PolyPlus Batteries Could Someday Power 500 Miles Electric Car

David Herron looks at California company developing both lithium-air and lithium-water batteries with 10,000 watt hours per kilogram energy density.

Published: 19-Feb-2012

Supposedly the achilles heel of electric cars is the range, and even though electric car owners know range anxiety disappears after a week of ownership, having a longer electric driving range would be handy. Tesla Motors repeatedly proves that a long range electric car is simply a matter of squeezing enough kilowatt-hours of storage onto the car, and then being able to charge a high enough price for the car to pay for the battery pack. Berkeley CA based PolyPlus is developing lithium-air and lithium-water battery technology to make it more practically possible to carry enough kilowatt-hours on-board a car to go 500 miles or more on a charge.

Today PolyPlus announced they'd been selected as a finalist in the Power Generation/Utilization category of the 2012 Edison Best New Product Awards. The awards are named after famed inventor, Thomas Alva Edison. Among Edison's own inventions was a nickel-iron battery that was to be sold in electric cars manufactured by Ford, if it weren't for a mysterious fire that destroyed the Edison factory complex.

Lithium is a highly reactive metal which is known to do catastrophic things when exposed to air or water. Lithium is not found in nature as a pure metal, but always bound to other chemicals. Lithium Ion battery chemistries are a way of binding lithium to other chemicals in a battery for safety (and other) purposes, but this comes at the cost of an energy density much lower than the theoretical maximums. The PolyPlus technology for lithium-air and lithium-water creates the same safety, while maintaining a very high energy density.

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