Electric cars today typically can travel only about 160 km (100 miles) on current battery technology, called lithium ion batteries. IBM researchers are exploring the science of lithium-air batteries, capable of powering an electric car at least 800 km (500 miles) on a single charge. This breakthrough could eventually enable electric vehicles (EVs) to compete with petrol engines.
IBM started the Battery 500 project in 2009 to develop a new type of lithium-air battery technology that is expected to improve energy density tenfold, dramatically increasing the amount of energy these batteries can generate and store.
IBM researchers are collaborating on Battery 500 project with teams from around the world. Now, IBM researchers have successfully demonstrated the fundamental chemistry of the charge-and-recharge process for lithium-air batteries.
Lithium-air batteries borrow oxygen from the air as the vehicle is being driven, air an air breathing battery and enabling extended range from a single charge.
Electric car batteries will be lighter due to the elimination of the heavy metal oxides used in the electric car batteries today, said IBM.
"Improved battery performance has the potential to spur electric vehicle (EV) adoption, an increasingly important issue for national governments and civil leaders, with the goal of decreasing dependency on oil and improving environmental conditions," IBM added.
According to reports, the first full-scale research prototype could be available by 2013 with commercial editions coming up in the 2020.