MIT professor and founder of 24M Technologies, Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang, says he has developed a new flow battery that uses a thick, black liquid nicknamed “Cambridge Crude.” The gooey black substance consists of charged nanoparticles suspended in a solution that can be pumped into a two tank system, separating positive and negative charged particles. The solution is then reintroduced through a special membrane, and the result is a clean electric power.
24M says the technology will be a 10-fold improvement in energy density compared to current liquid flow batteries, and cost less to manufacture than conventional lithium ion batteries. The potential for this technology includes the possibility for electric cars in the future to be refueled like today’s gasoline-powered vehicles. Electric vehicles could be recharged by pumping out the discharged solution and reintroducing fresh, charged “Cambridge Crude.” The discharged solution could then be recharged at the station and redistributed later.
The problem many experts levy against available electric vehicles is the limited traveling distance of electric vehicles, most traveling just 100 miles per charge. Traditionally, the longer charge meant a bigger battery, an unreasonable compromise as moving a heavier weight would demand more power. Batteries that use “Cambridge Crude”, however, typically travel three times the distance of a typical lithium-ion battery, at less weight, and half the cost.
Another problem of today’s electric vehicles is charging time. Even the most advanced electric cars require at least 20 minutes to fully recharge. This new battery solves that by using a system that just requires adding more fuel. This will allow existing infrastructure, like gas stations, to remain relevant. A familiar process and integration of existing infrastructure could result in wider acceptance of the technology.
If “Cambridge Crude” can be successfully commercialized, it would result in very lucrative new technology.