Filling Electric Cars At The Pump

It sounds about as plausible as a nuclear powered road car hitting the market next year, yet the idea of actually being able to top up the battery pack in your EV, much like a conventional car with gasoline, perhaps isn’t as far fetched as you might think.

A startup called EOS Energy Storage is conducting research into a zinc/air hybrid flow battery system that would essentially require filling up with electrolyte to replenish energy.

Although batteries contain an anode, cathode and electrolyte to store energy, for zinc batteries, a chemical reaction is caused by the zinc ions traveling through the electrolyte from the anode to the cathode, which enables electrons to be harvested. As a result EOS says that these harvested electrons with zinc dissolved in them could be pumped out and fresh electrolyte containing zinc could be poured in, replenishing energy and thus essentially creating a “new” battery. And how would you pump out and pour in electrolyte? Well via a filling station of course.

Yes the idea remains very much theoretical and in the early stages at that, though EOS says that an EV that uses this technology could have a range of 400 miles and take just three minutes to charge. It also says that by incorporating hybrid-flow battery technology, the unit cost per vehicle could be around $25,000.

Sounds too good to be true? Perhaps, yet despite the tremendous hurdles such a concept presents, namely overcoming technological barriers and developing the required infrastructure, EOS is already taking baby steps by developing a zinc air power grid battery designed to provide low cost energy storage. This battery is said to be able to last up to 30 years and costs $160 per kwh. EOS says it’s planning to commercialize its first product by 2014 and if successful, who knows where things might go from there.


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  • bskija

    If you drive an electric car a manufacturer should revise the way the battery is charged. Your battery would not be your own. When you pull into a gas station your battery would be removed and a fully charged battery would be installed. The procedure to do this would not take more time than filling a regular vehicle with gasoline. The way a battery is installed would be accomplished by the design of the vehicle. Your original battery would not be your property. Your original battery would find its way into another car after it is fully charged. The design to accept the fully charged battery would have to be standardized by all vehicle manufacturers. There would be no need to charge your battery at home.

  • Martti Pitkanen

    Investment per swap station is about 5 million euros.
    Plus battery stock value in recharge and storage process.
    Another issue is power grid durability.
    If it was possible to recharge a battery in 20 min, it would
    be equivalent of running an electric motor of 250 kW, per battery,
    at swapping plant.

  • bskija

    Of course a lot of study would have to be performed before swapping batteries is a practical and profitable endeavor. Factories would have to be built for charging the depleted batteries on a mass production basis. The fully charged batteries would be delivered just as gasoline is delivered to gasoline stations. They would be delivered to the swapping stations as needed. To accomplish this it would take years before swapping became practical. With the coming of lithium-ion batteries for vehicles swapping stations would be ideal to circumvent these batteries short-comings.

  • bskija

    Folks: I intend to buy Toyota vehicles until my intelligence tells me there is a safer, better buy than Toyota. I will use magazines and bean counters that evaluate vehicles that are not beholden to any manufacturer of vehicles. In a hypothetical example, let’s say you own a magazine and had a million dollar contract with an automobile maker to advertise their product. Without that million dollar contract would you knock that company if it meant you would go out of business?
    BS from the media or the government concerning automobiles will go in one ear and out the other.