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Metal Air Batteries From Fluidic Energy Help EVs and the Grid


screen-shot-2013-02-28-at-7-51-17-pmGrid-scale metal air batteries were showcased at the ARPA-E Summit that took place this week by Fluidic Energy, a small startup in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The invention was developed by Professor Cody Friesen from Arizona State University, who is also a founder of Fluidic Energy. The batteries are already installed and have been tested in areas with unreliable grid. These batteries have the potential to become the needed alternative to diesel generators and lead acid batteries in many U.S. states, according to Friesen.

Unlike regular batteries, the metal for the anode is zinc, while the cathode is air drawn from the environment and the electrolyte between the two is liquid. The unusual cathode makes the batteries cheap and easy to maintain. In addition, the electrolyte consists of ionic liquid, or liquid salt, which does not allow evaporation to take place when the voltage increases.

The company also developed a metal electrode architecture. This technology prevents batteries from being damaged by the formation of the so-called dendrites. These usually appear because of uneven plating of the metal across the batteries.

A metal air rechargeable battery made from both of these elements put together, is expected to have high energy density. If used in electric cars, this battery has the potential to provide much cheaper power. According to Friesen, this invention is the first of its kind on the market.

The technology has brought to Fluidic the incredible $5.13 million grant from the Department of Energy, and a $3 million grant from ARPA-E. These amounts only add to the already received grants in the past, which add up to almost $35 million.

Similar technologies are being developed by the giant in the industry IBM. However, many are sceptical and claim that the technology is overrated.

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