Low-Cost Water-Based Electric Vehicle Batteries

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Project Term:
11/13/2013 - 08/12/2015

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:

The University of Houston is developing a battery with a new water-based, lithium-ion chemistry that makes use of sustainable, low-cost, and high-energy organic materials. Conventional lithium-ion batteries include volatile materials and chemistries that necessitate considerable packaging to ensure safety. This additional packaging results in a heavier, bulkier battery and limits where the battery can be placed within the vehicle. In contrast, the University of Houston’s organic materials are readily available, safe, and non-volatile, making them ideal for use in battery construction. The University of Houston will identify, synthesize, and optimize new organic compounds for storage that are inherently safer and require less heavy shielding to safely construct them.

Potential Impact:

If successful, the University of Houston’s new batteries would offer twice the energy density of conventional batteries, providing greater EV driving range while minimizing the impact of a battery failure and enabling greater design flexibility for vehicle manufacturers.


This technology could significantly improve the safety of EV batteries due to the intrinsically safe battery chemistry involved.


Greater use of EVs would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.


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.


ARPA-E Program Director:
Dr. Ping Liu
Project Contact:
Prof. Yan Yao
Press and General Inquiries Email:
Project Contact Email:


Southwest Research Institute

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