“Refillable” electric cars

A barrier to wider acceptance of electric cars has been the time it takes to recharge their battery packs. What if you run low in the middle of the day and have to sit for an hour while your EV refuels?

Engineers at Purdue University can ease those fears. They’ve developed a technique for “refilling” electric cars’ fuel system similar to the way your pump gas now.

Their method pumps a water-based electrolyte into the battery pack about as fast as gas flows into a conventional fuel tank. The battery pack has a positive terminal that the electrolyte eats up after about 3,000 miles – about as often as you should change your car’s oil – and has to be replaced.

The spent electrolyte can then be recharged – using renewable energy to do so, the inventors hope – and then re-used.

The team says that the technology is safer than petrol power, is chemically stable, and would be cost-competitive with conventional fuel systems. It also creates “more power than you would ever guess could come out of a battery like this,” one of the developers says.

They envision gas stations and quick-oil-change shops easily converting to incorporate their e-fuel system and have formed a company called IFBattery to commercialize it.


Engineers have solved the technological challenges around electric cars themselves. The chief barrier to wider public acceptance has been the difficulty of refueling away from home. Breakthroughs such as Purdue’s will smash those barriers and make EVs mainstream before 2030.

Skip to content