Understanding Next-Generation High Energy Vehicular Battery Storage
Increasing battery range and reducing battery costs can help make electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) a more attractive option for consumers. While millions of cars are sold in the United States each year, only a small fraction of them are EVs and PHEVs. The main barriers preventing mass adoption are high cost compared to traditional internal-combustion (IC) vehicles and so-called "range anxiety," from the limited miles available per charge. While adding more batteries to a vehicle can extend its range, it can also make the vehicle heavier and more expensive, to the point where it cannot compete with the IC engine cars in the market. Thus, reducing battery cost and increasing battery performance is critical for the mass market adoption of electric vehicles.
Envia Systems believes the most promising avenues for dramatically improving battery performance focus on using advanced high-specific-capacity materials to increase energy density and reduce overall costs. However, the phase transformations in the electroactive materials upon electrochemical cycling are not well understood. Subtle changes to the chemical structure may negatively impact the battery performance. In order to study these changes, and develop higher energy and cheaper vehicle batteries, researchers need powerful scientific instruments such as electron microscopes and advanced spectroscopy equipment. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has these facilities as well as the in-house expertise required to critically analyze the data and draw meaningful conclusions.
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Envia Systems has demonstrated prototype lithium-ion batteries achieving an energy density of 400 Wh/kg, nearly double what industry leaders are achieving today with standard lithium-ion batteries. These batteries utilize manganese-rich cathodes and silicon-based anodes, which could be much cheaper than the high-capacity cathodes that are commercially available today. Precise understanding of the electroactive cathode and anode material properties will be critical in enabling the technology.
Reducing battery costs has benefits for consumers and businesses across multiple industries, including transportation, consumer electronics and utilities. Technological advances can also open up more avenues for commercializing, manufacturing and marketing new types of batteries.
Vehicle electrification can eliminate tailpipe emissions, and as the electricity grid becomes cleaner, partially and fully electric vehicles will continue to out-perform gasoline-powered cars and trucks in terms of reducing pollution and curbing climate change. This is especially important because the transportation sector produces more than a quarter of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing oil consumption makes the United States less reliant on oil imports, less vulnerable to oil price spikes and more energy independent.
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