Five Emerging Battery Technologies for Electric Vehicles
Within the last decade or so, electric vehicle technology has gained momentum. Tesla, the first to start the EVs was later joined by the companies like Nissan, Porche, Chevy and BMW. Now, a latest announcement has come that Volvo will start manufacturing only electric vehicles after 2020. This announcement can have wide-ranging ramifications on the global car battery market.
These vehicles would not have been seen on the road without the lithium-ion battery, which is right now the most preferred battery type, which can last up to 200 miles i.e. 321.86 kilometers on a single charge. This makes EVs affordable and also less expensive. But as is the case with every other new technology, lithium-ion batteries too have disadvantages and are in desperate need of a makeover, they still can’t beat the combustion engine cars in terms of speed and power. Safety, on the other hand, is again a major concern as lithium-ion is not the best storage device. The tech columnist for Yahoo Finance, David Pogue says that this decade old technology is explosive and expensive too and has limited battery life. The emerging battery technology for electric vehicles includes,
- Solid State Li-ion Batteries - Tufts University Professor Mike Zimmerman confronted the explosive problem of the lithium-ion by eliminating the liquids. He examined both the benefits and drawbacks and finalized a solid polymer electrolyte which would be safer than the currently used liquid. This solid Li-ion battery can be sliced and deflated without an explosion or a breakdown. The polymer electrolyte is fire resistant and does not allow dendrites to appear on the electrode, increasing the battery life and number of charging rounds. Although the battery is fully functional and works great on small devices like smartphones, improving the battery’s energy compactness, charging rounds and manufacturing with reduced cost will certainly add up to the current disadvantage.
- UREA Batteries - Waste products from the brewing industries became the main ingredients for energy generator and storage system for the companies like Cambrian Innovation and Kona Brewing Company. Engineers from Stanford University created a battery with components of urine – urea - as electrolytes. This non-flammable battery is combined with electrodes made from aluminum and graphite making it more efficient and inexpensive. The test results illustrated a moderately swift charging pace delivering over 1500 charges per rotation. With all the welcoming features in an EV Battery, whilst the charging rate is fast, and the smaller capacity may not be a matter with lower costs, for now, it’s suitable only for stationary appliances.
- Aluminum-air battery – This battery technology uses oxygen naturally arising in the air to fill its cathode making it far lighter as compared to the liquid filled lithium-ion giving the car a greater range. Aluminum-air batteries exhaust by turning into aluminum hydroxide which later can be used to make fresh batteries leading to substituting batteries in every few months. The automakers need to adopt to the efficient and cost-effective batteries offering huge mileage and affordable, this might be one of the technology which we will see in our bonnets.
- UltraBattery - Institute for Transformative Technologies (ITT) in India is currently evaluating a hybrid lead-acid battery known as the ultrabattery with an incorporated super capacitor. This is the core technology following Ecoult’s ultraflex which funded by The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). This technology is having multiple energy storage systems with program of rural electrification. As of now in rural locations diesel is being used to generate power which pollutes the air and costly. It is expected to substitute the mini grids made of solar displays and energy storage systems.
- Sodium-ion batteries – The sixth most common element on the planet, sodium is used in place of lithium by Japanese scientists which is seven times more efficient than the usual batteries. With the increase in battery powered cars, lithium will become rare and expensive eventually, replacing it with the most common element will make the batteries cheaper.
These are the emerging battery technologies for electric vehicles. As electric vehicles transform from being a buzzword to the future of automotives, investments in R&D will witness an increase.