One of the biggest hurdles towards the mainstream acceptance of electric cars is the lengthy period of time, usually around six to eight hours, that it takes to top up their batteries. Compare this to filling up a gasoline or diesel powered car, where topping up a tank takes only a matter of minutes.
However, imagine a world where you could ‘refuel’ an electric car’s batteries in the same manner as you would a gas powered car. As strange as it sounds, researchers at the illustrious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are actually working on just such a technology although it is at the very early stages.
The technology consists of a special liquid in which the battery’s active components--the positive and negative electrodes, or cathodes and anodes--are composed of small particles suspended in the liquid. The particles can then be pumped through different systems separated by a filter as needed, thus separating the two functions of the battery--storing energy until it is needed, and discharging that energy when it needs to be used.
This also means that batteries could be refueled, with drivers of electric cars potentially pulling up to a special station, pumping out the used liquid and filling their cars up with fully charged stuff. Another possibility is that cars would feature interchangeable battery ‘tanks’ that can be swapped when their charge gets low.
The special liquid, seen in the image above, has been nicknamed ‘Cambridge crude’ and is cheaper to produce than current lithium-ion batteries. This means that the batteries could be scaled up to large sizes at relatively low cost.
The best part is that the technology has already been licensed out to a company by the name of 24M Technologies, which has already raised more than $16 million in funding and is working closely with the MIT researchers, some of whom are co-founders, to commercialize it.