The lithium/air couple has a theoretical energy density that is close to the limit of what is possible for a battery (~10,000 Wh/kg). Although lithium/air chemistry has intrigued battery scientists for decades, it was only with the recent invention of the protected lithium electrode (PLE) by PolyPlus that lithium/air batteries are now approaching commercial reality. Primary Li/Air technology is nearing commercialization and has already achieved specific energies in excess of 700 Wh/kg (~ 2 Ah cells). Rechargeable Li/Air technology, also based on the protected lithium electrode, is still in development, but is expected to achieve much higher energy density than commercial Li-ion chemistry. It is unlikely that conventional battery technology can safely exceed a specific energy of 250 Wh/kg since stoichiometric oxidant and reductant are present in concentrated form. However, in a lithium/air battery oxygen is utilized from the ambient atmosphere, as needed for the cell reaction, resulting in a safe, high specific energy power source. The use of a solid electrolyte membrane in advanced Li/Air technology also eliminates self-discharge, leading to exceptionally good shelf life and maintenance of high quality inventory over time.
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