Israel’s Secret Project: Super-Battery To Reduce World’s Oil Thirst

By Alexandra Mann (translation) May 20, 2012 Comments

Quietly and with little media coverage, it seems that Israel has made it its national goal to develop a battery that can provide enough power for a 500 kilometer-drive with a single charge.

One month ago, the Israeli National Center for Electrochemical Propulsion was founded. The center will be inaugurated within the next weeks and will receive a budget of 45 million NIS (approximately $11.7 million) for the next four years.

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The center will include one hundred researchers divided into 12 teams from four academic institutions: Tel Aviv University, The Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), Bar Ilan University and Ariel University Center of Samaria.

The center’s sole purpose will be to research and develop new technologies to more effectively store electricity.

Replacing Oil

“Oil has no future, both because of politics and because of future shortages,” said the chairman of the center, Prof. Doron Urbach from Bar Ilan’s Department of Chemistry. “There has been a change in mindset in politicians that has permeated into the automotive industry and has gone all the way to battery manufacturers. They all want electric cars. In fact, it is already possible to drive for 150 kilometers with an electric car, which is enough for the average Israeli, and yet want to increase it.”

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A Better Place electric battery charge spot

“The greatest success of modern electrochemistry is the chargeable lithium-ion battery,” Urbach explains. “It’s a great battery for electronic devices, but for a car you’d need many of those batteries.

“Today, a battery like the one Better Place uses in its electric cars weighs 300 kg, enough for a 150 kilometer drive. Our aim is to extend that range without additional weight and volume.”

Improving batteries

A problem that electric car producers regularly encounter is the batteries’ limited speed of electric discharge. In other words – the discharge of energy in a short period of time, as required for car acceleration. The center is therefore working on the development of super-capacitors that can supply the required amount of energy in the desired amount of time.

These capacitors could provide a solution to energy storage, a burning issue in the scientific community. Advanced batteries could reduce dependency on oil, coal and natural gas, which are used to produce electricity. Solar and wind, for example, are not able to continuously produce a large amounts of energy, which means energy storage is one of the main challenges for renewable energies.

The next stage of development will be improving the batteries that are currently used in cars, which according to Urbach are based on technology over one hundred years old. “A car’s battery gives a few hundred cycles and then dies. This isn’t enough, since you cannot depend on batteries that need to be replaced every two to three years.”

To continue reading this article in Hebrew, click here.
This article was translated from The Marker

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