A new lithium-oxygen battery design based around the use of lithium superoxide (LiO2) — promising an energy density up to 5 times higher than that of conventional lithium-ion batteries — was recently demonstrated by researchers at Argonne National Laboratory.
The new battery design — created in cooperation with researchers elsewhere in the US and in Korea — was described in a paper published recently in the journal Nature.
Green Car Congress provides more:
The major advantage of a battery based on lithium superoxide, Argonne battery scientists Larry Curtiss and Khalil Amine explained, is that it allows, at least in theory, for the creation of a lithium-air battery that consists of a closed system. Open systems require the consistent intake of extra oxygen from the environment, while closed systems do not — making them safer and more efficient.
Here’s an excerpt from the paper:
These studies also suggest that it might be possible to form LiO2 alone for use in a battery. However, solid LiO2 has been difficult to synthesize in pure form because it is thermodynamically unstable with respect to disproportionation, giving Li2O2.
Here we show that crystalline LiO2 can be stabilized in a Li–O2 battery by using a suitable graphene-based cathode. Various characterization techniques reveal no evidence for the presence of Li2O2. A novel templating growth mechanism involving the use of iridium nanoparticles on the cathode surface may be responsible for the growth of crystalline LiO2. Our results demonstrate that the LiO2 formed in the Li–O2 battery is stable enough for the battery to be repeatedly charged and discharged with a very low charge potential (about 3.2 volts).
“The stabilization of the superoxide phase could lead to developing a new closed battery system based on lithium superoxide, which has the potential of offering truly five times the energy density of lithium ion,” stated Khalil Amine.
“This discovery really opens a pathway for the potential development of a new kind of battery. Although a lot more research is needed, the cycle life of the battery is what we were looking for,” stated Larry Curtiss.
As always with battery research… while this certainly sounds exciting, a wait-and-see approach is probably the best choice here.