Electric vehicle (EV) batteries are still being studied to make them safer, have more energy, take less time to charge, and last longer. Some of the latest developments in EV battery research are:
Solid-state batteries are a promising alternative to traditional lithium-ion batteries, as they offer higher energy density and faster charging times. Researchers are working on improving the performance and durability of solid-state batteries, as well as finding ways to mass-produce them at lower costs. Researchers at Toyota and other companies are currently developing solid-state batteries for use in EVs. Also, in January 2021, QuantumScape, a California-based start-up, announced that its solid-state battery technology had achieved a range of over 800 km (500 miles) on a single charge.
Silicon has the potential to replace graphite as the anode material in lithium-ion batteries, as it can store more lithium ions per unit volume. However, silicon anodes tend to expand and contract during charging and discharging, which can cause them to crack and degrade over time. Researchers are working on developing new techniques to stabilize silicon anodes and improve their performance and durability.
Lithium-sulfur batteries are being investigated as an alternative to traditional lithium-ion batteries. These batteries have the potential to offer higher energy density at a lower cost and with a lower environmental impact. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have recently developed a lithium-sulfur battery that can cycle more than 1,000 times while retaining 85% of its capacity.
Sodium-ion batteries are being studied as a potential low-cost alternative to lithium-ion batteries. While sodium-ion batteries have a lower energy density than lithium-ion batteries, they could be suitable for stationary energy storage applications.
Recycling and reuse
As the demand for EVs increases, there is a growing need for recycling and reusing the batteries that power them. Researchers are exploring new ways to recycle and reuse battery materials, such as by recovering valuable metals like cobalt, nickel, and lithium. Recycling and reusing batteries can help reduce the environmental impact of EV production and disposal. One recent study found that recycling lithium-ion batteries could reduce the demand for raw materials by up to 55% by 2050.
Battery management systems
Battery management systems (BMS) are critical components of EV batteries. They help monitor and control the charging and discharging of the battery, which can help extend its lifespan. Researchers are developing more advanced BMS that can provide real-time monitoring and more accurate predictions of battery performance. Some are listed below.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)-based BMS: AI-based BMS uses machine learning algorithms to optimize battery performance, predict battery life, and prevent battery failure. This technology allows for more accurate and efficient battery management, reducing the risk of battery damage and extending battery lifespan.
Wireless BMS: Wireless BMS technology allows for wireless communication between battery cells and the central BMS unit. This allows for better monitoring and control of battery performance, as well as easier integration with other systems.
Predictive maintenance: Predictive maintenance is a BMS technology that uses real-time data to predict when a battery will fail. This allows for more efficient maintenance and replacement of batteries, reducing downtime and improving the overall reliability of the battery system.
Thermal management: Thermal management is an important aspect of BMS technology that helps regulate battery temperature to prevent overheating or underheating. Recent advances in thermal management have included new cooling and heating systems that allow for more precise temperature control, reducing the risk of battery damage and improving battery performance.
Researchers are also exploring new materials for use in EV batteries, such as sodium-ion and zinc-air batteries. Sodium-ion batteries are cheaper and more abundant than lithium-ion batteries, while zinc-air batteries offer high energy density and a long cycle life. For example, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin have developed a new type of cathode material that could significantly improve the energy density and performance of lithium-ion batteries.
Also, silicon has the potential to offer a higher energy density than graphite, which is currently used in the anodes of lithium-ion batteries. However, silicon tends to expand and contract during charging and discharging, which can damage the battery. Scientists at the University of California, San Diego, have developed a technique to mitigate this issue by using nanowires made of silicon.
New ways of making things, like 3D printing and machine learning, are being used to make battery production more efficient and cheaper.
Flow batteries, which use liquid electrolytes stored in external tanks, are being explored as a potential alternative to traditional lithium-ion batteries, particularly for grid-scale energy storage applications.
Overall, there is a lot of ongoing research in EV battery technology aimed at improving performance, durability, and sustainability. These advancements will help make EVs more accessible and affordable and reduce their environmental impact.