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Reinventing the Edison Battery

Xilectric
Low-Cost Transportation Batteries
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$2,971,774
Location: 
Fall River, MA
Project Term: 
10/01/2012 to 09/30/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
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 Li-ion batteries used in EVs provide a driving range limited to 100 miles on a single charge and account for more than half of the total cost of the vehicle. 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: 
Xilectric is developing a totally new class of low-cost rechargeable batteries with a chemistry analogous to the original nickel-iron Edison battery. At the turn of the 20th century, Thomas Edison experimented with low-cost, durable nickel-iron aqueous batteries for use in EVs. Given their inability to operate in cold weather and higher cost than lead-acid batteries, Edison's batteries were eventually dismissed for automotive applications. Xilectric is reviving and re-engineering the basic chemistry of the Edison battery, using domestically abundant, environmentally friendly, and low-cost metals, such as aluminum and magnesium, as its active components. Xilectric's design would be easy to manufacture and demonstrate longer life span than today's best Li-ion batteries, enabling more widespread use of EVs.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, Xilectric's reinvented Edison battery would demonstrate lower-cost and longer life than today's best Li-Ion batteries at 25% of the manufacturing cost.
Security: 
Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil--the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.
Environment: 
Greater use of EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
Economy: 
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.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Ping Liu
Project Contact: 
Steven Weiss
Partners
Electrosynthesis Company, Inc.
Release Date: 
4/29/2010