Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters

Lithium-air battery: Promise and challenges

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The lithium-air system captured worldwide attention in 2009 as a possible battery for electric vehicle propulsion applications. If successfully developed, this battery could provide an energy source for electric vehicles rivaling that of gasoline in terms of usable energy density. However, there are numerous scientific and technical challenges that must be overcome if this alluring promise is to turn into reality. The fundamental battery chemistry during discharge is thought to be the electrochemical oxidation of lithium metal at the anode and reduction of oxygen from air at the cathode. With aprotic electrolytes, as used in Li-ion batteries, there is some evidence that the process can be reversed by applying an external potential, i.e., that such a battery can be electrically recharged. This paper summarizes the authors view of the promise and challenges facing development of practical Li-air batteries and the current understanding of its chemistry. However, it must be appreciated that this perspective represents only a snapshot in a very rapidly evolving picture. © 2010 American Chemical Society.