35 years for lithium-air batteries to mature

Lithium air batteries appear on track to eventually replace lithium-ion batteries, but it will take innovations and decades to fully mature.

Innovations and decades to mature

The lithium-ion replacement

Battery Project 500 is an IBM research project focused on developing next generation battery technologies that can achieve 500 miles per charge with a particular focus on lithium-air batteries.

Unfortunately, while lithium-air is showing great promise, the researchers caution that it has taken 35 years of development for lithium-ion battery technologies to finally appear in automobiles, and the transition to lithium-air will probably take just as long.

According to the researchers there is no expectation that current battery technologies, most notably lithium-ion, will ever come close to matching the energy density of gasoline. Consequently, entirely new chemistries will be required to compete with gasoline, and metal-air appears to be the most plausible technology thus far.

Of course, that means decades of oil, especially foreign, dependence.

Certainly, unexpected breakthroughs are a possibility, but unless the American auto consumer is willing to accept a paradigm shifting change in personal transportation expectations and requirements, plugging in America's fleet of automobiles will only be a partial solution to America's energy problems for many decades to come.

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