Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

May 21

Air-fueled Battery for Electric Cars

Posted in Battery Technology | Electric Cars | Transportation

Air-fueled Battery A normal fossil fuel car (using an internal combustion engine) only needs the battery to start the engine as well as run the air conditioning system and the car stereo. But the scene is quite different with electric cars. Batteries run everything. So when one tries to buy an electric car his/her prime concern is battery. Electric car owners are still grappling with the quality and reliability of the electric car battery. The main concern is how long the battery will last before it needs recharging. Researchers are continuously trying to devise new ways for the battery to last longer and recharge easily. Imagine your phones, mp3 players, computers and laptops running for days without recharging, or for that matter your car running far longer on one charge than it presently can with a tank or two of gas. Using air power, it might be possible in as early as 5 years.

Researchers at the Scotland’s University of St. Andrews are working on a project on the air-powered battery. If successful they will replace the lithium cobalt oxide electrode in the fuel cell. The “STAIR” (St. Andres Air) battery will be compatible on all renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, and oxygen. Professor Peter Bruce who is leading his team for this project, is of the opinion, “Our target is to get a five to ten fold increase in storage capacity, which is beyond the horizon of current lithium batteries. The key is to use oxygen in the air as a re-agent, rather than carry the necessary chemicals around inside the battery.”

The major advantages will be the battery will be cheaper and lighter in weight too. Because they are not using expensive material but lightweight porous carbon. This carbon inhales oxygen from the atmosphere while the battery is discharging. We can see that there will be a regular round of charge and discharge. The oxygen will be sucked in through an exterior of the battery that is exposed to air. This oxygen will react within the pores of the carbon to discharge the battery. “Not only is this part of the process free, the carbon component is much cheaper than current technology,” Bruce says.

This research project was assigned on a four year basis. Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council of Great Britain (EPSRC) is sponsoring this project. The project has just completed two years but it has already achieved a battery lasting 8 times longer than a lithium cobalt oxide battery. The original aim was to achieve a battery with a 5 to 10 times more life than contemporary batteries. EPSRC explains, “By discharging batteries to provide electricity and recharging them when the wind blows or sun shines, renewables become a much more viable option.”

The air powered batteries might take five more years to be commercially produced. But they will be available for your cell phones, laptops and mp3 players first.

  • ari soffer

    The light weight would be a great thing for small electric helicopters and planes for military use as well. Plenty of fresh air where the planes fly

  • Ravi Soparkar

    I must congratulate Prof. Peter Bruce and his team for developing air fueled batteries. Air fueled batteries will have great advantages as multifold power capacity, almost zero pollution and cost effective too. We look forward to see commercial production much before scheduled time. Ravi Soparkar, Pune, India

  • Ahsanullah Soomro

    This is great research by Professor Peter Bruce and his team. I congratulate them for this occasion. Hope further research will be continue and car will be present at market soon.

  • Servaas

    It binds carbon with oxygen to produce energy, like the normal polluting fuels. Is this new technology than really an improvement for the environment? It might be lasting longer but if it is polluting we would probably never use it in the new generation of cars.

  • Brett

    I’m not sure this is some great breakthrough. There are already batteries used for small devices like hearing aids that are air activated. You remove a piece of tape from the battery before placing it in the device, and the oxidation of zinc creates a charge. There’s a quick overview on Wikipedia:

  • http://mybox Francisco A Roque

    Can hardly wait to get my hands on one, in the meantime, let’s try resuscitating the air car, like tata motors, the rest of the world needs to work on these projects to eliminate gasoline, that is my goal.

  • Tamar

    It sounds like this fuel cell is breathing – in oxygen, out CO2. So – if we use these, we will end up with not enough Oxygen to breathe. I would not want such a car.

  • Luc


    The current fuel burning cars are also using oxygen.(part of burning process)
    But I don’t know what’s the difference in amount of oxygen needed by this battery and diesels/petrol engines…?

  • Enayat Bhutani

    I must congratulate Prof. Peter Bruce and his team for developing air fueled batteries. Agreed to the point of great battery back up, lighter in weight and much cheaper than the normal battery. But again the point is how much it will effect our environment in terms of pollution as there is clearly mentioned that carbon will inhale oxygen in atmospheric conditions, which will conceptually leads to the formation of CO2. You can’t neglect the effective work that prof. is doing but still the concern is of pollution.

  • ken upton

    There was another Prof . His name was William Beale who invented the Free piston stirling engine about 40 years ago in the USA . This is what is needed for charging ,as the FPSE will run on any heat source> from the heat of sunshine on the roof car to anything that burns in the open air in the boot .Using the right sort home grown fuel ,the carbon can be put back into our ecosystems to make the same things grow for ever more .

    The only problem with these engines .They are cheap and simple and can almost cost nothing to run ,so our present money money systems .Do not want them to be used. Rev Stirling and Mr Diesel made their basic inventions over 200 years ago. We still use diesel ,as you pay for the tank of fuel. It’s another story ,when you can just pick it up or it comes in. As the daylight starts to light up your lives and charge your cars heat sink. Why does mankind have to make such a big deal.When our planet is falling apart from overuse,bad management,exploitation ,etc
    etc .Just a few years ago the Stirling cycle was updated to rotary Peer cycle ,that would be even better for EV charging .

  • Matthew Ndubuisi

    The idea sounds great. Suppose a solar panel is placed on top of the car to recharge the battery as the car runs. That will extend the life of the battery and possibly remove the convectional recharging method.

  • Dowlan Smith

    Brett- Zinc-oxide batteries can be electrically recharged but can obtain a higher energy density currently with mechanical replacement of the cathode cartrige and factory recycling.

    The article does not tell what kind of Carbon-Oxygen molecule is formed. My understanding is that the oxygen is captured in the battery and then released when recharged so no CO or CO2 is released. It is a battery not a fuel-cell.

  • Noah

    @Servaas and Tamar:

    If they’re getting the carbon in the batteries from non-fossil sources, then releasing it as CO2 is probably a closed loop, making this technology carbon neutral. It’s like burning ethanol: the plants used to make the ethanol take CO2 out out of the air, so when the ethanol is burned, it’s just putting back what was there earlier.

    Unfortunately, the write-up on this is a little slim on the details, so we don’t really know where the carbon is coming from. I’m googling, but not finding anything on how the carbon is sourced.

  • Falcon

    This battery technology is life changing. According to the press, Bruce and company have already achieved 8x capacity over current batteries…with their goal of 10x in sight. Today you have an electric car that can run 200 miles on a single charge, imagine now 1600-2000 miles on a single charge. If this technology can be wrapped up with the MIT “fast charge” or “beltway battery” research to recharge Lithium Ion batteries in 30 seconds, the cost to run those 2000 miles would be fractions of what we pay now per liter of fuel. Houses could have solar panels charging banks of batteries that could give the homeowner power during low-light condition and at night. These batteries would impact every single technology of our modern lives and make possible new technologies that were not available to us merely because energy storage was not compact enough. With mobile phones using this technology a user would probably never need to physically plug a phone in for recharging, the user could merely set it on a induction charging plate for 30 seconds and the battery could last – well on mine I can talk for 9 hours on a charge, imagine 90 hours. Cities could have “battery only” zones to reduce air pollution. Whatever company gets the licence to manufacture, I would buy up every share I could afford. Brilliant simply brilliant!

  • Ace

    Wow falcon, that sounds amazing its amazing. How fast they’re progressing. It would be great to be able to drive that car with you being able to relax since you don’t have to worry much on your environment.

  • Darrin Cook

    Good Day,

    I think it is great to have alternative energy sources. However, without knowing too much about the “Air fed” technology it makes me wonder if we would have to compete for air if lots of these vehicles were on the road. We know the potential problems with competing for food when corn and other foods are used for ethanol production. So far, my preference is the EESTOR ultracapacitor that is going to be used in the ZENNergy Drivetrain fall this year 2009. It is solid state (No chemicals), recyclable cheap and best of all, it will recharge in less than 10-minutes. The range is 400 kms at 120kms (250miles @ 75mph)The price of the car will be in the mid-20’s range. ZENN is not an auto maker, they are a drivetrain developer which means they want to be able to produce drivetrain systems for whatever “IS” on the road as well as what “Will be” on the road.

  • Mike

    If this battery absorbs oxygen while discharging then it will release oxygen when charging. Don’t be such worry worts about carbon dioxide. Plants love carbon dioxide. They need it to live. Carbon dioxide levels increase AFTER the Earth begins to warm. Have you read about Climategate. Have you read how the leading research scientists were caught red handed falsifying the data and punishing those climate scientists that did not agree with manmade global warming by denying them grant money? Have you read about the medieval warming period when the Earth was considerably warmer than it is now? Do you realize that the Sun has the biggest influence on our climate? Wake up!

  • Christopher smith

    Why don’t we just have spare batteries that are fully charged in a swapping station. Then instead of waiting hours & hours, you would just swap a drained battery with a fully charged one after a small fee.


  • Alasdair I. Macgregor

    I have just discovered this website and its excellent. This new technology looks well suited to the new SkyCat Hybrid Airship technology. My interest in the Skycat is that my own new Micro-reservoir / fresh water conservation tool would benefit from its use as a logistics and disseminating medium. I am close to generating investment funding from the US and possibly India but not sadly, from the UK.

  • battery

    The idea has been existed for many years in Japan. Here is one example US20040241537.

  • Jack

    So it sounds like the battery breaths oxygen binds with the carbon and expels carbon dioxide? If so, real great idea.

    This is no better than the current fossil fuels we use and we are consuming oxygen (which we need to live) and adding to the carbon footprint that we are trying to avoid, nice!

  • Trontek Group

    Technology is growing day by day and its an perfect example of it. Further research is still needed in this area and we all are waiting for the launching of car.

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