Atlantic Wire oversells “liquid electric fuel” story

June 8, 2011

Researchers at MIT are working on a potentially game changing new form of battery for electric vehicles.  The batter would be able to be recharged by plug-in, as current EVs are, but would also be able to be recharged not unlike a traditional ICE is, but with an electrolyte gel rather than gasoline.   The battery in this approach would be lighter and cheaper than current batteries, would be able to recharge in the same amount of time as filling a gas tank, and could store up to 10x the energy of current batteries.  Such a breakthrough would truly make EVs viable and would be a major accomplishment.

So, then, what is my beef with the Atlantic Wire?  The Wire’s headline reads “MIT Figures Out a Way to Refuel Electric Cars with Liquid Fuel.”

Um, not really.  They have some ideas on the subject, but they most definitely have not “figured it out.”  Indeed, the MIT researchers report that their immediate goal is to build a fully functioning prototype in 18 months.  Here is hoping they meet that milestone, but go back through the archives here at EnerGeoPolitics or Popular Science or Gas 2.0 and count the number of exciting new fuels, batteries, and other technologies have never met early expectations, then compare that to the number of ICEs that continue to be churned out even in the midst of a deep, global recession.  I remain a technological positivist who believes that we will engineer our way out of our climate and energy problems (already this week, I have posted on the potential of garbage-into-gas and CO2 geothermal technologies), but I know that we are going to have far more misses than hits and I object to declaring anything complete when it is still this far away just from a working prototype.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: