The future of electric car refuelling

The future of electric car refuelling

Posted by

Martin Brown

August 2018

Imagine driving your electric car into a fuel station.

You avoid the petrol and diesel pumps. Obviously. And glide silently (you’re an EV don’t forget) towards the ‘electric fuel’ pump.

In about the same time that it’s taken your fellow motorists at the traditional pumps to refuel you have replenished the fuel in your battery.

In minutes, not hours hooked up to a charger.

Not only that, the spent battery fuel has been drained and is being recycled and recharged for the next electric car driver.

Sounds a bit too futuristic? Perhaps. But perhaps not.

Such a scenario is the promise envisaged by scientists at the University of Glasgow.

A team of three chemists have been investigating how a nano-molecule can store electric power, or hydrogen gas, to provide a new type of hybrid energy storage system.

The scientists have called it a ‘hybrid-electric-hydrogen’ flow battery.  And forgive me if my schoolboy chemistry deserts me here…

But the scientists have created an energy dense fuel that is made up of these nano molecules. And this fuel can be released as either electricity – or hydrogen (so good for you if you are driving a hydrogen powered fuel cell car).

More importantly for electric vehicle drivers, this energy dense fuel is a pumpable liquid. The Glasgow University scientists reckon that the battery of an electric car could be “recharged” in roughly the same length of time as conventional fuelled cars can be filled up.

Meanwhile, the old battery liquid is drained and removed while refuelling is going on and can then be recharged (via solar) ready to be used again.

It does, I have to admit, sound brilliant. I’m really excited by it. Not least when you consider how little development time battery power has enjoyed in comparison with the internal combustion.

The findings from the University of Glasgow were published in the journal Nature Chemistry this month.

As a footnote, we are, of course, based in Glasgow. So it’s welcoming to see such news coming from the City. And also the fact that Glasgow City Council has been nominated in the National Transport Awards, which are supported by the Department for Transport and Transport Focus.

Glasgow has a real issue with clean air – like all other major cities in the UK. So the Council’s nomination for the contract extension and expansion of its cycling scheme is a sign that steps are being taken to improve air quality. And being recognised on a national scale. I wish the Council every success – along with those brilliant chemists from the University.


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