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Magnesium-Ion Batteries May Revolutionize Car Industry

The United Nations climate change conference in South Africa this week is unlikely to push governments to take drastic steps to tackle the challenges of climate change, but that does not mean there is no interest in developing green technologies. In fact, more businesses across the globe are eager to seek ways to become more environmentally sustainable, and with magnesium-ion batteries coming into the spotlight, the commodities industry is no exception.

Certainly, there has been plenty of chatter about magnesium’s potential in the clean technology market, especially when it comes to developing energy-efficient automobiles. Car manufacturers are racing to produce vehicles that will meet the US energy law which requires the average fleet to increase mileage per gallon to 35 by 2020, while the European Union’s emissions law requires car manufacturers to cut down carbon dioxide emissions to 95 grams per kilometer by 2020. It is not surprising then that a Silicon Valley venture capital group, Khosla Ventures, is investing in a spin-off company of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Pellion Technologies, that is in the midst of developing magnesium-ion batteries which some researchers say could potentially replace lithium-ion batteries. Not only is magnesium cheaper than lithium, it also has the potential to have twice the energy density of the lithium-ion batteries that are currently being used in electric cars as well as many electronic devices.

According to Pellion Technologies, if their research is successful, “this project will develop the first commercial magnesium-ion battery and will establish US technological leadership in this exciting new high energy battery chemistry for electrified vehicle applications.” Hence, the US Department of Energy’s backing of the project through a $3.2 million Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) grant last year, following Khosla Ventures’ first step to provide the company seed money in 2009.
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