Clive Crookson:

A breakthrough in electrochemistry at Cambridge university could lead the way to rechargeable super-batteries that pack five times more energy into a given space than today’s best batteries, greatly extending the range of electric vehicles and potentially transforming the economics of electricity storage.

Chemistry professor Clare Grey and her team have overcome technical challenges in the development of lithium-air batteries — the only cells theoretically capable of giving electric cars the range of petrol and diesel vehicles without having to carry excessively bulky and heavy battery packs.

If the technology can be turned from a laboratory demonstrator into a commercial product, it will enable a car to drive from London to Edinburgh on a single charge, with batteries that cost and weigh one-fifth of the lithium-ion cells that power today’s electric cars.

“What we’ve achieved is a significant advance for this technology and suggests whole new areas for research,” said Prof Grey. “We haven’t solved all the problems inherent to this chemistry but our results do show routes forward.”