New battery revolution on the horizon?

Electric cars may soon be able to match diesel and petrol vehicles for endurance and power storage capacity, new research suggests.

Researchers from Cambridge University believe the answer lies in a revolutionary new battery with amazing properties.

They claim that their new ‘lithium-oxygen’ power cell has a gasoline-comparable energy density 10 times greater than current batteries.

This means it can hold far more extractable energy. In addition, it is 20% lighter and cheaper and over 90% more efficient than conventional batteries.

In simple mileage terms, scientists believe all this means that an e-car driver could travel from Edinburgh to London (around 400 miles) on a single charge.

Present-day lithium-ion batteries are among the barriers that have stood in the way of electric car development.

Also employed in smartphone devices and laptops, these light fuel cells have such limited energy densities that owners have to regularly recharge them.

As they get older, their capacity worsens too. But scientists say that these latest breakthroughs mean that people buying a car during the next decade could be more easily won over to the e-transport revolution.

They say it could presage a substantial increase in the number of non-polluting vehicles on Britain’s roads.

The Cambridge chemistry department’s Clare Grey describes the result so far as an exciting and substantial advance.

Professor Grey, lead scientist on the project, says that early findings suggest that e-car technology problems can be overcome, but much more work needs to be undertaken.