Lithium-Air Battery

Missouri University of Science & Technology (Missouri S&T)
High Performance Cathodes for Lithium-Air Batteries
ARPA-E Award: 
Rolla, MO
Project Term: 
08/01/2010 to 01/16/2013
Project Status: 
Critical Need: 
Most of today's electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries--the same kind of batteries used in cell phones and laptop computers. Currently, most Li-Ion batteries used in EVs provide a driving range limited to 100 miles on a single charge and account for more than half of the total cost of the vehicle. To compete in the market with gasoline-based vehicles, EVs must cost less and drive farther. An EV that is cost-competitive with gasoline would require a battery with twice the energy storage of today's state-of-the-art Li-Ion battery at 30% of the cost.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Researchers at Missouri S&T are developing an affordable lithium-air (Li-Air) battery that could enable an EV to travel up to 350 miles on a single charge. Today's EVs run on Li-Ion batteries, which are expensive and suffer from low energy density compared with gasoline. This new Li-Air battery could perform as well as gasoline and store 3 times more energy than current Li-Ion batteries. A Li-Air battery uses an air cathode to breathe oxygen into the battery from the surrounding air, like a human lung. The oxygen and lithium react in the battery to produce electricity. Current Li-Air batteries are limited by the rate at which they can draw oxygen from the air. The team is designing a battery using hierarchical electrode structures to enhance air breathing and effective catalysts to accelerate electricity production.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, Missouri S&T's new Li-Air battery design would make EVs a cost-competitive and high-performance alternative to gasoline-powered vehicles.
Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil--the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.
Greater use of EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
This battery would enable an EV to travel from New York City to Richmond, VA (335 miles) on a single charge, for less than $10 on average.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Dane Boysen
Project Contact: 
Dr. Yangchuan (Chad) Xing
Brookhaven National Laboratory
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NanoLab, Inc.