Researchers create lithium-air battery that could be 10x more powerful than lithium-ion


A new lithium-air battery created by researchers at the University of Cambridge points the way to the ultimate battery packs of the future, its makers say. With a very high energy density, more than 90 percent efficiency and the capability for more than 2,000 recharge cycles, the new test battery could prove an important stepping stone in the development of this essential technology.

If you’re getting tired of announcements about breakthroughs in battery technology, that’s understandable: as they’re so essential to modern life, many teams of scientists are busy working on the problem around the clock, but it’s an incredibly complex area of chemistry. Any new battery has to improve on what we already have, be safe to use in consumer gadgets, and be commercially viable enough to be affordable for manufacturers.

Those are difficult targets to hit, and that’s why many ‘miracle’ batteries have since fallen by the wayside – once the initial lab work is done, proving concepts and scaling up production is very difficult to get right. The potential rewards are huge though, not just for smartphones but for electric cars and solar power, where batteries are essential for storing energy to use when the sun isn’t shining.

The idea of a lithium-air or lithium-oxygen battery isn’t new – scientists have known for a while that these types of batteries can hold up to 10 times the charge of today’s lithium-ion packs (imagine not having to charge your phone for a whole week). What the Cambridge University team has done is overcome some of the practical challenges that had previously prevented lithium-air technology from being a viable option.

The new battery from the Cambridge University lab has a higher capacity, better efficiency and improved stability compared with previous attempts – this stability, crucial if we’re to put these batteries into millions of cars and smartphones, was reached by using a ‘fluffy’ carbon electrode made from graphene. What’s more, by changing the chemical mix from earlier versions of lithium-air batteries, the researchers were able to prevent the battery from degrading significantly over time.

“What we’ve achieved is a significant advance for this technology and suggests whole new areas for research – we haven’t solved all the problems inherent to this chemistry, but our results do show routes forward towards a practical device,” said Clare Grey, the paper’s senior author, in a press statement.

Now for the bad news: this technology is still a decade or so away. The demonstration battery produced by the scientists still needs pure oxygen in order to charge – not something many of us have a ready supply of – and there’s still the risk of the battery exploding due to the dendrites (spindly lithium metal fibres) created during the charging process. Eventually, these issues will be dealt with, but it’s going to take a lot of research and experimentation first.

“While there are still plenty of fundamental studies that remain to be done, to iron out some of the mechanistic details, the current results are extremely exciting… we’ve shown that there are solutions to some of the tough problems associated with this technology,” added Grey.

This Hypersonic Plane Concept Could Cross Atlantic In Under An Hour


How fast should a plane cross the Atlantic? When Charles Lindbergh did it in 1927, it took him, via the Spirit of St. Louis, 33 hours, 30 minutes, 29.8 seconds. Direct flights on large jets today last around six and a half hours. The (now defunct) supersonic Concorde could do it in three and a half hours. Now, a new concept plane, sketched out by Canadian engineer and inventor, Charles Bombardier, can theoretically cross the pond in just over 40 minutes. Presented in Canada’s The Globe and Mail, Bombardiers Skreemr is a concept hypersonic airliner.

To get to full speed, the Skreemr would combine three fast technologies: rockets, scramjets, and magnetic rails. First, the plane would accelerate along a special runway, much like this sled is hurtled from an aircraft carrier into the sea by an electromagnetic catapult. To continue the acceleration, the Skreemr would fire rockets, boosting it into the air. Then, once it attained a supersonic speed, the scramjets would kick in, accelerating the plane through the sky at speeds of at least four times the speed of sound. Bombardier envisions the design working up to Mach 10.

As planned out, the Skreemr is a passenger plane, carrying 75 humans comfortably with rocket-like speed across the sea in mere minutes. It will also, in the designer’s vision, be powered by clean electricity for the magnetic rail and by hydrogen fuel cells for the plane itself, as befits a largely hypothetical craft. Bombardier says, “the Skreemr concept aims to ignite your imagination around this idea,” so don’t expect to see it over the Atlantic this century. Still, similar designs may fly. This past summer, Airbus patented a plane conceptthat uses rockets, jets, and ramjets to fly near space and then plummet efficiently back to Earth, covering thousands of miles in just a few hours.

Skreemr Concept Art

B Vitamins to protect your brain, and your heart


There are three B-vitamins that are critical to prevent memory loss and stroke. They can even help reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s Disease as you get on in years.

Vitamins B12, B6 and folate can also help to improve your memory now, and for the long term, as well as boost your mood and energy levels. Sounds like B vitamins might be the key to a generally happy, life right?

The benefits of supplementing folate, B6 and B12 are astounding. The results are most noticeable in people with blood pressure and high homocysteine levels. B-vitamins work to normalize homocysteine, which is a hormone linked to increasing blood pressure. The lowering of homocysteine may also aid in preventing Alzheimer’s and dementia, especially as you age. B vitamins protect the brain from atrophying and slow down age-related changes in its composition.

Not only do B vitamins protect your brain and heart, they help to boost your mood and energy levels. Keep your youthful wit and spirit alive with folate, B6 and B12