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Electrolytes for Improved Lithium-Air Batteries

The US Army seeks a partner to license and commercialize electrolytes for improved lithium-air batteries in support of high specific energy applications.

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The Technology: 

Although lithium-air (Li-Air) batteries promise twice the theoretical energy density of Li-CFx batteries, low discharge rates of Li-Air batteries impede a broader transformation of the technology into a range of applications, notably soldier borne applications. Scientists at the Army Research Laboratory’s (ARL’s) Sensor and Electronic Devices Directorate have developed novel electrolytes for Li-Air batteries that will enable an increase in energy density, temperature range, and energy discharge rates.

Metal/air batteries utilizing alkali and alkaline earth metal anodes are very popular because the cathode’s active material, oxygen, does not have to be stored in the battery but can be accessed from the environment. Zinc-air batteries, for example, are used widely in hearing aid devices and in pagers. However, Li-Air cell technology is growing in popularity owing in part to its high energy density, which is almost 10 times greater than zinc-air electrochemistry, and 30 times greater than Li-ion rechargeable batteries.

The technical challenge addressed by ARL occurs where discharge rate becomes an issue: transport of oxygen gas from the porous carbon cathode to the active reduction sites is low. ARL’s technology, based on low viscosity, high oxygen-solubility electrolytes, increases the flow of dissolved oxygen to these sites and thereby increases the rate capability and temperature range of the battery. Improved membrane technology will also enhance this approach.


• Lithium-air cells have much higher energy storage potential as compared to other metal-air batteries and this format allows for lighter, smaller batteries
• Low viscosity and high O2 solubility increase O2 transport, discharge rates, temperature range, and rate capability
• Commercially available low-cost materials and no use of transition metal oxides in the cathode
• Applications include primary batteries for soldier borne and stationary applications

The Opportunity: 

• Issued US Patent 7,585,579 is available for license
• Potential for collaboration with ARL inventor team and laboratory
• Additional information available