One (of many) complaints against electric cars is that they take too long to “fill up” with electrons. But a group of MIT students have developed a semi-solid electron-laden “fuel” that could completely change how we power EV’s.
Forgoing the traditional route of storing electrons in either nickel or lithium-ion, the MIT students have figured out a way to store electricity in semi-solid flow cells. Called “Cambridge Crude,” the charged particles are stored in an electrolyte gel that can be removed and refilled when drained, not unlike how we currently fill our cars with gasoline. The gel would move between a charging area, and dispensing area, sending electrons straight to the drivetrain. Perhaps even more importantly though, this technology can (supposedly) store 10x more electricity, at half the price of current conventional battery technology.
Talk about a game changer. If this technology pans out, it could single-handedly eliminate all the barriers facing EV’s right now, including infrastructure, charging, battery capacity and cost. The gel supposedly can also be charged normally, via a plug-in system, adding in even more versatility. Of course, I write about great ideas and technology every day, but relatively few ideas actually pan out. Yet there seems like so much potential in this out-there idea.
Does this electrolyte-laden gel have what it takes to go mainstream? Or is it just another great idea that will remain only a great idea? We’ll find out in 18 months, as the research team will work to build a working prototype by the end of 2012…just in time for the end of the world.
Source: The Atlantic Wire | Image: Nicole Werner
Chris DeMorro is a writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs. You can read about his slow descent into madness at Sublime Burnout or follow his non-nonsensical ramblings on Twitter @harshcougar.