Flow Batteries for Cars

IIT-Argonne Nanoelectrofuel Flow Battery

Imagine pulling up to a “gas station” and, instead of gas, you buy fresh electrolytes for your EV’s batteries! Purdue University researchers have developed a concept for using the existing gas station infrastructure, to power EVs. And instead of charging solid-state batteries, the use of flow batteries adds a new dimension to the experience.

Let’s back up a bit. Flow batteries are a kind of battery that use two tanks and that flow electrolytes from one tank to the other. They are generally bulky and relatively low-tech. The Purdue model swaps electrolytes out of cars and buses… quickly and efficiently. The spent electrolytes are then trucked off to a solar or wind far for recharging.

The idea is elegant, even if the power density may plague its actual use. (To get significant range, you might need a trailer towing large tanks of electrolytes!) The goal is to create an instant-recharge system. The Purdue system has the potential to make recharging an EV as quick and easy as refueling at a conventional gas station.