PolyPlus, a developer of high-energy, lithium metal batteries, has had its lithium battery named one of TIME Magazine's 50 best inventions for 2011. The PolyPlus lithium battery uses ordinary seawater or air interacting with lithium to deliver unprecedented energy density levels in a non-toxic, environmentally friendly and inherently safe product.
An early innovator in battery technology and the inventor of lithium sulfur batteries, PolyPlus has developed a new technology, the Protected Lithium Electrode (PLE), which enables the creation of a new class of high-energy density batteries. Simply put, the lithium is encased in a special, patented membrane that allows it in to react with water or ambient air, depending on its configuration, to deliver its high-energy performance. Without the membrane, lithium reacts vigorously with water and rapidly dissolves, or rapidly oxidizes when exposed to air.
The PolyPlus lithium-water battery has achieved a world record energy density of 1,300 Wh/kg, many times more than the maximum energy density of current lithium-ion batteries. Aimed at the marine market, the battery boasts an extremely long lifetime, making it ideal for such applications as underwater robots or unmanned, underwater vehicles.
A key feature of the lithium-water battery is that it does not hold the positive electrode and water inside it, but reacts directly with the oxygen in water or directly with the air that surrounds it to produce its power. This means the battery will be much easier to produce and at a lower cost than other batteries. It also significantly reduces the size and weight of the battery.
PolyPlus is currently testing samples of its lithium-water battery and expects the product to be commercially available in 2013. PolyPlus also is developing a lithium-air rechargeable battery with exceptional energy density levels, which is advantageous for products such as portable electronics. Its rechargeable lithium air batteries hold the promise of achieving the "holy grail" for electric vehicles -- 500 miles per charge.
"As we move aggressively to commercialize our lithium batteries, this recognition from TIME Magazine reflects the progress we have made and the great potential for this technology," said Steven Visco, CEO and a company founder. "We are moving rapidly toward delivering batteries that last much longer and are far lighter than anything available today."
Source and top image: PolyPlus