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Rechargeable, Long-Life, Zinc-Air Battery

EnZinc
Rechargeable Dendrite-Free 3D Zinc Sponge Anode
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$452,357
Location: 
San Anselmo, CA
Project Term: 
02/19/2014 to 03/27/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Driving range, safety, and cost remain the biggest hurdles in the way of mass electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Innovative approaches to EV battery manufacturing present the opportunity to maximize stored energy relative to the weight of EVs, allowing for up to three times the driving range. These new battery chemistries and designs prevent overheating, are immune to catastrophic failure, and can be incorporated into the structure of a vehicle to improve strength in some cases. Much of this can be accomplished at a 30% lower cost compared to conventional batteries, thus bolstering widespread adoption of EVs.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
EnZinc is developing a low-cost battery using 3D zinc microstructured sponge technology that could dramatically improve the rechargeability of zinc-based EV batteries. As a battery material, zinc is inexpensive and readily available, but presently unsuitable for long-term use in EVs. Current zinc based batteries offer limited cycle life due to the formation of tree-like internal structures (dendrites) that can short out the battery. To address this, EnZinc, in collaboration with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, will replace conventional zinc powder-bed anodes with a porous zinc sponge that thwarts formation of structures that lead to battery failure. EnZinc's technology will enable zinc-based batteries that accept high-power charge and discharge as required by EVs.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, EnZinc's zinc-anode technology would reduce EV battery cost by more than 50%, double the amount of energy stored, and allow for greater rechargeability.
Security: 
This technology could provide inexpensive rechargeable zinc-air batteries, enabling the mass adoption of EVs and dramatically reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Environment: 
Greater use of EVs would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
Economy: 
Technological advancements from the RANGE program could enable EVs to travel significantly further on a single charge at a much lower cost than that of current EVs and conventional vehicles.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Ping Liu
Project Contact: 
Dr. Michael Burz
Partners
US Naval Research Laboratory
Release Date: 
8/21/2013