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The lithium-air battery, Li-air for short, is a metal-air battery chemistry that uses the oxidation of lithium at the anode and reduction of oxygen at the cathode to induce a current flow. Originally proposed in the 1970’s as a possible power source for electric vehicles, Li-air batteries recaptured scientific interest in the late 2000’s due to advances in materials technology and an increasing demand for environmentally safe and oil-independent energy sources.
The major appeal of the Li-air battery is the extremely high energy density, a measure of the amount of energy a battery can store for a given volume, which rivals that of traditional gasoline powered engines. Li-air batteries gain this advantage in energy density since they use oxygen from the air instead of storing an oxidizer internally.
The technology is still in its infancy and will require significant research efforts in a variety of fields, however, scientists and industry alike see potential in its development. Currently, four types of Li-air batteries are being pursued; aprotic, aqueous, solid state, and mixed aqueous/aprotic.