Video: Gulf + Western Industries Unveils Zinc Chloride Battery in 1980 Commercial


Flashback to 1980 and this was the technology that was set to change the automotive world.

Electric Engine of the Future?

Electric Engine of the Future?

“In 1980, the engineers of Gulf + Western Industries invented this advanced Zinc Chloride energy storage system to power electric vehicles. Watch this entertaining and informative film describing what still could be the answer to replacing gasoline in cars and light trucks. Outstanding performance at 1/4 the cost of gasoline.”

Says the video description.

But wait…there’s more.  Additionally, the video features a load leveling device that was surely ahead of its time.

For some background on Gulf + Western there’s this:

“Gulf + Western Inc., corporation that was founded in 1958 by Charles Bluhdorn and became one of the most highly diversified conglomerates in the United States. Gulf + Western took control of the Paramount Pictures Corporation in 1966. Gulf + Western changed its name to Paramount Communications Inc. in 1989 and was acquired by the media conglomerate Viacom Inc. in 1994.”

Categories: Battery Tech, Videos


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13 Comments on "Video: Gulf + Western Industries Unveils Zinc Chloride Battery in 1980 Commercial"

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So, what killed it off?
Safety hazards, risk of venting Cl2 gas?

My guess is Exxon, Shell, Mobil, Texaco, BP, etcetera

Most likely it was the mind set in the late 1970’s when the gas crisis was ending and as much as there where gas crisis’s in the 1970’s gas and oil didn’t really get that expensive compared to do. Also there was a lot less computer and I phone things then we do now so having a EV at that time would have been really extreme.

Another barrier at the time was the major car makers themselves in that even now they are very suborn to EV’s. While in the 1970’s it was still towards the end of their golden age of their massive gas guzzler cars that got six to seven miles a gallon and if someone did come out with a EV with a 142 mile battery range they sure as a mad bluegill where not going to want to have anything to do with it.

Good reminder that technology does not usually progress through innovation, but through mass production.

Interesting.. So very, very long cycle life. Lots of other good characteristics, too. But the one thing I didn’t see mentioned was what kind of range could be expected from a vehicle with this sort of battery. There must be a reason that Nissan, Tesla, and everyone else used Lithium batteries in their cars.

They mentioned it indirectly – 142 miles in a tiny VW, so probably 100 in today’s size/weight car

They said 1400 cycles was approximately 200000 miles = ~142/cycle

This is one of the reasons why I’m mad that a EV built in 2014 can’t go more then 80 miles on a charge compared to a EV built in the 1970’s.

Well from the number describe in the video. The prototype car was able to go 228 km on one single charge.
I wonder how much energy this thing had and if this is a better density energy storage system?

Great, another thing to add to my “where would we be if only….” list.

+1 same thought

my google abilities are notoriously poor, but I cannot find anything related to Rechargeable zinc-chloride batteries.

ignoring the EV aspect, the load balancing application seems like it would have been very attractive against turbine purchase and maintenance – i.e., where did it go and why?

Can you say poisonous Chlorine gas escapement?

Why was nothing more heard?

Two factors
1) Gulf and Western turned into a media company
2) The battery DC efficiency was only 66%, so very lossy, even compared to lead-acid.