Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Stanford Foresees $25,000 EV, 300-Mile Battery Range with New Honeycomb Battery

Honeycomb (cropped) by prilfish. Click to enlarge.
A research team from the Stanford School of Engineering has just figured out how to stabilize the lithium in a lithium-ion battery, and that could help bring the typical EV down to the level of mainstream affordability.  The team is looking at a price point of $25,000 for an EV battery range of 300 miles, which would be competitive with a 40 mpg gasmobile.

The dream of extending EV battery range usually comes with a high price tag, so the idea that longer range could actually bring down costs is of particular interest, especially considering that former Energy Secretary Steven Chu is a member of that Stanford research team.

Now that Chu is back at his former position with Stanford Engineering, he has joined with research team leader Yi Cui and lead author Guangyuan Zheng in a paper published online Sunday in Nature Nanotechnology, titled Interconnected hollow carbon nanospheres for stable lithium metal anodes, which zeroes in on the dendrite problem.

Dendrites refers to those hairy mossy fibers that can grow out of your Li-ion battery over time. They are associated with decreased efficiency as well as safety risks.  Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory offer a good rundown (break added for clarity):
Over the course of several battery charge/discharge cycles, particularly when the battery is cycled at a fast rate, microscopic fibers of lithium, called “dendrites,” sprout from the surface of the lithium electrode and spread like kudzu across the electrolyte until they reach the other electrode.

An electrical current passing through these dendrites can short-circuit the battery, causing it to rapidly overheat and in some instances catch fire.

Stanford Foresees $25,000 EV, 300-Mile Battery Range with New Honeycomb Battery

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