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Rechargeable Zinc-Air Batteries

ReVolt Technology
ARPA-E Award: 
Portland, OR
Project Term: 
10/01/2010 to 06/30/2012
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Most of today's electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries--the same kind of batteries used in cell phones and laptop computers. Currently, most Electric Vehicle mounted Li-Ion batteries have a driving range limited to 100 miles on a single charge and account for nearly 65% of the total cost of EVs. To compete in the market with gasoline-based vehicles, EVs must cost less and drive farther. An EV that is cost-competitive with gasoline would require a battery with twice the energy storage of today's state-of-the-art Li-Ion battery at 30% of the cost.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
ReVolt Technology is developing a rechargeable zinc-air battery that could offer 300-500% more storage capacity than today's Li-Ion batteries at half their cost. Zinc-air batteries could be much more inexpensive, lightweight, and energy dense than Li-Ion batteries because air--one of the battery's main reactants--does not need to be housed inside the battery. This frees up more space for storage. Zinc-air batteries have not been commercially viable for use in EVs because they typically cannot be recharged, complicating vehicle "refueling". ReVolt has designed a system whereby the battery's zinc-based negative electrode is suspended in liquid and passed through a tube that functions as the battery's positive electrode. This allows the device to charge and discharge just like a regular battery.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, ReVolt's zinc-air battery would provide 300-500% more power than a traditional EV battery at less than half the cost, facilitating the widespread adoption of EVs.
Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil--the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.
Greater use of EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the U.S. transportation sector.
This battery would enable an EV to travel from Chicago to St. Louis (300 miles) on a single charge, for less than $10 on average.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Dane Boysen
Project Contact: 
Harvey Mancey
Release Date: