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
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."
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
quote: 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.