Glass-ceramic material to enable lithium-air batteries

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GERMAN company SCHOTT is developing glass-ceramic as a separator material for lithium-air batteries, hoping to extend the life of the next-generation battery technology.

Lithium-air batteries, with greater energy density than current lithium-ion batteries at 1000 Wh/kg, can deliver three to five times higher capacity.

The SCHOTT-backed GLANZ project is a publicly funded venture which is an acronym for the German phrase meaning “anodes and cells protected by glass”. The core of its focus is an ion-conducting material.

This glass-ceramic powder with a defined grain size offers high conductivity for lithium ions and outstanding electrochemical resistance. It is bound inside an organic matrix. Together, both elements form a highly stable and dense separator membrane between the two electrodes in the lithium-air battery.

The separator material is intended to enable the battery to operate properly.

Inside a lithium-air battery, positively charged lithium ions migrate from the anode (positive electrode) to the cathode (negative electrode) during discharging. At the same time, the remaining free electrons flow to the cathode through an external circuit and bond here with the oxygen and lithium ions.

This process is reversed when the battery is charging. During this process, it is important that no undesirable chemical reactions occur due to the fact that these can render the battery unusable after only a few charge-discharge cycles.

GLANZ aims to encapsulate the highly reactive lithium-metal anode and create a model to demonstrate the general feasibility of this approach.