IBM researchers look to improve electric cars

April 20, 2012 7:19:25 PM PDT
Scientists are getting closer to making an electric car that can travel 500 miles on a single charge. The concept is being worked on at IBM's research park in San Jose.

This is cutting edge battery innovation; IBM's supercomputer has already told these researchers it's possible to build a car battery light enough and powerful enough to travel 500 miles on a single charge.

"We have demonstrated that this fundamental process is actually occurring and it was not, like oftentimes, a straight story, like oftentimes, a Sherlock Holmes story, you have all sorts of twists and turns going on," IBM senior manager Winfried Wilcke said.

The Battery 500 team is unraveling the mystery of how to borrow oxygen from the air and produce an electrifying chemical reaction using lithium. One key element is membrane technology.

"It's got to be holey enough for the air to get through and have the reaction take place with the lithium ions," project team member Sally Swanson said.

Revolutionary battery technology takes time. IBM hopes it's lithium air batteries are powering our cars in the next 10-15 years.

So far they have been able to build a battery the size of a dime that powers a tiny LED light for two days. Now the work focuses on how to produce a larger battery that recharges safely, cheaply and can work for many years.

IBM is known worldwide as Big Blue, but it admits to taking on a green hue with its Battery 500 project.


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