Rechargeable Zinc-Air Batteries

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Project Term:
10/01/2010 - 06/30/2012

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
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