Another day, another battery breakthrough. This time it's lithium-air batteries that have had an advancement which could mean cells that last five times longer than current ones.

Dr Kyeongjae Cho and his team at Dallas University have discovered a new catalyst for lithium-air batteries that can enhance capacity, theoretically, up to ten times. Until now researchers had been hitting a wall, which Cho hopes can now be circumnavigated to help progress in lithium-air battery developments.

The result should be batteries that will work in smartphones and cars, giving a far greater life and range. An electric car should be able to manage a 400-mile range while a smartphone could last a solid week, on a single charge.

The lithium-air batteries effectively breath oxygen to power the chemical reactions. This means they don't need to store an oxidiser like current lithium-ion batteries do. That means more room for a greater energy density, theoretically 10 times that of lithium-ion, and comparable to gasoline.

These lithium-air batteries, requiring less materials, would not only be one fifth of the weight of current batteries but would also be one fifth of the cost to produce.

Thanks to the newly developed catalyst, dimethylphenazine, the batteries should have a higher stability and voltage efficiency now.

The downside? This is a research breakthrough meaning it could still be a good five to ten years before we start to see these batteries in our gadgets and vehicles.

"This is a major step," Cho said. "Hopefully it will revitalise the interest in lithium-air battery research, creating momentum that can make this practical, rather than just an academic research study."

READ: Future batteries, coming soon

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