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Battery of the future

Everything from a life-saving artificial heart to an electric car could be powered by technology being designed at the University of St Andrews.

The School of Chemistry has been awarded nearly £1 million from industrial and research council sources (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) to develop new materials for rechargeable lithium batteries which will power everything from artificial hearts and laptops to environmentally-friendly vehicles and mobile phones.

Headed by Professor Peter Bruce, the 15-strong team will develop new materials for the batteries, which only came into existence in 1990. The final product will be a lighter, smaller, less toxic battery able to store more charge than the present batteries. At present, the battery is often the heaviest and largest part of portable electronic equipment. By making lithium batteries smaller, the next generation of portable devices will become smaller and also run for longer.

Professor Bruce believes one of the most exciting applications for the new technology is related to health – “Heart disease is currently a major cause of death in western society. By using lithium batteries to power lightweight and implantable artificial hearts, lives will undoubtedly be saved. Similarly, they could be used to power other blood pumps or artificial limbs. The lightweight and compact nature of the rechargeable lithium batteries makes them ideal for this purpose.”

Professor Bruce and his team are making important advances in the science underpinning rechargeable lithium batteries. They have synthesised new compounds for use as positive electrodes with a superior ability to store and retain charge on cycling. This is one of the major challenges in the field and these advances open up the prospect of a new generation of smaller and more efficient batteries.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS – Professor Peter Bruce can be contacted throughout Thursday 27 April 2000 – telephone 01334 463825 or via email p.g.bruce@st-andrews.ac.uk – and will be available for interviews/photographs throughout the day.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07887 650072 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: lithiumbatteries/PR 1931

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