Back on July 8th I posted an article talking about the benefits of a new battery technology I had read about on weblog called Technology Review (originally published on June 26th from MIT). It think it may have originally been linked to either Slashdot or The Register. The blog entry was essentially like a press release from a company in California named PolyPlus. They had just announced the project to create single use high energy density Lithium-Air batteries for the military (most likely for radio communications in the field). The key technology was a new way to wrap the lithium cathode in a waterproof seal while still exposing it to the surrounding air encapsulated in the battery. It seems now some other big monied interests have caught onto this new battery chemistry and are going to produce it as well, but maybe not as a single use battery but instead as a rechargeable battery.
IBM is in the news touting the promise of the lithium-air technology as a potential technological nirvana for autmobile drive trains. Estimates are a 10X increase in energy density per kilogram of battery electrolyte material. If this can be achieved, watch out electric vehicles here we come.
Lithium-ion batteries have the potential to deliver about 585 watt-hours of electricity per kilogram, while lithium-sulfur has a theoretical potential of about 2,600 watt-hours, and lithium-air batteries might reach targets well above 5,000 watt-hours.
If they can be perfected, lithium-air batteries would be ideal for transportation applications, given their potential for high energy capacity and low weight. And, unlike zinc-air batteries, it should be possible to make them rechargeable.