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 University of Science & Technology (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.
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.