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PHOTO CAPTION: IBM lithium-air prototype 'Swagelok Cells'

IBM Demonstrates Lithium-Air Battery Prototype

Demonstration of working lithium-air battery may lead to production model for use in electric vehicles sometime after 2020, IBM researchers say.

Published: 21-Apr-2012

IBM has demonstrated a battery that breathes.

Under the aegis of its Battery 500 project — an effort to build a battery capable of powering a car for 500 miles — Big Blue has designed a battery that produces power by taking in oxygen and then recharges by expelling oxygen. Because its driven by the outside air, such a battery can be significantly smaller and lighter than traditional lithium ion batteries, providing a much longer life per square inch.

Researchers have long explored this sort of “lithium-air” battery, but IBM’s demonstration shows it can actually be built. “The fundamental operation of the battery is no longer in question at all,” says Winfried Wilcke, the senior manager of IBM’s project. The company believes that with this technology, it can indeed produce a car battery that can take you 500 miles.

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