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Will magnesium power the EVs of the future?

Posting in Energy

Much has been made of our increasing reliance on costly lithium-ion batteries to power our cell phones, electronics - and our cars. And while the batteries have allowed electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles significant acceleration capacity, battery life - and thus range - of EVs still lags behind what much of the public considers a desirable level.

But researchers at Toyota have been developing a battery that uses magnesium rather than lithium and which has the potential to become a cheaper and more energy-rich source of power.

According to a paper published in the journal Chemical Communications earlier this month, researchers at the Toyota Research Institute of North America conducted promising experiments that used [a magnesium-ion battery with a new kind of anode, made of tin, and the same type of electrolytes used in lithium-ion batteries.]

Magnesium is much more common in nature than lithium, which would mean significantly cheaper batteries. And because of the magnesium ion's two positive charges, as opposed to the lithium ion's one, it is thought that magnesium batteries could have a higher energy storage capacity than their lithium counterparts.

But don't hold your breath for cheaper cars and longer ranges just yet - industry researchers also note that even if all the research proves successful, magnesium batteries may not be commercially available for another 10 years.

Photo: Toyota

via [MIT Technology Review]

— By on November 28, 2012, 7:05 PM PST

Channtal Fleischfresser

Contributing Editor

Contributing Editor Channtal Fleischfresser has worked for The Economist, WNET/Channel 13, Al Jazeera English, Wall Street Journal and Associated Press. She holds degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is based in New York. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure