The City University of New York (CUNY), Energy Institute, developed a new highly efficient zinc-manganese rechargeable battery. The invention is funded by the Energy Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E), and it will be manufactured in a new facility owned by the Urban Electric Power (UEP) company in the Manhattanville Factory District.
Since its beginning, the project received quite a substantial amount of funds. To build the new factory, UEP was granted $2 million, partly received in state economic development resources and partly in tax credits. In addition to this, ARPA-E gave another $3 million to CUNY, to develop the battery technology, so it must really be a winner.
The main aim of the project was to develop a battery out of cheap, readily available and non-toxic elements. The makers bid on zinc and manganese, as these are commonly found in conventional batteries, they are recyclable and their cost is significantly low. Of course, to be able to use them in rechargeable devices, the team had to overcome limitations such as dendrites formation and drop in efficiency during charging and recharging.
CUNY claims that their prototypes from last year are 100% successful in tackling both challenges. Their invention consists of 36 interconnected flow-assisted cells, which ultimately should be competitive with lithium-ion batteries in terms of life-span, and much more environmentally friendly than nickel-cadmium batteries, at a much lower cost.
The hopes are pretty high. UEP is a company with quite a substantial history of making eco-friendly batteries, with prototypes developed by CUNY and funded by ARPA-E. The competition is quite hard, as many giants in the battery manufacturing business, such as Zinc Air, Inc, are also using zinc to improve the existing battery systems.
UEP, however, are convinced that their technology is breakthrough. The applications of the new batteries will be many, so as the benefits. The technology could reduce the greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, if used as part of the regenerative breaking systems, improve gas mileage and of course be used as an energy storage in renewable energy farms.