PolyZion zinc-polymer batteries for electric vehicles

Current battery technologies for hybrid (HEVs) and small electric vehicles (EVs) have technological, costs or environmental limitations. Despite this, the global market for HEVs and EVs is growing rapidly and is expected to top $2billion by 2015. The PolyZion project aims to create a new class of fast rechargeable zinc-polymer battery for hybrid and small electric vehicles applications.

The research programme combines fundamental material and process advances in ionic liquids, rechargeable zinc electrodes, ultra-fast pulse charge injection techniques and conducting polymers, as well as constructing prototypes battery units for industry standard testing. The resulting battery device will be low cost, have low environmental impact and have the energy and power density necessary to compete with alternative battery technologies in the HEV and electric car markets.

PolyZion is a European-led consortium combining world-class research organizations in ionic liquids, conducting polymers, zinc deposition, pulse charging and batteries, as well as SME partners with expertise in technology development and specialised materials, and large industrial partners with industrial experience of battery manufacture and state-of-the-art testing facilities. The consortium also includes 2 organisations with world-class research expertise from an ‘Emerging Economy’ (Russia) and a ‘High Income’ country outside the EU (Canada).

PolyZion batteries will be composed of plastic, zinc and electrolytes. The new batteries will be lighter, more environmentally friendly, long lasting and safer to use.

According to PolyZion a variety of institutions and organizations are collaborating on the PolyZion battery project: “University of Leicester, C-Tech Innovation, Fundacion CIDETEC, Celaya Emparanza y Galdos SA (Cegasa), University of Porto, KEMA Nederland BV, AE Favorsky Irkutsk Institute of Chemistry, Institute de Recherche d’Hydro-Québec, Rescoll.”

The University of Leicester is spearheading the development of the PolyZion project. The EU Seventh Framework Programme is funding the €3.5 million research project involving all the above partners. Research into different components of the battery including ionic liquids, conducting plastics, zinc deposition, pulse charging and batteries is being conducted. Since the market for hybrids and electric vehicles is expected to exceed $2 billion within four years, this project stands to provide an excellent return on investment.

The project combines a new low-cost, air and moisture insensitive and environmentally sustainable class of electrolytes (ionic liquids) together with nano-structured zinc deposits and novel ultra-fast charging conducting polymers.

Or as Claire Fullarton, postgraduate researcher with the Department of Chemistry at the University of Leicester has said, "“This research involves the development of a new class of fast rechargeable batteries based on a zinc-plastic system incorporating a novel, inexpensive, environmentally sustainable solvent.”

If the PolyZion project wants part of the market in 2015, it’s going to need a miracle to make it. Eestor was supposed to revolutionize battery technology. It was expected to be in the Chevy Volt that hit the market late last year. Instead, EEstor appears to be nothing but a vanishing dream. In 2009 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) developed a battery that used a virus to produce energy. It hasn’t made it to market. Last December, scientists at Case Western improved the storage capacity of capacitors by as much as 1,000 fold but there is no word on when it will be commercially available.