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Liquid Batteries: The New Black Gold?

Battery swapping in theory sounds promising. Instead of waiting for your batteries to charge, just exchange them for freshly-charged ones. But a scalable and efficient swapping system has high hurdles. Batteries are mostly incompatible across different EV brands, battery packs are not easily accessible, and it’s expensive to have batteries sitting around waiting to be swapped.

What if, instead of swapping the entire battery, you could exchange only the inner battery material?  That obviously wouldn’t work with today’s solid-materials batteries where, for example, a Lithium-Ion battery exchanges ions between lithium and carbon electrodes. However, according to MIT News, 24M Technologies is developing batteries with electrodes consisting of a thick liquid instead of solids. Ironically, they’re using a thick black liquid that looks much like crude oil.

These “semi-solid flow cell” batteries would in turn create all sorts of new swapping and “refueling” opportunities, from liquid fill-ups (where the depleted liquid would be pumped out and exchanged for fresh liquid) to liquid tank exchanges (where an entire tank of liquid would be exchanged), all of which could perhaps someday be performed at your local gas station.

Liquid batteries are undoubtedly several years out but definitely a technology worth keeping an eye on.

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