If you were given the Jeopardy!! category "things that breathe," chances are your answer might be, "What are living creatures?" Chances are also high that your answer would not be, "What is a battery?" You'd be wrong.
IBM has designed a battery that creates power by taking in and later expelling oxygen. The company thinks it can create a "breathing" car battery that can last 500 miles by utilizing this technology. Though the predicted date of the battery actually being placed in cars is in 2020, still about eight years off.
It was created through the "Battery 500" project, an attempt to build a battery that would completely power a car for 500 miles.
The engine works by having oxygen flow into its main cell and fills tiny spaces that are an angstrom large. That's .00000000001 meters. In these spaces, it reacts with lithium ions on the battery's cathode, which turns the ions into lithium peroxide that releases electrons.
In layman's terms: the air containing oxygen flows in, reacts with lithium and turns into electricity.
Once saturated with oxygen, the battery loses its charge and has to be attached to a power source to recharge, during which it releases the oxygen and turns the lithium peroxide back to lithium ions.
One the biggest obstacles with technology like this is the weight of the battery: that often offsets the power it generates, hence the 2020 anticipation date.
As companies do everything they can to move from fuel-based technology, the future of automobiles remains a constantly changing landscape.