While the driving range of electric vehicles (EVs) is improving, the long time it takes to charge them (along with their expensive price tags) is one of the main reasons consumers have been slow to embrace battery-powered cars thus far. EVs take several hours to recharge, and even the quick-charging stations being set up in SA take about 72 minutes to charge a vehicle from zero to 80% — far longer than the couple of minutes it takes to fill up a petrol or diesel car. However, there could be a clever new solution: batteries that instead of being charged can be refilled in minutes at a network of converted petrol stations. Scientists are working on flow batteries that would allow motorists to drive until the battery electrolyte in their electric car is depleted, and then simply fill up their car with new electrolyte — taking the same time as it would to fill up with petrol or diesel. Like the lithium-ion batteries used in most EVs in use today, flow batteries produce energy through ch...

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