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Lithium-oxygen Battery Promises Lighter Electric Cars

Lithium-air batteries are supposed to lead to lighter, longer-ranged electric cars thanks to their high power-to-weight output, but they have some show-stopping flaws: they not only degrade rapidly, but waste a lot of energy input as heat. Neither is exactly ideal in a vehicle that’s expected to last you several years and charge quickly. Scientists at MIT, Argonne National Laboratory and Peking University might have found a better way, though. They’ve engineered a lithium-oxygen battery that offers the light weight of lithium-air without its drawbacks.

Right now, the battery exists solely as a proof of concept in a lab. However, there is a plan to create a prototype within a year. It’s realistic, too, as it doesn’t need expensive materials and could be used just like a run-of-the-mill lithium-ion battery. Should all go well, you could see electric cars that store twice as much energy at a given weight as lithium-ion cells. That, in turn, could lead to EVs that either end range anxiety or don’t have to weigh so much to deliver the range you get today.

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