New 500-Mile EV Batteries
Among the many reasons that today’s car buyers are pondering purchasing a new all-electric vehicle are the facts that EVs utilize the latest technology, are very easy to use, and drivers like the fact that they’ll never have to stop at a gas station again. After all, we all have homes plumbed for electricity. More Americans than ever are embracing the zero-emissions future and EV adoption is catching on fast.
However, one of the things that people are concerned about is EV range. Well, that’s about to change as there is a lot going on with battery pack design. In fact, new technology is on the way that could deliver batteries that can take you 500 miles or more on a charge.
Lithium-Metal Batteries Are Coming
No less an American auto icon than General Motors is spending a great deal of time and money to research lithium-metal battery chemistry in order to increase range and lower the costs of electric cars. GM recently announced that it will move from lithium-ion to the new lithium-metal technology as its next-generation battery packs for everything from the Chevy Bolt to the new Cadillac Lyriq.
GM is entering into a partnership with SolidEnergy Systems (SES) to develop the new battery platform. The automaker has been an investor in SES since 2015 and plans on building the new batteries at its plant in Woburn, Massachusetts. Production will begin in 2023.
GM reports that lithium-metal chemistry will offer greater energy density than today’s batteries and that means smaller and lighter battery packs as well as significantly greater range. Predicted range on a single charge will be 500 to 600 miles and an 80 percent charge will take less than 15 minutes.
All of the major auto industry players are looking for a battery breakthrough to give customers greater range and lower costs. One such giant is Volkswagen that is also hitching its wagon to the lithium-metal future. Along with its battery partner QuantumScape, VW claims its ceramic-electrolyte cells are safer, lighter, charge faster and are capable of 500 miles on a charge.
What About Solid State Batteries?
Looking well past the current use of lithium-ion and the projected use of lithium-metal batteries, the long game will be played with solid-state batteries. This technology is being heralded as the answer to many issues surrounding battery use in EVs.
Solid-state technology allows for much greater energy density, which produces greater range. The problem has been that solid-state batteries are currently extremely expensive to produce and have suffered from a higher failure rate after repeated charging.
But the engineers at the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT) may have an answer to these solid-state conundrums. They have replaced the lithium-metal anodes used in solid-state batteries that are causing the high failure rates and have replaced them with a thin layer of silver-carbon.
It seems that those lithium-metal anodes grow tiny crystal spikes known as dendrites that bore through the electrolyte in solid-state batteries and cause them to eventually short circuit during charging. Researchers at Samsung say that using silver-carbon gives you a battery that has higher capacity, lasts longer, and it makes the battery safer.
These new solid-state battery packs will allow EVs to have a range of over 500 miles and will last for over 1,000 recharges. That means electric cars with batteries that will last at least 500,000 miles! Another added plus is that solid-state battery packs are about 50 percent smaller than today’s lithium-ion batteries used in EVs.
Solid-state technology is said to still be several years away before you’ll see it used on electric vehicles in showrooms, but other companies are pushing ahead with amazing innovations for lithium-metal batteries.
Ten Minute Electric Vehicle Charging
Speaking of, South Korean battery supplier SK Innovation recently revealed that it is developing battery cells that only need two, ten minute charges to cover 500 miles of EV range. The company hopes to complete development of its new “ten-minute charge” batteries in 2022.
The company is also in the process of building a two-factory complex in Georgia that will supply battery packs for up to 300,000 electric vehicles per year. These will include battery packs for the VW ID.4 SUV and the Ford F-150 Lightning all-electric pickup.
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