The same technology that revolutionized popcorn making may soon aid in the quest for cheaper, better quality batteries for your future electric car. Yes, we're talking microwaves. The current process for creating lithium iron phosphate batteries, like the ones that A123 Systems sell, involves baking the materials for hours with temperatures rising as high as 700 degrees Celsius. Now, University of Texas materials science and engineering professor, Arumugam Manthiram, has hit on a way to use microwaves to zap a mixture of readily available materials to produce rod-shaped particles of lithium iron phosphate. Total zap time; 5 minutes. Early results indicate that not only may time be saved in the process but also energy capacity may be increased. If successful, the resulting battery could make your car cheaper and travel farther.
Start up battery company Actacell, who just last week received $5.58 million of Google investment money, is working with the good professor to commercialize his technologies. The company has already licensed earlier Manthiram advances but are not inclined to discuss those until some time next year. We will continue, of course, to bring you any good battery tidings when it arrives.

[Source: Technology Review]

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