Tuesday, March 24, 2015

VW Invests in Solid-State “All Electron Battery”

Winterkorn said in November that he sees “great potential” in the new power-storage technology, which may expand an electric vehicle’s driving distance between recharges to as much as 700 kilometers. That’s more than three times the range of the battery-powered version of the VW Golf. (Credit: Gianluca Colla/Bloomberg) Click to Enlarge.
Bloomberg recently reported that the Volkswagen Group has made an investment in QuantumScape, a Silicon Valley stealth startup commercializing a novel solid-state energy storage technology—the “All-Electron Battery” (AEB), originally developed at Stanford and supported by the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) ARPA-E BEEST program (earlier post), as noted by Katie Fehrenbacher at GigaOM.

Volkswagen executives have been hinting for awhile now about taking a different approach to high-energy-density electrical storage for long-range electric vehicles than the more “conventional” next-generation Li-ion or Li-metal battery pathways.  Volkswagen at this point is steadfastly returning official “No comments” to questions here in the US and in Germany about the veracity of the Bloomberg report.  However, if the Group has indeed taken a position in QuantumScape with the intention of supporting the development of the AEB for vehicle applications, that would certainly qualify as “a different approach.”  In the AEB, energy storage is via the movement of electrons in bulk rather than ions (as in Li-ion batteries) and uses electron/hole redox instead of capacitive polarization of a double-layer (e.g., conventional capacitors).

The “All Electron Battery” the Stanford engineering team set out to develop represented “a completely new class of electrical energy storage devices for electric vehicles that has the potential to provide ultra-high energy and power densities, while enabling extremely high cycle life.”

Electrons are lighter and faster than the ion charge carriers in conventional Li-ion batteries. Because the technology relies on electrical energy stored as electrons rather than ions, small and light devices with high storage capacities are possible.  Furthermore, electron transport allows for fast charge and discharge.

Further, the technology uses a novel architecture that has potential for very high energy density because it decouples the two functions of capacitors: charge separation and breakdown strength.  This increases both the life of the battery and the amount of energy it can store.  The battery could be charged 1000s of times without showing a significant drop in performance.

Read more at Report: VW invests in novel energy storage company QuantumScape and its solid-state “All Electron Battery”

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