Car battery of future: inside IBM’s coolest lab

This article is reprinted from Building43, Rackspace’s lab where we discover bleeding edge technologies and companies.

The days of $1.50 gasoline are long gone, and high costs coupled with environmental concerns have ignited a search for the battery that will power the cars of the future. IBM is at the forefront of this effort with its development of the lithium air super-battery.

The goal “is to create a battery that will power the typical family car about 500 miles between recharges,” explains Winfried Wilcke, Senior Manager, Nanoscale Science and Technology with IBM. “Today’s batteries…fall short of this goal by quite a factor, with [the best batteries] only lasting approximately 200 to 240 miles.”

Bridging this gap requires drastically increasing the battery’s energy density by making it lighter. IBM reduces the weight by getting rid of the heavy transition metal oxides like cobalt oxide or manganese oxide and replacing them with a lightweight, high-surface carbon structure.

The lithium air battery represents “the highest energy density of any imaginable system,” says Wilcke, “but it’s not easy to do. It’s a long-term project currently in its early science phases, but in the last six or seven months we have gotten a lot of positive results, which make me cautiously optimistic that this can actually work.”

Wilcke hopes to have a lithium air battery in cars by 2020. A battery that could power a car for 500 miles would certainly be worth the wait.

More info:

IBM Research – Almaden web site: http://www.almaden.ibm.com/
IBM Research – Dr. Winfried Wilke: http://www.almaden.ibm.com/background/?wilcke

About Robert Scoble

As Startup Liaison for Rackspace, the Open Cloud Computing Company, I travel the world with Rocky Barbanica looking for what's happening on the bleeding edge of technology and report that here.

3 thoughts on “Car battery of future: inside IBM’s coolest lab

  1. This is great. this is no surprise. IBM is really one of those few companies that can do innovative products and devices. Great video! Thank you for sharing this one. By the way, please do at least comb your hair before doing an interview. lol. Just a piece of advice.

  2. Maybe the Scobleizer will realize that web apps and mobile apps maybe cool and tons of VC’s will be willing to throw small chunks of money at several hundred startups. They don’t have the balls nor the desire to fund something like this or take the risks involved.
    This is one of the many things only governments and someone like IBM can do.
    I hope you will cover more such things instead of the next twitter or instagram etc…
    Check out http://batt.lbl.gov/
    Thanks for sharing…

Comments are closed.