The latest breakthroughs in the battery war


As the global electrification campaign is in full swing, electric cars keep getting better in terms of mileage, performance, charge times and costs. And, Wright’s law has so far proven to be correct. According to Wright’s Law, aka the learning curve effect, lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cell costs drop 28% for every cumulative doubling of units produced. The battery is the most expensive part of an electric vehicle, and the prices of electric vehicle stickers have fallen along with the decline in battery costs. By 2023, the cost of Li-ion batteries is expected to drop to around $ 100 / kWh – low enough for electric vehicles to reach price parity with their gasoline brethren.

Yet Li-ion batteries have a number of obvious drawbacks. The ability and ability to deliver a peak load deteriorates over time; they give off a lot of heat and require heavy cooling systems to be incorporated into their design, and batteries can explode or catch fire if damaged in an accident by the flammable liquid they contain.

Over the years, scientists have returned to the drawing board and redesigned the original li-ion battery to overcome some of these shortcomings.

From graphene-based energy storage and lithium-ion batteries with water to cheaper sodium-based batteries and solid-state batteries, here are the latest advancements in battery technology.

# 1. Non-flammable graphene-based battery packs

Ultrathin, incredibly strong, superconducting, inexpensive – and impossible to use. These are some of the characteristics of graphene, the gee-whiz nanomaterial that was supposed to forever change the face of materials science as we know it. Yet with the exception of a few new applications, the promise of graphene has remained for the most part just a hype 16 years after two professors at the University of Manchester first found a way to extract it graphite.

But that hasn’t stopped star-eyed scientists from touting a graphene superbattery that can charge faster, hold a lot more power, and cost a fraction of conventional lithium batteries.

And, finally, a little-known company made that dream come true.

Battery start in Los Angeles Nanotechnology energy announced that it will start taking pre-orders for its high-performance, graphene-based, non-flammable lithium-ion batteries that promise to provide safer and more powerful energy storage than traditional lithium-ion batteries.

Nanotech’s new batteries are powered by the company’s proprietary graphene-based electrodes and non-flammable electrolyte – Organolyte â„¢ – and can be fully customized to fit any form factor or container, eliminating the need for need for OEMs to redesign existing products or compromise new ones. These non-flammable batteries can be used to power electric vehicles, bicycles, consumer electronics, military equipment, and other electrified devices.

“Battery storage has not yet reached its potential – until now. Unlike traditional batteries which pose serious fire hazards, Nanotech Energy’s non-flammable lithium-ion batteries are inherently safe and environmentally friendly, which we believe will prompt more industries to switch from gas to gas. ‘electricity. Ultimately, our batteries will enable faster adoption by dramatically reducing the time and cumulative costs currently incurred by OEMs in testing and integrating new battery technology, ” Dr. Jack Kavanaugh, chief executive officer and co-founder of Nanotech Energy, said in a press release.

Nanotech Energy recently received an award CES 2022 innovation award for its non-flammable Graphene-Organolyte â„¢ batteries

# 2. Lithium-ion battery with water

The risk of fire or explosion due to manufacturing defects, damage or thermal runaway is an Achilles heel for Li-ion batteries. In recent years, several car manufacturers, including General Motors, Audi, and HyundaI reminded electric vehicles about the risks of fire and I warned of the associated dangers.

Fortunately, researchers have now developed a prototype lithium-ion battery that uses water as an electrolyte solution, replacing a flammable organic solvent.

In a summary published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, a team of scientists has developed a prototype that reaches “Higher ionic conductivity, environmental harmlessness and high safety.

The main disadvantage of the battery is a lower performance level and can only be used under low voltage conditions.

the Asahi Shimbun at shared more details about the new aqueous battery:

[Scientists] discovered that the use of molybdenum oxide for the negative electrode can achieve the performance levels required for practical use. Even after the battery was recharged 2,000 times, its capacity dropped by less than 30%.

As the water is decomposed when the high voltage is applied, the prototype battery can only be used under lower voltage conditions compared to organic solvent based batteries.

Its weight energy density – an indicator of battery performance – is about half the level of a conventional product, meaning that larger body size is essential to produce a battery of the same capacity.

The lower energy density of the water battery means that it may not be easily applicable to long-range electric vehicles, but can still be useful in short-range electric vehicles as well as for storage of the battery. solar and wind power.

# 3. Cheaper sodium batteries

In another battery breakthrough, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new sodium-based battery highly stable material capable of recharging as quickly as a traditional lithium-ion battery.

For about a decade, scientists and engineers have been trying to develop sodium batteries that replace both lithium and cobalt used in current lithium-ion batteries with cheaper, more environmentally friendly sodium. Unfortunately, earlier versions of sodium batteries were plagued by needle-like filaments called dendrites that grow on the anode and cause the battery to electrically short and even fire or explode.

However, the latest sodium battery from the University of Texas at Austin solves the dendrite problem and charges as quickly as a lithium-ion battery.

We basically solve two problems at once. As a general rule, the faster you charge, the more these dendrites increase. So if you suppress the growth of dendrites, you can load and unload faster, because all of a sudden it is safe “, David Mitlinsaid a professor in the Walker Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Research at the Cockrell School of Engineering.

# 4. GM moves closer to solid-state battery after POSCO deal

Over the past decade, EV makers have touted solid-state batteries as the next breakthrough in EV technology, often citing insane performance and range. Solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte which can take the form of ceramic, glass, sulfites, or solid polymers as opposed to the liquid or polymer gel that is found in conventional lithium-ion batteries.

Solid-state batteries promise around 2-10 times the energy density of lithium-ion batteries of the same size, mainly thanks to the solid electrolyte having a smaller footprint. That means more powerful batteries without the extra space, or more compact batteries without compromising on power, longer range electric cars and lighter electric vehicles. They are also expected to load faster.

In September, the world’s largest automaker, Toyota Corp. raises the stakes after announcing its intention to invest more than $ 13.5 billion by 2030 develop new generation batteries, including solid-state batteries.

The Japanese automaker says it wants to reduce the cost of its batteries by 30% or more by working on the materials used in the manufacture of batteries and also by improving power consumption.

And now another ICE giant is betting the firm on solid-state technology.

Last week provided the clearest sign that General Motors has a solid state EV battery up its sleeve after linked to the Korean firm POSCO Chemical to build a new battery plant in the United States. The new plant will produce hardware for GM’s much-advertised Ultium energy storage platform. Although Ultium Energy is not a solid-state battery, the new partnership indicates that GM is moving closer to a solid-state battery.

Last spring, GM announced a common agreement with lithium metal company SES (formerly Solid Energy Systems), marking a series of lithium-metal partnerships that it has forged in recent years

GM has nearly 100 patents (49 granted and 45 pending) of its own in lithium metal technology and was an early investor in SES.

By Alex Kimani for Oil Octobers

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