Recent EV battery News. (1 Viewer)

Feb 9, 2008
Corby, Northants
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Coach Built
Since 2007


he Argonne National Laboratory in the US has essentially cracked the battery technology for electric vehicles, discovering a way to raise the future driving range of standard EVs to a thousand miles or more. It promises to do so cheaply without exhausting the global supply of critical minerals in the process.
The joint project with the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) has achieved a radical jump in the energy density of battery cells. The typical lithium-ion battery used in the car industry today stores about 200 watt-hours per kilo (Wh/kg). Their lab experiment has already reached 675 Wh/kg with a lithium-air variant.
This is a high enough density to power trucks, trains, and arguably mid-haul aircraft, long thought to be beyond the reach of electrification. The team believes it can reach 1,200 Wh/kg. If so, almost all global transport can be decarbonised more easily than we thought, and probably at a negative net cost compared to continuation of the hydrocarbon status quo.
The Argonne Laboratory in Chicago is not alone in pushing the boundaries of energy storage and EV technology. The specialist press reports eye-watering breakthroughs almost every month. America, Europe, China and Japan are all in a feverish global race for battery dominance – or survival – and hedge funds are swarming over the field.
I highlight this paper because US national labs have AAA credibility. The study is peer-reviewed and has just appeared in the research journal Science. Their solid-state battery has achieved the highest energy density yet seen anywhere in the world. And sometimes you have to pick on one to tell a larger story.
The science paper says the process can “theoretically deliver an energy density that is comparable to that of gasoline”, a remarkable thought that slays some stubborn shibboleths. It is not for today, but it is not for the remote future either. It typically takes five or so breakthroughs of this kind in battery technology to reach manufacturing.

Professor Larry Curtiss, the project leader, told me that his battery needs no cobalt. That eliminates reliance on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which accounts for 74pc of the world’s production and has become a Chinese economic colony for the extraction of raw materials.
Beijing has already gained a lockhold on the supply chain through ownership or control over three quarters of the DRC’s major cobalt mines. Russia is the world’s third. It is planning to raise that share by tearing up the marine bed off the Pacific coast.
Reports by the United Nations and activist groups leave no doubt that cobalt mining in the DRC is an ecological and human disaster, with some 40,000 children working for a pittance in toxic conditions for small ‘artisanal’ mines. It has become a byword for North-South exploitation.
Needless to say, the horrors of the cobalt supply chain have been seized on by fossil “realists” (i.e. vested interests) and Putin’s cyber-bots to impugn the moral claims of the green energy transition. The Argonne-IIF technology should make it harder to sustain that line of attack.
Prof Curtiss said the current prototype is based on lithium but does not have to be. “The same type of battery could be developed with sodium. It will take more time, but can be done,” he said. Switching to sodium would halve the driving range but it would still be double today’s generation of batteries.
Sodium is ubiquitous. There are deposits in Dorset, Cheshire, or Ulster. The US and Canada have vast salt lakes. Sodium can be produced cheaply from seawater in hot regions via evaporation. There is no supply constraint.

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