The recent Arctic explosions in the United States left some electric vehicle (EV) owners in a bind.
Rapidly draining batteries, slow charging, long lines and cars being towed after running out of power were reported from Illinois and Michigan to Texas.
Freezing temperatures are not good for EV battery life; Nor are they, of course, for gasoline-powered cars, which break down more frequently in freezing conditions. New research from a Norwegian assistance service revealed that electric cars fail less in extreme cold conditions than vehicles powered by fossil fuels.
However, concerns about the range and longevity of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles remain a sticking point for sales.
An Ipsos study last year found that, along with cost, the obstacle for many people when purchasing an electric vehicle was concerns about the lack of charging stations and battery life.
The findings point to a problem in US climate plans. More than a quarter of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions They come from transportation, and to that end, the Biden administration aims for at least half of new vehicle sales to be electric by 2030. Electric vehicles currently make up about 9 percent of new vehicle sales in the U.S. . according to industry tracker EV Hub.
But a recent breakthrough from a team of scientists at Harvard University could help overcome these obstacles. Researchers from the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) reported earlier this month that they have developed a new “solid-state” battery that can be charged in the time it takes to fill a tank of gasoline, and repeated at least 6,000 times. .
At the moment, electric vehicles, laptops, and other electronic devices that need energy storage generally use lithium-ion batteries in a flat, compact “pouch cell” design.
But the power of lithium-ion batteries, as has been shown, can only reach larger machines to a certain extent. There has also been evidence that these types of batteries catch fire.
Last June, Four people died after lithium-ion battery caught fire in an electric bike shop in New York and spread to the apartments above. In December, a fire broke out on a cargo ship carrying nearly 2,000 tons of lithium-ion batteries off the coast of Alaska.
The race to develop solid-state batteries has intensified in recent years as the technology is seen as essential to driving a nationwide shift from gasoline to electric cars. Companies like Volkswagen and Toyota have been working on their own solid-state batteries, with the goal of incorporating them into vehicles by the end of the decade.
Dr. Xin Li, an associate professor of materials science at Harvard, described solid-state batteries as “the holy grail.”
While they look like lithium-ion models on the outside, solid-state batteries replace liquid organic electrolyte with a material like a high-tech ceramic.
“This conducts better than liquid and is non-flammable, so it is safer,” said Dr. Xin Li. The independent.
The Harvard team’s postage-stamp-sized battery retained 80 percent of its capacity after 6,000 cycles and showed good performance at low temperatures.
It outperforms other solid-state batteries on the market today, scientists said, after discovering a new way to make them with a lithium metal anode, which has ten times the capacity of typical commercial graphite anodes.
With their new multilayer, multimaterial design, the Harvard scientists were able to overcome the major challenge of “dendrites,” root-like structures that grow from the surface of the anode into the electrolyte and can pierce the barrier separating the opposing cathode. causing the battery to short circuit or, worse yet, catch fire.
The long battery life (equivalent to 30 years) could dramatically reduce the cost of an electric vehicle.
“If the consumer spends less money to buy an electric vehicle, that will really drive global electrification,” Dr. Li said.
The ability to charge the battery in a matter of minutes also means that it has a very high power density, increasing the possibilities of its use.
“These are not just electric vehicles, they could also be electric airplanes that need a lot of energy to take off,” he added.
Dr. Li began working seriously on solid-state batteries when he started at Harvard in 2015, after working at MIT, Cal Tech, Penn State, and Nanjing University in China. “I had several dozen projects in parallel, but after a couple of years I realized the potential of solid-state batteries and focused more on them,” he said.
In 2021, he and his Harvard colleagues created a company, Adden Energy, to license and scale the technology. An American car company has already tested its solid-state battery and found it had the same positive results as its internal tests, Dr. Li said.
“Some other car companies are in the process of testing our batteries,” he added.
The US government’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act has dedicated $6 billion to developing the domestic battery materials, manufacturing and storage industry as the world rapidly transitions from fossil fuels to electrification.