5 Battery Breakthroughs that Could One Day Power Electric Cars

Zinc-Air Battery Could Hold 300% More Energy Than Lithium-Ion

ReVolt Technology, a company based in Staefa, Switzerland, claims that its Zinc-air battery can "store three times the energy of lithium ion batteries, by volume, while costing only half as much," and unlike other existing air batteries, this one would be rechargeable.

For electric vehicles, ReVolt is developing a novel battery structure that resembles that of a fuel cell. Its first batteries use two flat electrodes, which are comparable in size. In the new batteries, one electrode will be a liquid--a zinc slurry. The air electrodes will be in the form of tubes. To generate electricity, the zinc slurry, which is stored in one compartment in the battery, is pumped through the tubes where it's oxidized, forming zinc oxide and releasing electrons. The zinc oxide then accumulates in another compartment in the battery. During recharging, the zinc oxide flows back through the air electrode, where it releases the oxygen, forming zinc again.

More details: Very Promising! Zinc-Air Battery Could Hold 300% More Energy Than Lithium-Ion

Photo: EPSRC

Lithium-Air Battery

The University of St Andrews's researchers created a battery design that replaces the lithium cobalt oxide electrode usually found in li-ion batteries with a porous carbon electrode and allows Li+ and e- in the cell to react with oxygen from the air. This could allow up an increase in storage capacity by up to 10x. Read on for more details.

Here's the clever part: "Improved capacity is thanks to the addition of a component that uses oxygen drawn from the air during discharge, replacing one chemical constituent used in rechargeable batteries today. Not having to carry the chemicals around in the battery offers more energy for the same size battery. Reducing the size and weight of batteries with the necessary charge capacity has been a long-running battle for developers of electric cars."

More details: Lithium-Air Battery Could Have Up to 10x Storage Capacity of Current Lithium-Ion Tech
From the Lab to the Marketplace
If only one of these technologies can be commercialized during the next few years (and then further improved through incremental refinements), we'll see electric cars become a lot more competitive when it comes to price and range. Other challenges will be left, and it won't solve everything. But it certainly would be better than what we have now.

With all these batteries and EVs in the pipeline, it's no wonder that the market for lithium-ion batteries for EVs is projected to grow rapidly in the next five years.

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Tags: Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles | Transportation


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