Earlier this year (in May), we presented a brand new approach to batteries as we know them, by the University of St. Andrews, in Scotland. Their project involved a battery that had the ambient air as its reacting cathode, instead being a sealed system. At the time, the engineers involved in the project said their battery would store several times the current of a lithium ion battery and last up to 8 times longer.
IBM, through its “Big Green” – “Battery 500” project, aimed to produce a battery for an electric car that would be able to carry a family-sized sedan up to 500 miles, spotted the lithium-air (STAIR) invention as its goal, and predicted that they could improve the STAIR battery further with the nanoscale semiconductor manufacturing techniques they possess. The goal is to reach 10 times the storage density of lithium ion batteries. They state, in a meeting at IBM’s Almaden Laboratory in San Jose, CA, that their nanoscale techniques can increase the lithium air’s electrodes surface by at least 100 times.
Already having huge datacenters and computing power, IBM hopes they would use their supercomputers to simulate the functioning of lithium air batteries, and improve them faster than anyone can imagine with the lowest price possible. They dedicated 40 engineers to this project and hope that in two years they’ll come up with an estimation of whether they chose lithium air technology is the best suited one for their Battery 500 Project.
Lithium Air Battery technology has been chosen through an internal “grand challenge”, run at the end of 2008 by IBM’s Almaden Lab. Let’s hope they’ll make it, otherwise fossil fuel will remain the leader in power density, like it has been since its discovery.