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Will zinc-air batteries ever replace lithium-ion for long-range EVs?

The public has spoken and the message is clear: an innovative and cost-effective approach to energy storage is required to enable the transformation from IC engine cars to cleaner, long-range, full electric vehicles. Lithium-ion, although viable, has a competitor on the horizon – Zinc-air. Question is: When?

No matter how proud the owners of a $400-500 per month leased Chevy Volt may boast, the cost of electrification for automobile is too high for the masses. And all this talk that it will come down when the production volume rises lacks economic common sense. It’s not the production volume that will bring the cost down for the masses this time, but technology advances and a cheaper EV fuel storage; and one with sufficient energy density that avails the same driving range as a IC engine but without a $90K price tag.

One area of the electrification of the automobile under research for many years now has been the early commercialization of the zinc-air battery for energy storage. For the record, zinc is far cheaper and far more plentiful than lithium; and due to its lower cost, avails greater energy density within the same package size for an automotive application which demands 400-500 miles of range plus fast recharging.

When I attempted a recent web search, Fluidic Energy, a for-profit corporation based in Scottsdale, Arizona showed up. It focused on the development of energy storage devices, and specifically on metal-air cell technology. Founded in 2007, as a spin-off technology company from research done at Arizona State University, it received funding from both private sources and an energy development grant from the United States Department of Energy. I emailed the firm requesting an update, but still waiting for reply.


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