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I was looking for a diversion: Batteries seem to be the new "Space Race."

I love reading science and technology news. It's usually quite positive,especially when compared to the rest of the news usually presented. Just as a diversion for people who are patiently biding their time until they get "the call," (I was going to say until your number is up, but that would just be wrong!)I stumbled on an article about air-ion batteries, and it is pretty exciting to consider the possibilities. Probably most of the techies out there know all about this, but for those of us regular folks, enjoy.
http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=lithium-air-oxygen-battery

Fascinating!

Three things in the way of lithium-air:

Lithium is alkali metal which means lithium plus water equals BOOM. This means you need to remove all moisture from the air before letting it in contact with the lithium-part of the battery, otherwise you don't have a battery very long. Because lithium-air is supposed to get oxygen directly from the air, this is kind of challenging dilemma (how to let oxygen thru in big enough quantities and prevent water entering at the same time)

Lithium-air has poorish volumetric energy density, which means they are large, just not heavy. Not much better than current lithium-ion batteries currently.

Lithium-air has poor power density. This means no "superchargers" unless battery is huge, and requirement for something like Model S 300+kW requires very large battery. This kind of removes the advantage it has on energy density.

Solve those and you have a winner in battery war. Unfortunately I don't think this will happen (at all). With silicon anodes "ordinary" lithium-ion batteries will get small enough that you just don't need that much higher specific energy, I think the near future limitation is not energy, it is power (and price).

Model S has relatively big battery and it can't be much smaller if you want to have same power: so doubling the energy density would not make battery smaller unless you also double the power density. Fortunately advances in nanotechs have produced absolutely insane power densities in labs (for normal lithium ion), so that limitation might go away at some point of the future.

They also suggested the need for a membrane able to pass lithium, but not oxygen. The atoms are different sizes, but it's still quite a trick.


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