EDITOR'S NOTE: Several experts in the field recently posted commentary

Researchers at the Argonne National Laboratory created a new lithium-oxygen battery that promises an energy density up to 5 times higher than that of conventional lithium batteries. The new battery design is a product of a team researchers from both the US and Korea. Details of this new battery have been published in the journal Nature.

One of the best advantages if a battery that is based on lithium superoxide, Argonne battery scientists Larry Curtiss and Khalil Amine explained, is that, theoretically, this allows for the creation of a lithium-air battery that consists of a closed system.

Notably, open systems require the consistent intake of extra oxygen from the environment, while closed systems do not — making them safer and more efficient.

How does it work

The release from Argonne National Laboratory clarifies exactly why this breakthrough is so significant, noting that 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.

In this respect, the work is significant. As the paper notes, "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,” added Larry Curtiss.

This new battery design is definitely something to watch out for.

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