7.5 times more effective than lithium-ion batteries
Academics too are interested in the advancement of magnesium fuel cell technology, albeit for more peaceful purposes. Takashi Yabe, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, has been pushing for greater use of magnesium as a solution to the tension between ever-growing energy needs and the immediate limitations of renewable energy sources. Indeed, Yabe’s commitment to using the 1,800 trillion tons of magnesium contained in sea water to meet the world’s energy needs made him one of Time magazine’s heroes of the environment in 2009. According to Yabe, an automobile with a zinc-air fuel cell achieved a mileage of 600 kilometers in 2003, and a magnesium-air fuel cell would be able to provide three times more energy than that, an amount that makes it 7.5 times more effective than a lithium-ion battery.
Granted, major technology drivers, including the US Department of Energy, still appear to be more focused on developing hydrogen fuel cell technology as a means to ensure greater use of renewable energy. Nonetheless, academic research, corporate investment and public demand will likely continue to drive the development of magnesium-air fuel cell technology, and will make it available on a large scale sooner rather than later.