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MIT developed Cambridge Crude  (Source: MIT)
Battery can be recharged as quickly as pumping gas today

A group of researchers at MIT has developed a new battery system that could be a breakthrough for the storage of energy for electric vehicles. Researchers claim that recharging the new battery design can be as simple and fast as fueling up the tank on a gasoline vehicle today.
The semi-solid flow cell battery has particles suspended in a liquid carrier that is pumped thorough the system. The anode and cathode of the battery are compromised of particles suspended in a liquid electrolyte. The liquids are separately pumped though a system separated by a thin porous membrane.

Another new and interesting thing about the new battery design is that it separates the functions of storing and discharging energy. The separation of those two functions means the battery can be designed more efficiently. The team thinks the new design will allow for a significantly reduced battery size making EVs lighter and giving them longer range. Flow batteries have been around for a while, but the low energy density of the liquid typically used has meant they needed rapid pumping of fluid.

MIT’s battery design uses a liquid that oozes and can store much more energy without the need of rapid pumping. The team has dubbed the material "Cambridge Crude." The material is described as having similar properties to quicksand in so far as how quicksand can flow but is made of mostly solid particles.

Yury Gogotsi, Distinguished University Professor at Drexel University and director of Drexel’s Nanotechnology Institute, says, “The demonstration of a semi-solid lithium-ion battery is a major breakthrough that shows that slurry-type active materials can be used for storing electrical energy.” This advance, he says, “has tremendous importance for the future of energy production and storage.”

Gogotsi says that the research into finding better cathode and anode materials and electrolytes is ongoing and must be completed before practical version can be developed. He said, "I don’t see fundamental problems that cannot be addressed — those are primarily engineering issues. Of course, developing working systems that can compete with currently available batteries in terms of cost and performance may take years."

The engineering team hopes to have a prototype at the end of a three-year grant period. The grant to fund the research was given under the ARPA-E program in September 2010.





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