In the journal Energy and Environmental Science, Ohio State University engineers describe the “smart” membrane that they hope will enable the development of a new category of fast-charging and powerful batteries called “redox transistor batteries” for automobiles that will travel farther on a single charge.
Along the way, they analyzed the performance of the leading hybrid and electric car batteries, and discovered something that, to their knowledge, has never before been stated outright. The best eco-car makers appear to have hit a performance limit, and that limit is 0.4 miles – less than half a mile of driving – per minute of charging.
Put another way, today’s very best eco-friendly cars can travel around 200 miles after an 8-hour charge, while gas-powered cars can cover the same distance after only one minute spent at the pump. The researchers hope their new technology can boost electric car batteries to provide up to tens of miles per minute of charge.
The university will license the technology to industry for further development.
The same technology could prevent self-discharge in supercapacitors, which give high power and rapid recharge capability to some electric cars, buses and light rail transit systems.
While the researchers have proven that the membrane works with conventional batteries they want to use it as the basis of a new type of battery. They are working to combine a so-called redox flow battery, in which an electrolyte is pumped from the anode to the cathode to generate power, with their smart membrane to create the so-called “redox transistor battery.”