A former IT engineer has come up with a simple solution for the most vexing problem in electric vehicles: finding a good battery.
The idea came from an encounter with a young electric car enthusiast, who was having a very bad day.
“I am a big fan of Tesla Motors and the Tesla Model S,” he said.
“They are quite powerful, and they have the fastest acceleration I have ever seen.”
But it turns out the car was running on a battery that he had no clue about, and he was left in a difficult situation.
“It was a very frustrating day,” he says.
“I went back and forth between the garage and the shop and I didn’t know how to fix the problem.
It was getting frustrating.”
It turns out there is a simple fix for this kind of problem.
When it comes to finding a battery, most people are only familiar with the basics, like what to charge it, when to charge and how much energy it takes to produce the desired speed.
But this is all completely wrong.
Battery chemistry is actually incredibly complex and a lot of the things that make it up are completely beyond our understanding.
For example, it’s not just how much charge a battery has left in it, but also how much voltage the battery can deliver.
“There are several different kinds of batteries,” explains Dr Chris Bunnett, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Exeter, UK.
“Some are rechargeable and some are not.
A lithium ion battery can be recharged using lithium-ion cells, while a cobalt oxide battery can’t.”
What Dr Bunnet and his colleagues found was that lithium-iron batteries are the best bet for electric vehicles.
In a paper published in Nature Energy last year, Dr Bunsitt and his team calculated that a lithium-air battery could have a theoretical maximum charge of 2,800 milliamperes (mAh) per kilowatt hour (kWh) and that a cobex oxide battery could deliver a maximum of 2.5 kWh per kWh.
It is this theoretical capacity that drives most of the cost of an electric vehicle, and Dr Buntt says that is why they wanted to know if lithium-based batteries would offer the same performance in electric cars.
“We were very keen to find out if we could get a good performance from a lithium ion or a cobolyte battery, because that would allow us to build a battery which was cost-competitive,” he explains.
“That is the challenge.”
So Dr Bunt and his research team tested four different battery chemistry types, including lithium-oxygen, cobalt-oxide, and lithium-alloy, and discovered that the best battery for electric cars was the lithium-battery.
Dr Bunnitt and the team were able to use this knowledge to design a battery made of a new type of battery that is less energy dense than lithium-metal batteries.
“The chemistry of the battery is the same as that of lithium-lithium alloy,” he adds.
“But the chemistry of a lithium metal battery is very different to that of a coballoy or lithium-oxide battery.”
In a nutshell, the new battery uses lithium ions instead of cobalt, and this is where the name lithium ion comes from.
“When we say cobalt in the name, we mean that cobalt is the positive charge,” Dr Buna explains.
“The other ions in the battery are the negative charge, and when we add lithium to the battery, we make it the negative and that gives it the capacity of lithium, which we call the ‘charge capacity’ of the cell.”
So it’s a battery with both positive and negative charges, and that’s why we call it a lithium battery.
“Dr Bunts battery also has some of the same properties as an aluminum or carbon-based battery, so it offers the same energy density as a metal battery.”
This battery is also the most efficient of all battery types,” Dr Baillie explains.
This makes it an ideal choice for electric car buyers who are looking for a battery to fit their vehicle.”
If you want a battery for a car that is going to run on the grid for years, it will be the best choice for you,” Dr Thomsen adds.
But it will not replace the best lithium-cobalt batteries, which are cheaper to build and run, and it does not provide the best performance, as there is less capacity in the batteries.
And it will take longer to charge an electric motor, which can be an important consideration for the future.”
If you need to drive for months or years without being able to recharge the battery that you have bought, then you will be disappointed.””
But they do make sense for today’s cars.
If you need to drive for months or years without being able to recharge the battery that you have bought, then you will be disappointed.”
Dr Thamseng also warns that these batteries are