite these setbacks scientists are heralding the work done by researchers at Cambridge as the breakthrough car-makers are looking for – a cost-effective long-range pure-electric vehicle to be viable in the near future.