Lithium-air batteries could offer ten times the life of current Li-ion batteries

by: Gary SimsJune 15, 2012


Recent advances in battery technology could mean that the next generation of batteries will last ten times longer than current batteries.

The new tech known as Lithium-air batteries use the oxygen in the air as part of the chemical reactions that make batteries work. The biggest hurdle up until now has been that the oxygen also reacts with other parts of the battery causing them to deteriorate.

But the latest research has turned up an electrolyte material that doesn’t react with oxygen. This means that, in the lab at least, Lithium-air batteries are stable and can be charged-discharged multiple times without a performance drop. If these batteries ever make it to the market, they could have ten times the capacity of today’s lithium-ion batteries.

So what does that mean for smartphones and tablets? The average battery life of the Samsung Galaxy S3 while surfing the web is a little over 5 hours. Now imagine the same phone with a Lithium-air battery, that number would jump to 50 hours.

What about a tablet? The advertised battery life of the Amazon Kindle Fire is 8 hours for video playback. This means you can watch a couple of films and still have enough charge to check your email and play a bit of Angry Birds. But what if it had a Lithium-air battery. The theoretical life would be 80 hours. That means you could charge the tablet and then use it for an entire week. You could watch a film a day and spend several hours surfing the web and playing games and still have power in the battery after seven or eight days.

With 80 hours of potential battery life, tablet and smartphone designers would have unprecedented power resources available. This could be used to power brighter displays and boost the usage of traditionally battery draining items such as Bluetooth, NFC and GPS. It also means that less battery material needs to be used making the devices smaller and lighter.

Got an idea about how all that extra battery life could be used? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

  • AppleFUD

    we keep hearing about all this new battery tech — 90% charge in 1 minute, 10x life, ext. . . . but nothing is showing up in the market.

  • Hope it makes it to the market in the next 2 years…!

  • AppleFUD – batteries aren’t a technology you can just roll out without a lot of testing and government approval. If they release too soon and one explodes, leaks, stops working after a few days, the battery will never come to a true fruition. I don’t need the technology rushed, I just want it to deliver. It won’t be soon after the battery is brought to market that we will have cell phones as powerful as our laptops we have now. (Unless you have an iphone, then you will just have an iphone)

    • AppleFUD

      Oh, I get that. However, there have been several technologies come to market and maybe one or two companies (HP, Toshiba to name a couple) use it on one or two devices for a generation then you never hear about it again.

      Example: fast charging
      HP & Toshiba both introduced laptops with batteries that charged a lot faster than traditional Lithium Ion batteries. . . . and then nothing, no advertising, no continuation in other products, nothing. Didn’t even hear any bad press about them.

      Seems more like these companies would rather push toward the bottom line instead of push new tech — guess we’ll have to wait till apple puts it in an iDevice then everyone will freak out and have to have it in everything.

      • Vision

        The problem is that generally if it’s an in house solution by a specific manufacturer, they patent it and only use it on their devices. If those devices don’t flourish, they get scrapped and disappear behind the sunset. No one wants to pay licensing fees for something that doesn’t make a completely platform changing experience. If a company had released batteries with the performance characteristics of Lithium-air and they were successful in successful products, we would see it, but if you stick all of that in HP Pre3s that never see the light of day, then there’s no proved performance to warrant licensing a patent.

        • AppleFUD

          That’s why I think a lot of these technologies will never make it to market. Most of this stuff is being developed by universities and they need to be licensed and most of the big tech companies don’t want to pay for it. they would rather develop their own but thus far haven’t produced anything worth while.

      • Not just an in house solution but in terms of chemistry, the structure needed for mass production changes a lot. So, if you produce a laptop that is expected to sell figures of thousands is one thing, but phones and specially being a supplier of batteries in general would have expected sales of more than millions. To make a battery in the lab you need some tubes and to mix some stuff… no try to mix stuff a million times bigger… and just a thought but many reactions expand in volume so… they need to build it first.

        So, in this case, finding out what works is not enough, you need to find out and implement the whole structure to support mass production

    • Haithem Obeidi

      They’ve been developing new battery tech for the longest time, I can’t believe with everything they have accomplished they can’t bring us better batteries, I’m sure if more companies were pushing for better batteries we’d have them now. I’m sure there is a lot patents and bull shit government regulations that are stopping these batteries coming to fruition.

    • Jack Bauery

      party pooper

  • hey don’t give them ways to drain more battery! Lithium Air sounds great… but they should still have an energy efficient approach to features… we never really needed bluetooth and GPS is just fine by connecting only when we need it. I think having the benefit a 10 fold autonomy is enough in itself…. considering that because of that, to cut costs OEMs will not give you a tiny little Lithium Air bat with just a bit more autonomy than today’s

  • Miguel Salles II

    Does this mean Electric Cars will run without ever needing to be charged and I can fly my remote helicopter around longer. Umm, I should be getting paid for these ideas…LOL

  • If it is developed and if the manufactures feel the market is there for such a battery such a battery will be. It matters little what anyone thinks or dreams about.