With a vision to develop more efficient power storage solution, researchers introduced a new type of lithium-oxygen battery that could hold more energy and last longer than its predecessors. The batteries are developed using more sustainable materials than the typical lithium-ion cells to be more energy-dense. They are considered as one of the most promising battery techniques developed recently. However, lithium-oxygen batteries are not being widely adopted across the globe, as they are short of life. But researchers tweaked the building materials and developed a lithium-oxygen battery that has the ability to release almost 100 percent of the total stored charge. It’s also claimed to be rechargeable for about 150 times.
The advanced lithium-oxygen battery is made with the combination of anode and cathode electrodes separated by an electrolyte. The working process of the new cell is simple. When the battery is used to recharge a device, the molecules of oxygen on the cathode merge with lithium ions from the electrolyte forming a solid compound called lithium peroxide. This process creates a potential difference across the two points. During the recharge process, these combined molecules break apart the lithium peroxide, returning oxygen and lithium to their starting positions. But, the process involved like forging lithium peroxide produces a large number of chemical by-products that waste a lot of energy from the batteries. This results in reduced power delivery. The by-products formed makes the lithium-oxygen battery to deliver only about 80 percent of its stored electric charge.
In addition to the loss of energy, these chemicals damage the battery’s electrolyte and cathode, resulting in a battery failure often after only a few dozens of recharges. To build a better lithium-oxygen battery, chemists replaced the typical organic electrolyte for an inorganic molten salt and the standard carbon-based cathode for a metal-based one. The newly developed design has a self-limiting capability which can inherently protect it from overcharging. In the case of an overcharging scenario, the reaction shifts to a different form that prevents further activity.
In one of the cycling tests, a demo lab version of the newly developed battery was put through 120 charging-discharging cycles and showed less than a 2 percent loss of capacity. This indicates that the batteries could have a long useful lifetime. Moreover, as such batteries could be installed and operated just like conventional solid lithium-ion batteries, without any of the auxiliary components needed for a lithium-air battery. This allows the seamless installation of these batteries for cars, electronics, or even grid-scale power storage.