Building a Better Battery: New Tech Could Make Electric Cars Cheaper

building a better battery new tech could make electric cars cheaper chiang x220The brain behind the batteries used in everything from New York City transit busses to an electric motorcycle that does 0 to 60 miles per hour in under one second is up to something new. Ken Chiang, a cofounder of lithium-ion battery mogul A123 Systems, is striking out on his own under a new marquee to build batteries that could be up to 85 percent cheaper than anything available today.

Chiang will remain at A123, and as a professor of materials science at MIT, but pursue the a different technology at his new company, 24M. On Monday, the company announced it had secured $10 million in venture-capital funding and another $6 million from ARPA-E, a branch of the U.S. Department of Energy. A123 Systems will also retain a stake in the startup.

While Chiang has remained intentionally vague about how the new batteries will work, he claims they will combine attributes of rechargeable batteries, fuel cells, and flow batteries. The breakthrough: A traditional lithium-ion battery wastes significant space within it on construction materials – like the separators between the anode and cathode. Chiang’s new design will eliminate the need for them, potentially increasing energy density and decreasing manufacturing costs.

The cost of traditional lithium-ion batteries accounts for much of the expensive involved with producing hybrid and fully electric vehicles. A replacement battery pack for the Prius costs over $2,000, and early GM estimates put the price of the Chevy Volt’s battery pack as high as $10,000.

But don’t expect a half-price version of the Volt powered by new batteries any time soon. According to MIT’s TechnologyReview, Chiang hopes to have the first demonstrations of his batteries ready within five years.

Product Review

Audi built an electric SUV for buyers who want gasoline-free to mean stress-free

We finally got to spend time behind the wheel of the electric 2019 Audi E-Tron bustling cities and arid desert of the United Arab Emirates to see how it compares with Jaguar and Tesla's competitors.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.
Smart Home

Tank vs. tankless heaters: Why tankless is not always the best choice

Tank vs. tankless water heater: Which is better? While some people think tankless is the better choice, that's not always the case. Here, we lay out the pros and cons to each, so you can make a more informed decision when shopping around.
Cars

Aston Martin bets classic car owners will choose volts over carburetors

Aston Martin has converted one of its most sought-after classic models to run on electricity instead of gasoline. The roadster uses electric components sourced from the upcoming Rapide E sedan.
Emerging Tech

Feast your eyes on the wildest, most elaborate Rube Goldberg machines ever built

Want to see something totally mesmerizing? Check out several of the best Rube Goldberg machines from across the internet, including one that serves cake and other that do ... nothing particularly useful.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Features

Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.
Emerging Tech

Scoot your commute! Here are the 9 best electric scooters on the market

Electric scooters are an affordable, convenient way to minimize your carbon footprint and zip around town. Check out 8 of our current favorites, whether you're working with a budget or have some cash to spare.
Emerging Tech

Hear the sounds of wind on Mars from InSight’s latest audio recording

NASA's InSight craft has captured the sound of the wind blowing on the surface of Mars. The audio file was picked up by the air pressure sensor and the seismometer which detected vibrations from the 10 to 15 mph winds in the area.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

New experiment casts doubt on claims to have identified dark matter

A South Korean experiment called COSINE-100 has attempted to replicate the claims of dark matter observed by the Italian DAMA/LIBRA experiment, but has failed to replicate the observations.
Emerging Tech

White dwarf star unexpectedly emitting bright ‘supersoft’ X-rays

NASA's Chandra Observatory has discovered a white dwarf star which is emitting supersoft X-rays, calling into question the conventional wisdom about how X-rays are produced by dying stars.
Business

Amazon scouted airport locations for its cashier-free Amazon Go stores

Representatives of Amazon Go checkout-free retail stores connected with officials at Los Angeles and San Jose airports in June to discuss the possibility of cashier-free grab-and-go locations in busy terminals.
Emerging Tech

Full-fledged drone delivery service set to land in remote Canadian community

Some drone delivery operations seem rather crude in their execution, but Drone Delivery Canada is building a comprehensive platform that's aiming to take drone delivery to the next level.