Ever Run Your Car On Air ... Intentionally? The STAIR Air-Fueled Battery
If you've ever run your gas tank down so low that you could swear you were driving on air, you'll be pleased to know that in the near future, you will be driving on an air-fueled battery.
Within the next five years we could see electric cars that can run far longer on one charge than a tank or two of gas. Your computer and cell phone batteries could last for several days without charging... while they are in use! In one huge step for the electronics and renewable energy industries, air power could actually be in 'charge.'
Researchers at Scotland's University of St. Andrews are reporting great progress in their work on the air-powered battery, which is being designed to replace the lithium cobalt oxide electrode in the fuel cell. The "STAIR" (St. Andres Air) battery will run on all renewable sources, including solar, wind, and oxygen!
That would certainly make for a lighter-weight battery... What is lighter than air, after all? But the batteries would be cheaper as well, as the battery cells would be made with a lightweight porous carbon. The carbon uses oxygen drawn from the air while the battery is discharging, so there is a constant cycle of charge and discharge.
The four-year research project, sponsored by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Councle of Great Britain (EPSRC), is not even two years underway, but the project has already achieved a battery lasting 8 times longer than a lithium cobalt oxide battery, and the overall goal was to achieve a battery with 5 to 10 times more life.
The air battery addresses the problems of intermittent supply. According to the EPSRC, "By discharging batteries to provide electricity and recharging them when the wind blows or sun shines, renewables become a much more viable option. "
It may be five more years before STAIR air batteries are available on the market, so start saving for your air-powered car! But the STAIR will probably show up in laptops, mp3s and cell phones first....