Before we go on take a deep breath because this is where things get difficult. This ‘flow’ battery is basically a hybrid energy system that will release power to the battery on demand and thus keeping the battery charged as you drive.
According to their study, a concentrated liquid containing nano-molecules can store 10 times more energy than when in a solid state. This presents two clear benefits to a driver. Electric cars would no longer need hours to charge with the material being a pumpable liquid. It means electric car batteries can be charged in the same time it would take to fill up a petrol car.
How it works
Think of the battery in the car as a reservoir for fuel like the fuel tank in your standard car. When a car needs to be charged the liquid in the battery can be simply pumped out of the vehicle and exchanges for this charged liquid, meaning that it is a very simple process and similar to how we fuel our cars at the petrol station now. Apart from the giving back dead fuel of course.
As electric cars by their very nature have been created to save the environment it wouldn’t be good enough to waste the old battery fluid I hear you ask. Of course, those clever Scots have the solution. The old battery fluid is basically recharged and made ready for another car. Simples.
Professor Leroy Cronin, the University of Glasgow’s Regius Chair of Chemistry lead the team who made the discovery had this to say “Our approach will provide a new route to do this electrochemically and could even have application in electric cars where batteries can still take hours to recharge and have limited capacity,”.
While it is becoming quicker and easier to charge an electric car the simple truth is that it can still take several hours to fully recharge a vehicle with a range of only a few hundred miles.
Driving into the future
Over the last year or so there has been a big push to install these ultra fast charging stations around the country but the team behind the flow battery believe that their liquid battery could resolve this problem. Oh, and it will massively drive down the cost of the battery cells meaning cheaper electric cars for everyone.
But that’s not all! Because this is a hybrid system the liquid can be used for both electric cars and hydrogen cars which turn the substance back into electricity.
“For future renewables to be effective, high capacity and flexible energy storage systems are needed to smooth out the peaks and troughs in supply,” said Professor Cronin.
Just don’t forget to pick up the right pump, we can only imagine sticking battery fluid into a diesel engine would be far worse than the commonly heard “I put unleaded into the tank and now the engine is goosed” excuse.