Do the folks at MIT set an alarm clock for 8 a.m. each morning to remind themselves to announce a cleantech breakthrough? OK, that’s an exaggeration, but clearly a lot of hefty brainpower in Cambridge, Mass., is devoted to figuring out new ways to get the most out of energy, with energy storage a particular focus.

The latest advance: “Researchers have found a way to improve the energy density of lithium-air (or lithium-oxygen) batteries,” the university announced, “producing a device that could potentially pack several times more energy per pound than the lithium-ion batteries that now dominate the market for rechargeable devices in everything from cellphones to cars.”

energy storage breakthrough, MIT
image via MIT/Jin Suntivich

This research builds on earlier MIT research, which we reported on in April, demonstrating that electrodes with gold or platinum as a catalyst show a much higher level of activity and efficiency than simple carbon electrodes.

image via MIT

“The new work takes this advantage one step further,” MIT said, “creating carbon-fiber-based electrodes that are substantially more porous than other carbon electrodes, and can therefore more efficiently store the solid oxidized lithium that fills the pores as the battery discharges.”

Backing up the importance of this work, the university quotes Ji-Guang Zhang, a laboratory fellow in battery technology at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, calling it “original and high-quality work” that “demonstrates a very unique approach to preparing high-capacity electrodes for lithium-air batteries.”

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