Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are developing a new battery technology that they say would significantly reduce the size of electric car battery systems and potentially double the range of electric vehicles. The technology uses a type of semi-solid flow cell system, in which the battery electrodes take the form of tiny particles suspended in liquid electrolyte, a mixture nicknamed “Cambridge crude.” Two streams of that slurry-like compound — one positively charged, the other negatively charged — are then pumped through the system, causing the exchange of lithium ions across a permeable membrane that triggers an external current. Critically, while most standard battery systems consist largely of materials that provide structural support but no power, researchers say this system puts more of the materials to work. Lead researcher Yet-Ming Chiang says the power-per-unit potential will be 10 times greater than conventional designs. Also, drivers looking to recharge their batteries would have the option of replacing spent slurry or re-charging the slurry with an electric current.
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