We’re on the verge of a power revolution as a team of researchers has brought instant recharging technology closer to the reality. Developed by Purdue researchers, the technology could provide an “instantly rechargeable” method that is safe, affordable and environmentally friendly for recharging electric and hybrid vehicle batteries through a quick and easy process similar to refueling a car at a gas station.
The innovation could expedite the adoption of electric and hybrid vehicles by eliminating the time needed to stop and re-charge a conventional electric car’s battery and dramatically reducing the need for new infrastructure to support recharging stations. Team leader John Cushman co-founded Ifbattery LLC (IF-battery) to further develop and commercialize the technology. Cushman noted that electric and hybrid vehicle sales are growing worldwide and the popularity of companies like Tesla is incredible, but there continue to be strong challenges for industry and consumers of electric or hybrid cars. “The biggest challenge for the industry is to extend the life of a battery’s charge and the infrastructure needed to actually charge the vehicle. The greatest hurdle for drivers is the time commitment to keeping their cars fully charged,” he added.
Current electric cars need convenient locations built for charging ports. “Designing and building enough of these recharging stations requires massive infrastructure development, which means the energy distribution and storage system is being rebuilt at tremendous cost to accommodate the need for continual local battery recharge,” said Eric Nauman, co-founder of Ifbattery. “Ifbattery is developing an energy storage system that would enable drivers to fill up their electric or hybrid vehicles with fluid electrolytes to re-energize spent battery fluids much like refueling their gas tanks.” The spent battery fluids or electrolyte could be collected and taken to a solar farm, wind turbine installation or hydroelectric plant for re-charging.
“Instead of refining petroleum, the refiners would reprocess spent electrolytes and instead of dispensing gas, the fuelling stations would dispense a water and ethanol or methanol solution as fluid electrolytes to power vehicles,” Cushman said. “Users would be able to drop off the spent electrolytes at gas stations, which would then be sent in bulk to solar farms, wind turbine installations or hydroelectric plants for reconstitution or re-charging into the viable electrolyte and reused many times. It is believed that our technology could be nearly ‘drop-in’ ready for most of the underground piping system, rail and truck delivery system, gas stations and refineries.”
Mike Mueterthies, the third co-founder of Ifbattery, said the flow battery system makes the Ifbattery system unique. “Other flow batteries exist, but we are the first to remove membranes which reduce costs and extends battery life,” Mueterthies said. If battery’s membrane-free battery demonstrates other benefits as well.”Membrane fouling can limit the number of recharge cycles and is a known contributor to many battery fires,” Cushman said. “Ifbattery’s components are safe enough to be stored in a family home, are stable enough to meet major production and distribution requirements and are cost effective.”The study has been presented at the recent International Society for Porous Media 9th International Conference in Rotterdam, Netherlands.