With consumers used to the convenience of refueling their vehicle at the gas station in a few minutes, one of the biggest disadvantages of electric vehicles is the time it takes to recharge their batteries. Now, by separating the energy storage and energy discharging functions of the battery into separate physical structures, researchers at MIT have achieved a breakthrough that could allow EVs to be recharged in the same time it takes to refuel a conventional car. The technology could also provide an inexpensive alternative for energy storage for intermittent, renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
The new battery employs an architecture known as a “semi-solid flow cell,” which sees the battery’s positive and negative electrodes (cathodes and anodes) made up of solid particles suspended in a liquid electrolyte. These oppositely charged particles are pumped through systems separated by a filter, such as a thin porous membrane.
The MIT researchers say that by separating the energy storage and energy discharge functions of the battery into separate physical structures allows them to design more efficient batteries. This should allow for a complete battery system – including all its structural support and connectors – that is half the size and cost of existing rechargeable batteries.