Battery Goo Could Power the Cars of the Future

Battery Goo Could Power the Cars of the Future

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Pumps may still have a future in motoring, but liquids made of long dead sea creatures may not.

A new project from MIT could be a significant step in overcoming one of the biggest problems with electric cars: namely, how to get around lengthy recharge times. The researchers at MIT have come up with an electricity-bearing goo, which motorists would be able to pump into their cars like gasoline.

The goo is a combination of two existing technologies: lithium ion batteries, which can be found in most cell phones and other small devices, and aqueous-flow batteries which use fluids to store electricity. The problem with existing flow batteries is that the amount of power that they could hold was very low, but using the liquid to suspend the solid battery material in, the new technology can store a lot more power.

The semi-solid flow cell, which is the technology's proper name, has a number of advantages. Firstly, pumping in new fuel would not be as time consuming as battery exchanges or recharge stations, and secondly, by removing the storage function from the battery itself, it allows the complete system to be more efficiently - and more cheaply - designed. Best of all, "Cambridge Crude" is not locked in to any particular formulation, so when a more efficient design comes along, people will be able to start using it straight away.

The technology also has lots of application outside the automotive industry, as it can be cheaply scaled up, giving it a lot of potential for larger scale uses, such as making intermittent power sources like solar and wind energy more viable solutions to burning fossil fuels. It's still going to be a while before the commercial version of the technology is ready, but this could be an important step to a much cleaner future.

Source: MIT via Dvice

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That's sweet!
I wonder how many charge/recharge cycles the liquid can handle, and if there's any way to increase the capacitance so that they can remove the solid battery part.

One small step for batteries. One giant step for mankind.

Awwww... i was hoping for Anti-Matter cars :(

On a serious note this is quite awesome, my guess is we will see this in about 3-4 years.

Except for the fact that electricity still needs to be generated, so someone's got to be burning something, somewhere in order to charge up the goo in those tanks of battery fluid. Still, at least it does make electric cars a bit more viable, and certainly we aren't nailed down to fossil fuels for making that electric current dance.

arc1991:
Awwww... i was hoping for Anti-Matter cars :(

On a serious note this is quite awesome, my guess is we will see this in about 3-4 years.

I don't want my car to explode just because someone looks at me funny....

OT: Sounds good I wonder how long it will take to see common use if it works as it says on a large scale.

NickCaligo42:
Except for the fact that electricity still needs to be generated, so someone's got to be burning something, somewhere in order to charge up the goo in those tanks of battery fluid. Still, at least it does make electric cars a bit more viable, and certainly we aren't nailed down to fossil fuels for making that electric current dance.

Actually if it stores energy like it says it makes renewable energy especially wind much more viable as the main problem with wind is that you might have too much energy one day and too little the next.

So like, Jam the car full of it and then... cars that can bleed...

OOOOHHH!

I love reading these news stories on the Escapist, because they make me so glad that I'm living in the future.

Today, good powered cars, tomorrow... other cool future toys =D

Glademaster:

arc1991:
Awwww... i was hoping for Anti-Matter cars :(

On a serious note this is quite awesome, my guess is we will see this in about 3-4 years.

I don't want my car to explode just because someone looks at me funny....

OT: Sounds good I wonder how long it will take to see common use if it works as it says on a large scale.

NickCaligo42:
Except for the fact that electricity still needs to be generated, so someone's got to be burning something, somewhere in order to charge up the goo in those tanks of battery fluid. Still, at least it does make electric cars a bit more viable, and certainly we aren't nailed down to fossil fuels for making that electric current dance.

Actually if it stores energy like it says it makes renewable energy especially wind much more viable as the main problem with wind is that you might have too much energy one day and too little the next.

I think we should be doing more with Tidal energy, as in, generators that use the flow-in-flow-out nature of the tide to generate electricity, it's constant, it's insanely powerful, and it's unlimited.

I find this news shocking. Who holds the power over this invention? I'm driven to distraction.

Ok, done now.

NickCaligo42:
Except for the fact that electricity still needs to be generated, so someone's got to be burning something, somewhere in order to charge up the goo in those tanks of battery fluid. Still, at least it does make electric cars a bit more viable, and certainly we aren't nailed down to fossil fuels for making that electric current dance.

Sure, but at least some of that power will then come from wind/solar/hydro/tidal/fat guy on a treadmill power rather than burning fossilized dinosaur.

One big advantage of electric cars is that hopefully they will be charging at night when we already have lots of power available and often going to waste.

i don't get it
if we pump that stuff into the cars where does the "empty" fluid go?

vivster:
i don't get it
if we pump that stuff into the cars where does the "empty" fluid go?

Why, we'll recycle it of course!
I'm thinking as a replacement for the chemicals currently being used for lethal injections. Then the liberals will be happy, the conservatives will be happy, everyone will be happy!

vivster:
i don't get it
if we pump that stuff into the cars where does the "empty" fluid go?

That's what I was wondering. Why do we need to pump more goo into our "gas" tanks? Does it burn up? Do we have to drain it out regularly?

RECHARGEABLE PETROL!

That's like one of those genius ideas that only seems utterly freakin obvious after someone actually comes up with it...

vivster:
i don't get it
if we pump that stuff into the cars where does the "empty" fluid go?

I thought as you pump it in, through a second nozzle you pumped the used material out of a seperate tank back into the stations supply to be recharged. Surely you'd return it somehow. However like much charge holding materials, won't it steadily become less effective at retaining a charge? Doesn't that mean it'd be incredibly difficult to ascertain what to charge if old material is mixed with new because you might never get the same charge from the same pump.

Problematic...

Additionally as someone in the Facebook comments noted, where do we get all the Lithium. It's a bit sparse on the ground on earth, compared to rest of the universe where it's the most common element in existance.

Sounds neat, but the amount of lithium required to power all the world's cars might well put a significant strain on the lithium supplies. Lithium still has to be mined, and that takes energy and creates waste. While I think battery operated cars are part of the solution, I just hope we take into account all the other factors that will come into play when we eventually switch over.

Let's also hope that if we switch over to rechargeable cars, we stop using things like coal and natural gas as a power source to charge this goo. Otherwise we're just displacing the problem.

danpascooch:

Glademaster:

arc1991:
Awwww... i was hoping for Anti-Matter cars :(

On a serious note this is quite awesome, my guess is we will see this in about 3-4 years.

I don't want my car to explode just because someone looks at me funny....

OT: Sounds good I wonder how long it will take to see common use if it works as it says on a large scale.

NickCaligo42:
Except for the fact that electricity still needs to be generated, so someone's got to be burning something, somewhere in order to charge up the goo in those tanks of battery fluid. Still, at least it does make electric cars a bit more viable, and certainly we aren't nailed down to fossil fuels for making that electric current dance.

Actually if it stores energy like it says it makes renewable energy especially wind much more viable as the main problem with wind is that you might have too much energy one day and too little the next.

I think we should be doing more with Tidal energy, as in, generators that use the flow-in-flow-out nature of the tide to generate electricity, it's constant, it's insanely powerful, and it's unlimited.

Yes Tidal will be better when sort it out and make it viable but until then it gives us another option to use in the mean time.

And how long until one of the major gasoline corps buy the rights for this new, grand idea and buries it, like they have in the past?

Realitycrash:
And how long until one of the major gasoline corps buy the rights for this new, grand idea and buries it, like they have in the past?

I don't think that will happen: information is just too widely available these days-- there's no way they could just "hide it away", and any corporation that tried to 'kill' it would suffer a major PR black eye.

OT: this is really interesting-- as other posters mentioned, I'd like to to see numbers in terms of materials needed, sustainability, and expected reuse life instead of just a press release about how great this invention is...

Wait... we can effectively 'store' electricity now? This is massive

Oh my god portal 2 was right!

The future of technology lies in various goos!

Aside from this news being a-gorram-mazing, am I the only one who thinks that propelling the charged goo could take the first step towards guns that fire shurikens and lightning? I mean, scientific escalation of warfare and weaponry is a ticket to Armageddon and all that, but shurikens and lightning is one damn cool way to escalate warfare and weaponry to the point of armageddon.

And for once, I really want to find some published papers to look deeper into some tech news posted here.

Even if this ends up not being very economical for use in transportation, it could be a huge boon for the alternative energy industry. Some of the biggest problems with green energy is the unreliable generation part of it. If this could be used as an effective mass storage method, it could possibly be good enough even for five-minute demand and allow green sources to keep some gas turbines spun down--or even offline completely for most of the day.

I don't understand something. You mention that electric car owners can just "Fill up" their tanks with the goop. But the car isn't "burning" it, so where is the old goop going?

Is it just being discharged? In that case, would I have to first go to a gas station, empty out my gas tank (in a fancy recycle bin, I guess), THEN fill 'er up?

So after some additional reading of the MIT release:

A) It's a DARPA-funded project and already licensed to a company partially run by the lead researcher and with 16 mil in capital investment. So... would be a little hard for an energy company to buy up and sit on it at this point.

B) It's not just one goop, it's two. It's sort of like a fuel cell, really: the two fluids flow past each other and transfer the electrons through a membrane. So you could imagine a system working where you have two tanks instead of one for the storage goo. You fill the 'in' tank, and as it gets pushed through the battery it fills a 'spent' tank. Go to a station, pump in some more goo, and just replace the spent tank with an empty one, and the station recharges the spent goo to go in to another vehicle.

They also are claiming ten times the energy density of a current lithium ion battery, so not only should it have no problems running en electric vehicle, but the pumping speed wouldn't actually have to be that fast. They're also expecting to be able to find different materials that could store energy more densely than the current lithium slurry, too.

NezumiiroKitsune:

vivster:
i don't get it
if we pump that stuff into the cars where does the "empty" fluid go?

I thought as you pump it in, through a second nozzle you pumped the used material out of a seperate tank back into the stations supply to be recharged. Surely you'd return it somehow. However like much charge holding materials, won't it steadily become less effective at retaining a charge? Doesn't that mean it'd be incredibly difficult to ascertain what to charge if old material is mixed with new because you might never get the same charge from the same pump.

Problematic...

Additionally as someone in the Facebook comments noted, where do we get all the Lithium. It's a bit sparse on the ground on earth, compared to rest of the universe where it's the most common element in existance.

what we need is just better battery technology
i still can't believe that we can't even power a laptop (the most used thing on earth) for a whole day
we just need some breakthrough that raises the capacity at least tenfold
that's where our research money should be going into
like some clever way to recycle heat

 

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