A Colorado-based startup company, Boulder Ionics, has invented a liquid electrolyte based on molten salts that can revolutionize the entire energy storage industry. For example, it could replace a starter car battery with one the size of a flashlight. How about that?
The new ionic liquid can operate at higher voltages and temperatures, doesn’t ignite and it also doesn’t evaporate – three of the main hurdles that lithium ion battery approaches have suffered so far. Metal-air batteries, for instance, will be a good candidate for the new electrolyte, because of the contact the electrolyte has with air.
But Jerry Martin’s company didn’t invent molten salts. The key word to the foreseen success here is “cost reduction.” Boulder Ionics is able to reduce the molten salts’ manufacturing process at a price in such an extent that it convinced venture capitalists to invest as much as $4.3 million in it, only this year.
The new molten salts manufacturing process is able to make the ionic liquid electrolyte in six minutes, compared to three days, and make use of reduced manufacturing space instead of an entire chemical factory.
All in all, molten salts could make better lithium ion batteries, better supercapacitors (used in electric buses and possibly in electric cars, but the price is too high at the moment), and could also make room for better batteries in the grid energy storage industry. With all of these advantages, it looks like it’s only a matter of time until we see the technology applied everywhere, from mobile phones to power plants.