New liquid battery could mean electric car refuelling, petrol-style

Batteries could be refilled with 'Cambridge Crude' liquid

By Will Dron on June 14, 2011 8:40 PM

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston have created a new type of ‘liquid-flow’ battery that could make it possible to refuel electric vehicles in minutes, in the same way as petrol or diesel cars.

Liquid flow batteries contain a gooey liquid instead of traditional solid materials. The concept has been around for a while, but the MIT team’s ‘Cambridge Crude’ liquid offers a 10-fold improvement on what has come before. The result is a battery that is more efficient, lighter and smaller than the lithium ion packs used currently.

“Such a system would permit the possibility of simply ‘refuelling’ the battery by pumping out the liquid slurry and pumping in a fresh, fully charged replacement, or by swapping out the tanks like tires at a pit stop, while still preserving the option of simply recharging the existing material when time permits,” said a statement from MIT.

The MIT news follows another significant breakthrough at the University of Illinois, where researchers have been working on a silica mesh battery that takes just minutes to recharge. Meanwhile Lithium Air and ‘super capacitor’ technologies also offer great possibilities for powering electric vehicles of the future.

‘Cambridge Crude’, along with the other energy storage systems being developed, won’t be available to the public any time soon. However, the long-term benefits this kind of research will reap are significant.