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Friday, 17 June 2011

Reinventing rechargeable batteries

University of Leicester
June 15, 2011

Researchers are spearheading the development of a novel type of sustainable zinc-based rechargeable battery for electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid EVs.

The €3.5 million research project, PolyZion, is funded under the EU Seventh Framework Programme and combines world-class research organisations in investigating ionic liquids, conducting plastics, zinc deposition, pulse charging andbatteries.

At present, commonly used lead acid, nickel metal hydride or lithium ion rechargeablebatteries in electric vehicles have technological, cost and environmental limitations, in addition to short circuiting issues. With predictions that the rapid growth of the global market for EV and hybrid EVs is expected to top $2 billion by 2015 there is good promise for new battery technologies.

A postgraduate researcher with the Department of Chemistry, Claire Fullarton is focused on the design, production and properties of a new type of prototype battery, which would offer an improved performance, safety and environmental sustainability.

“This research involves the development of a new class of fast rechargeablebatteries based on a zinc-plastic system incorporating a novel, inexpensive, environmentally sustainable solvent,” said Miss Fullarton.

“This approach is necessitated by the problems associated with petrol and diesel powered vehicles, such as environmental impact, rising fuel prices, the looming shortage of oil and the limitations of batteries available for electric vehicles.”

The project combines a new low-cost, air and moisture insensitive and environmentally sustainable class of electrolytes (ionic liquids) together with nano-structured zinc deposits and novel ultra-fast charging conducting polymers.
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