MIT Scientists Develop Electric Car Battery to Support 400 Mile Charge

We’ve reached a point in the hybrid and electric car market where we’re patiently, yet frustratingly, sitting around waiting for someone to produce a high-powered and long-capacity battery, all while being inexpensive and available for the standard market, rather than just the luxury vehicle segment.

Electric cars have advanced by leaps and bounds, with implausible technology becoming another aspect which we have come to expect from our green friends. Self-driving cars and cars that have the ability to charge our homes in case of emergencies are all great, but the practical issue isn’t going to disappear by throwing more gadgets at it. We just want to get from A to B on a single charge, without paying $100,000 plus.


MIT’s New Efficient Electric Car Battery

A group of scientists from the MIT named ‘SolidEnergy Systems Corp.’ have conjured up a concept battery pack that they say fits the quota for those of us looking for 400 miles of charge within the ideal and affordable $30,000 price tag. Using a method that was deemed ‘too dangerous’ back in the 70’s due to fire concerns.

Now, these concerns have been patched and fixed by the intelligence and hard work of this group of scientists whose battery cells showed volumetric energy densities as high as 1,337 Wh/L when a third-party MIT spinoff group called A123 systems conducted further tests.

The problems found back in the 70’s was that, while there were metal electrodes present, the electrodes would be unstable, thus being unsafe. Instead, SolidEnergy used a part solid, part liquid “biphasic electrolyte” which uses an ionic liquid and a polymer in the vicinity of the positive electrode and stability, leading to thermal runaway becoming a thing of the past.

MIT solid energy battery pack results


How Does it Compare with the Industry?

Tesla Motors’ industry-leading battery pack works out at around $400 per kilowatt-hour, but with SolidEnergy’s new concept there’s a lot less going on inside. There isn’t a thermal liquid coolant, nor is there the usual metal hardware that would typically be necessary in controlling temperatures for low-volatility chemistry.

This means that production costs plummet, and could potentially lead to a battery pack at around $130 per kilowatt-hour – less than half the price of Tesla’s.


When Are We Likely to See It?

But as promising as this all sounds, this concept is yet to leave the lab. A lab concept, though essential, is only the start in creating something that can later be implemented into our dearly beloved electric cars. Fortunately, the project is in good hands. With a dedicated and highly capable team being carefully monitored by Donald Sadoway, a John F. Elliot Professor of Materials Chemistry at MIT. Sadoway was also named in the TIME’s 100 Most Influential People in the World list.

Sadoway and his team are keeping the champagne celebrations on hold as yet though. Without any official performance stats, a trust in Sadoway and his team is all we have to hold on to for now. He believes that the technology is in place, but needs the input of industry specialists who can take the concept from the lab, and take it further.

As promising as this is for the electric car world, it is still potentially years away from impacting the average person’s life. If a major car producer looked into similar technology or looked to maybe join in on a project like this one, wouldn’t we all be one step closer to an electric future?

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  1. Jeez, title “MIT Scientists Develop Electric Car Battery to Support 400 Mile Charge”
    Actual content “A group of scientists from the MIT named ‘SolidEnergy Systems Corp.’ have conjured up a concept battery pack…”

    So NO, they did not develop a battery, they have a concept. Just more non-news.

  2. To answer the article’s question: “When are we likely to see it?” I offer this:

    Former professor [and] nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz, was the director of the MIT Energy Initiative until President Obama picked him to lead the US Department of Energy in 2013. MIT’s Energy Initiative is a research arm that has received more than $125 million in pledges from the oil and gas industry since 2006, according to the Public Accountability Initiative, a non-profit that blew the whistle on UBuffalo.

    The four “founding members” of MITEI — BP, Shell, Italy’s ENI and Saudi Aramco — each agreed to pay $25 million over five years for the right to help manage research projects, maintain an office at MITEI headquarters and “place a researcher in a participating MIT faculty member’s lab,” according to the MITEI website. Ten “sustaining members” commit $5 million each for fewer rights, but still get seats on MITEI’s executive committee and governing board.

    A host of others energy interests, including the Clean Skies Foundation, have participated as well, funding and shaping MIT research.

    Clean Skies was founded and chaired by Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy Corp., the nation’s No. 2 gas producer. At the time Clean Skies officials called on MIT with a research idea, Chesapeake had placed a large bet on high-volume hydraulic fracturing of shale formations, or fracking, by aggressively leasing land in shale regions.

    Given the foregoing, it is a safe bet that until MIT’s “fossil fuel masters” actually “allow” something significant to see the light of day and leave the lab, it will all just continue to be concept ideas that will never reach the market. Breakthrough batteries will eventually come, but probably not from anything at MIT.


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