The flow-battery concept isn’t new. The possibility of its use in electric vehicles (EVs) is. The flow battery is “recharged” when you replace liquid electrolytes that are spent after they generate energy.
John Cushman, who is a Purdue University professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary science, was a part of a team of researchers who investigated the technology’s applicability to automobiles. He tells Consumers Digest that a gasoline-station-type approach is possible for an EV that would be powered by a flow battery: You fill it up with new electrolytes after you discard the spent ones.
“What’s novel about what we’re doing is the amount of energy we can get per amount of mass of electrolyte, which makes it practical for vehicles,” Cushman tells us.
Cushman says flow batteries for EVs will be inexpensive, because the components that are used in a flow battery are available in bulk.
Sam Abuelsamid, who is a senior analyst at Navigant Research, says the big question is whether the process to manufacture the battery can be scaled for mass production—a problem that hasn’t been overcome in regard to numerous battery-design breakthroughs over the years.
Cushman says the battery design has the potential to power a vehicle so it can travel up to 250 miles before you have to recharge it.