Over the last ten years, the number of small mobile electronic devices has risen dramatically thanks to smartphones and tablets. The success of these devices is based on the development of the lithium-ion battery, which has a significantly higher energy density than a conventional battery and therefore represents the state of the art at the moment. However, the increasing variety of applications for smartphones, which lead to higher energy consumption, will push the lithium-ion battery to its limits in the future. The same applies to electric cars. As long as their range and price is limited by lithium-ion batteries, they will not be able to assert themselves permanently against cars with combustion engines. A large number of research institutions and companies are therefore conducting research worldwide into more efficient and yet cheaper alternatives.
A technology that relies on a silicon alloy for the electrode material has so far reached market maturity. Thanks to a nanotechnology loan, the battery life of a smartphone is expected to increase by up to 20 percent. While a conventional anode consists of pure graphite, nanoparticles made of silicon are used here, which are only coated with graphite. Further growth potential is expected to be achieved with this technology by reducing the graphite content. However, an increase in energy density by a multiple is not to be expected here either.
Scientists see such potential in the so-called breathing batteries. In this case, the oxidation of lithium to atmospheric oxygen is used to store electricity in the battery. This promises only a high energy density but also a decisive weight advantage, as the required oxygen does not have to be stored in the battery. In theory, energy density comparable to that of petrol should even be achieved, which would make this development particularly interesting for electric cars. However, researchers are still struggling with numerous technical problems. Lithium-oxygen batteries can only be a promising alternative if a more stable electrolyte and a more resistant membrane material are found.
Whether one of these technologies or several of them will gain equal status next to each other in the future is still a question of whether they will be accepted in the future.