Next Big Thing – breathing batteries

Want a car that runs on oxygen? IBM might have just the battery for your future motor

A car that runs on air?

Pretty much. A breathing battery has indeed been built as part of IBM's Battery 500 project, in which science bods are aiming to produce a car battery that will last 500 miles. It's not automotive voodoo either. Oxygen flows into the main cell of the battery, gets divided into tiny spaces and then reacts with lithium ions to make lithium peroxide and release those all-important electrons.

Does the car end up with bad breath?

Would you believe it, the battery will even release oxygen when it's recharging. Once the battery has lost its charge, it'll need to be hooked to a power source and that's when the whole process is completely reversed. Clever stuff.

I get the feeling there's a small man breathing heavily under the hood.

It's real science, we tell you. No-one's going to be secretly pedaling this IBM car. In fact, the only problem is we won't see this kind of tech in cars till at least 2020. Scientists need to find a way to bring the weight of the battery down to make sure the car doesn't need to consume masses of oxy-fuel to get started. Come on, chaps.

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