IBM's Battery 500 project, dedicated to building a lithium-air electric vehicle (EV) battery that can travel 500 miles on a single charge, has announced two new partners: chemical company Asahi Kasei and electrolyte manufacturer Central Glass, both of which currently provide materials for traditional lithium-ion batteries like those used in consumer electronics. IBM's project was originally conceived in 2009, but this addition could mean a step forward in serious research for the new battery.
Unlike today's EV batteries, which are usually based on a lead-acid or nickel-metal hydride (or, more rarely, lithium-ion) standard, IBM's theoretical battery would run on a combination of lithium ions and oxygen pulled from the atmosphere. As explained in the video below, the car would pull in oxygen, which would then react with the lithium to power the car. When the battery is charged, the process would be reversed, and the oxygen would be released back into the atmosphere. IBM says such a battery could be incredibly dense by current standards, letting it run huge distances. Since limited range is one of the biggest criticisms leveled against electric cars, this could remove a major barrier blocking their adoption.
The project is still in the very early stages, and IBM doesn't expect such a battery to be feasible until 2020 or 2030. If you're interested in IBM's work, you can check out the Battery 500 page here.