Toyota has again proven to be the technology and innovation leader among car makers. The company’s research department in Japan announced a car battery that relies on pure air for generating electricity. With great foresight, Toyota established an own department for battery development as the company saw the point that in the future, the batteries powering electric cars will decide who stays ahead and who falls behind. Thus, staying ahead in power storage should keep Toyota on the road to success and to stay ahead of competition.
Earlier this year, Toyota has already announced a next-gen battery superior to lithium-ion batteries which made competitors shiver. Toyota’s battery of hope should outperform others by far and help Toyota to launch a whole lineup of electric and hybrid cars that ought to be competitive with cars using combustion engines from day one – even without government subsidies.
With nickel-metal-hydrogen batteries currently used in Toyota’s hybrid vehicles and lithium-ion batteries being quite expensive and having too low an energy density, they drive up the overall price of electric cars and limit the range of the cars. This new battery technology could spark serious research and investments. Insiders expect that the batteries could lead to electric cars by killing the last remaining obstacles.
The oxidation of zinc with the oxygen from the air at a zinc electrode generates electricity. The technology is inexpensive to use and produce as zinc is relatively cheap. Besides, zinc-air batteries are able to hold five times more energy than conventional lithium-ion batteries.
Nevertheless, zinc-air batteries could be commericially available only after 2020 with some challenges yet to be taken. The concept is still at the development stage and hasn’t been produced at a size that’d be adequate for electric cars yet.
Zinc-air fuel cells are not rechargable. Therefore, refueling can only be done by exchanging the “spent” zinc cathodes at fueling stations. These used zinc cathodes can be recycled easily by reducing them back to zinc. More detailed with pictures: http://www.electric-fuel.com/evtech/index.shtml
Some already call zinc the new energy transfer medium. Metallic is considered to be a cheaper, cleaner and more efficient energy-carrier than e.g. hydrogen or current batteries.
Though air-powered cars came into my mind first, when I red about “air batteries” for the first time, but this zinc-air technology has nothing in common with compressed air cars such as Tata’s CityCat or Mr. DiePietros brilliant almost frictionless motor. (The Air Car could revolutionize transportation – an electric car without an electric motor)
I don’t doubt that the technology is cutting-edge, but watching this video I began wondering whether this Las Vegas city bus drawing its power from zinc-air batteries wasn’t a bit ahead of schedule?