New reports about EV battery innovation and the resulting increase in range is the final nail in the internal combustion engine coffin.
A new safer battery, tested for a thousand cycles in a test cell, can store far more energy than today’s common lithium-ion batteries. The typical lithium-ion battery used in the car industry today stores about 200 watt-hours per kilo (Wh/kg). One group just reached 675 Wh/kg.
This would not only spell the end of fossil fuel, but also end experiments with fuel cells.
“This is a high enough density to power trucks, trains, and arguably mid-haul aircraft, long thought to be beyond the reach of electrification. The team believes it can reach 1,200 Wh/kg. If so, almost all global transport can be decarbonised more easily than we thought, and probably at a negative net cost compared to continuation of the hydrocarbon status quo.”
The Argonne National Laboratory is responsible for all of this innovation in battery technology for electric vehicles. That means future range of electric vehicles over a thousand miles or more. It promises to do so cheaply without exhausting the global supply of critical minerals in the process.
Larry Curtiss, an Argonne Distinguished Fellow, the project leader,said that his battery needs no cobalt. That eliminates reliance on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which accounts for 74pc of the world’s production and has become a Chinese economic colony for the extraction of raw materials.
The team employed many different techniques to establish that a four-electron reaction was actually taking place. One key technique was transmission electron microscopy (TEM) of the discharge products on the cathode surface, which was carried out at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials, a DOE Office of Science user facility. The TEM images provided valuable insight into the four-electron discharge mechanism.
Past lithium-air test cells suffered from very short cycle lives. The team established that this shortcoming is not the case for their new battery design by building and operating a test cell for 1000 cycles, demonstrating its stability over repeated charge and discharge.
There are many questions that need to be answered:
- How long would this take to move out of innovation and into implementation?
- How quickly can it get to the important $100/kWh cost?
- How will this do in cold weather?
The Argonne National Laboratory in the US is a joint project with the Illinois Institute of Technology. “For over a decade, scientists at Argonne and elsewhere have been working overtime to develop a lithium battery that makes use of the oxygen in air,” said Curtiss. “The lithium-air battery has the highest projected energy density of any battery technology being considered for the next generation of batteries beyond lithium-ion.”