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What kind of battery is to be used on EVs in the future?

Schematic representation of a Na-ion battery cell. Photo: https://pubs.acs.org/

What type of batteries do electric cars use now?

Over the past 40 years, battery technology has made significant strides. We’ve gone a long way from lead-acid batteries in the past thanks to the drive for more environmentally friendly energy.

The two most popular battery types utilized in electric cars today are lithium-ion batteries and nickel-metal hybrid batteries. Hybrid cars were made possible by nickel-metal hybrid batteries, which were developed in 1987. This occurred as a result of the development of a novel cathode material composed of silicon, nickel, cobalt, lanthanum, and nickel. Even after 4,000 charge/recharge cycles, the improved mix allowed the cell to maintain 84% of its charge capacity. The nickel-metal hybrid batteries were later able to preserve substantially higher energy density than lead-acid batteries thanks to further advancements in battery chemistry. Now, you’ll find nickel-metal hybrid batteries primarily in hybrid cars.

Most new electric cars feature lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-ion and lithium-iron phosphate (or LFP) dominate the current EV battery landscape. They have pros and cons in terms of range, raw material prices and more. Tesla (TSLA) uses both lithium-ion and LFP batteries. Emerging arch-rival BYD (BYDDF) uses a specialized LFP battery.

Manufacturers are sparing no effort to compete for the future.

The development of more affordable, dense, and lightweight batteries is a major focus for both battery manufacturers and automobiles. New technologies run the gamut. Some people modify old battery chemistry to achieve small improvements. Others modify the battery form factor or the battery assembly to achieve significant cost or performance reductions. Radically new chemistry and other significant advancements are anticipated in the future.

General Motors (GM) modified the lithium-ion chemistry for their next-generation batteries to drastically reduce prices. The increased size and cutting-edge architecture of Tesla’s new 4680 battery cell are said to result in cost savings and other advantages. The world’s largest battery manufacturer, CATL of China, boasts even greater advancements with its new Kirin battery, in part because of how cells are assembled into packs.

The most revolutionary battery developments could originate from a number of parties. According to automakers, batteries are the next gold rush. The adoption of electric vehicles will be fueled by better, more powerful batteries. The battery, which currently acts as a crucial structural component in EVs and provides electricity as well, is being incorporated into whole automobile chassis.

Certainly, the battle in battery technology extends beyond electric vehicles. Everything, including power drills, computers, and cellphones, is powered by batteries. Demand for batteries is increasing from the utility industry itself. However, there’s a good reason why automakers jumped out in front of this competition: 80% of the demand for lithium-ion batteries comes from EVs.

The future of batteries.

Battery companies continue to explore alternatives to the dominant lithium-based chemistry. Last July, CATL revealed the first generation of its sodium-ion batteries for use across EVs and stationary storage, targeting a launch in 2023. Although in its early days, the sodium-ion battery holds up well even in very cold climates and virtually eliminates the fire risk tied to lithium-ion batteries, CATL said.

Besides sodium-ion, solid-state battery technology could replace lithium-ion cells. Startups developing solid-state batteries call lithium-ion a legacy tech, reaching the limits of advances in energy density as demand for higher performance surges.

Solid-state batteries promise far higher energy density and quicker charging, along with lower fire risk. As a result, several auto giants invested in QuantumScape, SES and SolidEnergy. The big difference with a solid-state battery lies inside the electrolyte. While lithium-ion batteries use a liquid electrolyte, their solid-state cousins use a solid form.


Post time: Jul-26-2022