Skip to Content

Flow Batteries For Fast Electric Car Charging

New batteries could make recharging EVs much faster.
October 15, 2009

Electric vehicles can take hours to recharge, making cross-country road trips a challenge. But researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology in Germany say they’ve got a potential solution: flow batteries.

This type of battery uses two electrolytes rather than the solid electrodes used in lithium ion batteries. Recharging them is as fast as pumping out depleted electrolytes and replacing them with fresh ones–it wouldn’t take longer than refilling a gas tank. One of the problems with flow batteries, though, has been that they only store about a quarter of the energy as lithium ion batteries–you’d have to recharge a lot, making them impractical. The Fraunhofer researchers say they’ve improved the energy storage to match lithium ion batteries–still not as good as with gasoline, but a great improvement. Some lithium ion EVs get over 200 miles on a charge.

But here’s the catch: one of the reasons hydrogen fuel cell vehicles have come under fire recently is that you need to install a large infrastructure for distributing and dispensing hydrogen. A flow battery system would have a similar problem. You’d need to install special refueling stations where the spend electrolytes can be recharged and dispensed.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station
Workers disinfect the street outside Shijiazhuang Railway Station

Why China is still obsessed with disinfecting everything

Most public health bodies dealing with covid have long since moved on from the idea of surface transmission. China’s didn’t—and that helps it control the narrative about the disease’s origins and danger.

crypto winter concept
crypto winter concept

Crypto is weathering a bitter storm. Some still hold on for dear life.

When a cryptocurrency’s value is theoretical, what happens if people quit believing?

individual aging affects covid outcomes concept
individual aging affects covid outcomes concept

Anti-aging drugs are being tested as a way to treat covid

Drugs that rejuvenate our immune systems and make us biologically younger could help protect us from the disease’s worst effects.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose WongIllustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.