While battery technology overall has remained relatively stagnant over the past few years, several recent breakthroughs have many filled with anticipation of new batteries that are cleaner, quicker, and more powerful than the batteries currently available on the market.
The latest in potential breakthroughs comes from Scottsdale, AZ; where the U.S. Department of Energy-funded company Fluidic Energy is working toward development of a metal-air battery that relies on ionic liquids as its electrolyte. As noted by Seth Kaufman on MIT Tech Review, Fluidic Energy is aiming to build a Metal-Air Ionic Liquid battery that has up to 11 times the energy density of the top lithium-ion technologies for less than one-third the cost.
The key, according to the founder of Fluidic Energy and professor of materials science at Arizona State University Cody Friesen, is in the density of the ionic liquids that would power these revolutionary batteries. “These liquids have electrochemical stability windows of up to five volts, so it allows you to go to much more energy-dense metals than zinc,” says Friesen.
“They’re wonder fluids. They’re remarkable. If you look at these liquids in a bottle, they look like water, except they’re viscous. They’re not volatile, they don’t evaporate, they’re physically stable and they conduct electricity fairly well.” – John Wilkes, an ionic liquids expert who heads the academy’s chemistry department
So what does this all mean? Well if the development of ionic batteries goes as planned, we could potentially see an increase in battery life by up to 6 times. How does 24 hours of uninterrupted use of a laptop sound?
As with any new technology, the optimism of those who are developing it remains bridled. “I’m not claiming we have it yet, but if we do succeed, it really does change the way we think about storage,” says Friesen. It’s about taking everything we’ve done over the last four years and leveraging that work into a battery that looks and feels just like a lithium battery, but has energy densities far beyond that.”