Purdue University researchers have showcased a new membrane-free, ‘refillable’ flow battery technology to maximise the range of EVs.
According to the researchers, the new technology – which was first tested in golf carts in 2017 – provides enough energy to run a car for about 3,000 miles.
“The jump that this technology has made in the past two years is a testament to its value in changing the way we power our vehicles,” said lead researcher and professor John Cushman.
“It’s a game-changer for the next generation of electric cars because it does not require a very costly rebuild of the electric grid throughout the U.S.”
“Instead, one could convert gas stations to pump fresh electrolyte and discard depleted electrolyte and convert oil-changing facilities to anode replacing stations.”
Cushman contends that the technology is easier and safer to use and is more environmentally friendly than existing battery systems.
According to the researchers, the system replaces the fluid in the batteries about every 300 miles through a process similar to refueling a car at a gas station.
At every 3,000 miles, the anode material is replaced, taking less time than is needed to do an oil change and costing about the same with an estimated cost of about $65.
Cushman and fellow professor Eric Nauman co-founded IFBattery Inc. to commercialize the technology.
“The battery does two things: it produces electricity and it produces hydrogen. That is important because most hydrogen-powered cars run on a 5,000 or 10,000 PSI [pounds per square inch] tank, which can be dangerous,” said Michael Dziekan, senior engineer for IFBattery.
“This system generates hydrogen as you need it, so you can safely store hydrogen at pressures of 20 or 30 PSI instead of 10,000.”
The flow battery technology was first tested in scooters and then larger off-road vehicles.
The next step will be to utilize this system for industrial equipment and then automobiles, adds Cushman.
Image and content: Lyna Landis/Purdue Research Foundation