We’re Not Joking: You Might Soon Pump Electrons Like Gasoline

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As automotive journalists, April 1 is the day we get to let our collective hair down and write stories about cars that sound plausible, but are purely fictitious. 

All in the spirit of April Fool’s day, of course. 

But sometimes our April Fool’s pranks get a little close to reality, as we’ve just discovered. 

Last April 1, we posted an entirely fictitious article about oil Giant BP, who we said was developing a liquid electrolyte system that you could pump like gasoline to recharge your electric car. 

Then last week, Gigaom reported on startup company Eos Energy Storage, which has designed a refillable flow zinc-air battery. 

Unlike our prank, this story was completely true, and could represent a revolution in electric car recharging technology. 

Admittedly, Eos Energy’s battery system is still in the very early stages of research and development, so much so that Eos hasn’t made any of its batteries commercially available yet. 

2011 Chevrolet Volt late-night recharging in Little Rock, Arkansas, during July 2010 Freedom Drive

2011 Chevrolet Volt late-night recharging in Little Rock, Arkansas, during July 2010 Freedom Drive

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That will change by 2014, by which point Eos Energy hopes to have a more conventional zinc-air battery available to sell to the utility industry to provide grid-tied storage to help store excess electricity for peak period demand.

After that, Eos has said it hopes to bring its hybrid flow Zinc-air battery to market. 

Eos claims that theoretically, its hybrid flow battery could be used in automotive applications to lower an electric car’s sticker price to around $25,000 while giving it a 400 mile range. 

And the time to recharge? Around 3 minutes, using a specially-developed pumping system which could remove the used electrolyte and replenish it with fresh electrolyte. 

At present, Eos Energy hasn’t sought much in the way of venture capital, but is currently in the process of closing its first real funding round in order to bring its grid battery to market. 

After that, who knows. Maybe one day, we’ll be pulling into the gas station to replenish our electric car’s electrolyte -- although we must admit we frankly don't relish returning to a gas station after several years of not having to do anything except plug our electric cars in overnight. 

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