Reinventing rechargeable batteries

June 15, 2011 - via Nanowerk News

(Nanowerk News) University of Leicester researchers are spearheading the development of a novel type of sustainable zinc-based rechargeable battery for electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid EVs. The €3.5 million research project, PolyZion, is funded under the EU Seventh Framework Programme and combines world-class research organisations in investigating ionic liquids, conducting plastics, zinc deposition, pulse charging and batteries.

At present, commonly used lead acid, nickel metal hydride or lithium ion rechargeable batteries in electric vehicles have technological, cost and environmental limitations, in addition to short circuiting issues. With predictions that the rapid growth of the global market for EV and hybrid EVs is expected to top $2 billion by 2015 there is good promise for new battery technologies.

A postgraduate researcher with the Department of Chemistry, Claire Fullarton is focused on the design, production and properties of a new type of prototype battery, which would offer an improved performance, safety and environmental sustainability.

"This research involves the development of a new class of fast rechargeable batteries based on a zinc-plastic system incorporating a novel, inexpensive, environmentally sustainable solvent," said Miss Fullarton. "This approach is necessitated by the problems associated with petrol and diesel powered vehicles, such as environmental impact, rising fuel prices, the looming shortage of oil and the limitations of batteries available for electric vehicles."

The project combines a new low-cost, air and moisture insensitive and environmentally sustainable class of electrolytes (ionic liquids) together with nano-structured zinc deposits and novel ultra-fast charging conducting polymers.

Several small and medium enterprise partners collaborate in the project with expertise in technology development and specialised materials, as well as large industrial partners with industrial experience of battery manufacture and state-of-the-art testing facilities. The consortium also includes two organisations with world-class research expertise from an 'Emerging Economy' (Russia) and a 'High Income' country outside the EU (Canada).

External link: http://www.nanowerk.com/news/newsid=21749.php

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