Air-fuelled battery to boost energy storage

Green batteries

Air could be the key to longer battery life, according to researchers across three UK universities.

Replacing the normal chemicals found in a battery with oxygen can increase energy storage by up to ten times, according to new findings from the University of St Andrews, along with partners from both Newcastle and Strathclyde universities.

Professor Peter Bruce of St Andrews said: "The key is to use oxygen in the air as a re-agent, rather than carry the necessary chemicals around inside the battery."

"Not only is this part of the process free, the carbon component is much cheaper than current technology," he added.

The 1.5 million research project is currently half way through its four year timetable and is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). The product is being named the STAIR, or St Andrews Air.

The team are working on a prototype to use it in small portable devices such as mobile phones or MP3 players.

A spokesperson for the research team said: "The new design has the potential to improve the performance of portable electronic products and give a major boost to the renewable energy industry."

"The batteries will enable a constant electrical output from sources such as wind or solar, which stop generating when the weather changes or night falls."

Professor Bruce estimated that the battery will take a minimum of five years development until we see it in the shops.

Jennifer Scott

Jennifer Scott is a former freelance journalist and currently political reporter for Sky News. She has a varied writing history, having started her career at Dennis Publishing, working in various roles across its business technology titles, including ITPro. Jennifer has specialised in a number of areas over the years and has produced a wealth of content for ITPro, focusing largely on data storage, networking, cloud computing, and telecommunications.

Most recently Jennifer has turned her skills to the political sphere and broadcast journalism, where she has worked for the BBC as a political reporter, before moving to Sky News.