Building a Better Car Battery — NYTimes.com

29 Мар 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
Toyota Alessandro Volta

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While watchers may debate how quickly will make the transition to vehicles. they generally this transition will big improvements to the batteries that these cars.

Even the House agrees, acknowledging in a blog post. “The of affordable, highly functional has been a particularly high to the widespread adoption of electric


In the near term, reducing the of the battery and with it, the price of the will come mostly better manufacturing techniques and more batteries. Improving and range will largely be the of researchers and scientists.

The Italian Alessandro Volta built the battery in 1800. Volta a container with alternating of zinc and copper plates, and each pair with a disk soaked in salt His battery produced a steady of electrical current through a reaction that forced the disk (negative anode) to an electron and the copper disk cathode) to catch it.

Today’s electric car batteries no resemble Volta’s container, but work on the same basic And two centuries of gradual improvements in the chemistry, design and materials led to the lithium -based battery relies on a lithium ion to shuttle and forth from the anode and

Simply put, the lithium-ion offers a higher energy than other previous systems, according to Venkat manager of the Battery for Automotive Technologies Program. an Energy program managed by Lawrence National Laboratory at the University of Berkeley .

Compared with the hydride battery used in the Prius. for example, a lithium-ion of the same weight and volume increase energy density two to times, said Dr. Srinivasan.

All the available with electricity as primary power source, the Nissan Leaf or Chevy use some form of lithium-ion in their batteries. And these will be prevalent for at least the decade or two with plenty of for innovation, said Jeffrey P. head of the Electrochemical Energy group at the Argonne National a lab near Chicago sponsored by the Department.

Lithium is blended with materials in the battery’s cathode. The used dictate the voltage of the and the amount of lithium the cathode can raising both increases density, said Dr. Srinivasan.

At researchers are working with new of nickel, manganese and cobalt for the Blending these in varying and assembling them in different has been shown to double the energy capacity. Argonne has to license patents for this to different battery makers. The Mr. Chamberlain said, would be “that squeeze more into a smaller package, are expensive to make and last

Similarly, researchers at Argonne and are experimenting with silicon for the replacing the carbon anode used today. During the cycle, the anode collects ions, then releases during discharge when the is providing power to the electric A pure silicon anode has the potential to increase the amount of it can hold tenfold.

Toyota Alessandro Volta

But efforts to reach this have been thwarted by tendency to expand as it collects the ions. So researchers are blending with materials like looking for a balance that solve the physical challenges but increase energy density, Mr. Chamberlain.

Even as these new move from the lab to the production in coming decade, in the near most cost reductions for the pack will come lowering manufacturing costs, to Alex A. Molinaroli, president of the Solutions group at Johnson a company building lithium-ion for BMW. Daimler and Ford .

Because lithium-ion is a relatively new for powering cars, “it take time to understand how batteries will perform years of use,” said Mr. And because the electric car battery is now of the drive train, “these have much higher and durability requirements compared to starter batteries or the battery in laptop,” he said.

Lacking of road-test data from electric cars, manufacturers overbuild the batteries, adding in and safety features to ensure meet the demands of the drive-train said Mr. Molinaroli. He estimated this overcompensation accounts for 50 of the material used in the current packs. A common measure of the energy density is the number of of electricity it can produce given its

With the battery the costliest of the car, automakers tend to be about actual prices, it competitive information. Even so, Omotoso, an automotive power forecaster for J. D. Power Associates. today’s cost at around to $800 per kilowatt-hour. For electric to achieve parity with cars, from a cost most analysts estimate battery cost must closer to $200 per kilowatt-hour.

At Johnson Controls. the company price parity when costs achieve $200 per combined with gasoline that are consistently at or above $4 a Once you get to these levels, have a good business and as energy prices go up, this a much more relevant said Mary Ann Wright, president for global technology and in the company’s Power Solutions

Ms. Wright further estimates this parity point is a away, but offers two caveats. have to consider that the engine will also more fuel-efficient during time,” she said. “This is not standing still.” And parity be considered as the total cost of over the life of the car. while the sticker price may be higher, the electric vehicle be less expensive to maintain and over the life of the car compared to a car,” she said.

Alessandro Volta’s invention him a royal title and a place on the note, and set the stage for the modern age. As continuing improvements electric cars to match and performance with their competitors, the impact could be no profound.

Toyota Alessandro Volta
Toyota Alessandro Volta
Toyota Alessandro Volta

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