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

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration 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.