A spinoff company from Arizona State University is planning to develop a metal-air battery which unlike lithium-ion batteries has an energy density 11 times greater, for less than one-third of the cost. Last week, the US Department of Energy awarded a $5.13-million research grant to Scottsdale, AZ-based Fluidic Energy. This company hopes that its ultra-dense energy storage technology will become reality.
Cody Friesen, the founder of Fluidic Energy and professor of materials science at Arizona State, along with other scientists have designed the new Metal-Air Ionic Liquid battery. “I’m not claiming we have it yet, but if we do succeed, it really does change the way we think about storage,” says Friesen, who was named one of Technology Review’s top innovators under 35 in 2009.
The new battery works by using ionic liquids as its electrolyte, which could help it overcome some significant problems faced by previous metal-air batteries. One advantage of ionic liquids, like those used in Fluidic Energy’s new battery, is that they don’t evaporate. Unlike water, ionic liquids conduct electricity fairly well, being much more viscous.
What are the advantages of a metal-air battery that uses ionic liquids as electrolyte?
The batteries could offer better electrochemical stability, which means they could use materials that have a greater energy density than zinc. It can function for a longer period time since its electrolyte doesn’t evaporate.
Cody Friesen and his researchers hope to achieve energy densities of anywhere from 900 to 1,600 watt-hours per kilogram in the DOE-funded project. According to Friesen, if this thing will happen, the density could lead to electric cars that could travel 400 to 500 miles on a single charge.