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British battery promises power from thin air

Future cars could be powered by STAIR batteries

It's strange that although we keep hearing that futuristic batteries with amazing staying power are just around the corner, we still have to put up with a pretty disappointing reality. Still, a new development from the UK at least looks promising.

The STAIR - or St Andrews Air - battery comes from researchers at St Andrews University (you guessed that one, right?), Newcastle and Strathclyde Universities and has the potential to last ten times longer than current lithium-based cells.

Light and powerful

By using oxygen as a reagent instead of more traditional chemicals the STAIR battery is both more powerful and lighter, making it suitable for everything from portable gadgets to electric cars.

In operation, the battery draws oxygen from the air and causes it to react with porous carbon to create an electrical discharge.

Cheap to make

Lead researcher Peter Bruce explains: " Not only is this part of the process free, the carbon component is much cheaper than current technology."

The team still has two years of research to complete, but it estimates it will be another five years before we see a commercial STAIR battery.