UT-Dallas researcher advances lithium-air battery

A lithium-air battery could allow electric cars to go 400 miles and allow mobile phones to operate for a week on each charge. | File photo

University of Texas-Dallas Professor Kyeongjae Cho recently published research in Nature Energy, wherein he detailed a new catalyst material for lithium-air batteries that could prove revolutionary in increasing battery life.

Lithium-air batteries replace a stored oxidizer, which triggers the chemical reaction that releases electricity, with oxygen from the air. It could allow electric cars to go 400 miles and allow mobile phones to operate for a week on each charge.

“There’s huge promise in lithium-air batteries,” Cho said. “However, despite the aggressive research being done by groups all over the world, those promises are not being delivered in real life. So this is very exciting progress. [UT Dallas graduate student] Yongping Zheng and our collaboration team have demonstrated that this problem can be solved. Hopefully, this discovery will revitalize research in this area and create momentum for further development.”

In their research, Cho and Zheng’s results suggest that soluble-type catalysts are generally much more efficient than solid-type catalysts. Based on those findings they have developed a new catalyst, dimethylphenazine, with researchers from Seoul National University.

“This is a major step,” Cho said. “Hopefully it will revitalize the interest in lithium-air battery research, creating momentum that can make this practical, rather than just an academic research study.”

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