New Thermally Modulated Battery for Mass-Market Electric Vehicles

According to Penn State engineers, range anxiety, or the anxiety of running out of power before an electric vehicle can be recharged, might be completely overcome with novel lithium iron phosphate batteries that have a range of 250 miles with the potential to charge in 10 minutes.

A thermally modulated battery for mass-market electric vehicles without range anxiety and with unsurpassed safety, low cost, and containing no cobalt, is being developed by a team of Penn State engineers. Image Credit: Chao-Yang Wang’s Lab, Penn State.

We developed a pretty clever battery for mass-market electric vehicles with cost parity with combustion engine vehicles. There is no more range anxiety and this battery is affordable.

Chao-Yang Wang, William E. Diefenderfer Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Electrochemical Engine Center, Penn State

Wang is also a professor of chemical engineering and professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State. The team also added that the battery could run without any problems for two million miles in its lifespan.

The study results were published recently in the Nature Energy journal. It explains that the crucial aspect for long life and quick recharging is the battery’s potential to rapidly heat up to 140 °F, for charge and discharge, and further cool down when the battery is not functioning.

The very fast charge allows us to downsize the battery without incurring range anxiety.

Chao-Yang Wang, William E. Diefenderfer Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Electrochemical Engine Center, Penn State

The battery is based on a self-heating method that was earlier developed in Wang’s center. The self-heating battery includes a thin nickel foil, one end of which is fixed to the negative terminal and the other end stretches outside the cell to develop a third terminal.

As soon as the electrons start flowing, the battery quickly heats the nickel foil via resistance heating and warms the battery’s inner part. Once the battery reaches the internal temperature of 140 °F, the switch gets opened and the battery is all set for either quick charge or discharge.

The research team led by Wang modeled the battery with the help of innovative methods and present technologies. They indicate that this self-heating technique can help utilize inexpensive materials for the battery’s anode and cathode, as well as a safe, low-voltage electrolyte.

Thermally stable lithium iron phosphate is used as the cathode and does not contain any of the costly and crucial materials such as cobalt. The anode is developed using very huge particle graphite, which is a light, safe, and affordable material.

Due to self-heating, the team stated that they do not have to be concerned about the non-uniform deposition of lithium on the anode, which can result in hazardous lithium spikes.

This battery has reduced weight, volume and cost. I am very happy that we finally found a battery that will benefit the mainstream consumer mass market.

Chao-Yang Wang, William E. Diefenderfer Chair of Mechanical Engineering and Director of Electrochemical Engine Center, Penn State

Wang notes that these smaller batteries have the ability to generate a huge amount of power upon heating—40 kWh and 300 kW of power. An electric vehicle with this battery can go from zero to 60 mph within 3 seconds and would drive similar to a Porsche, added Wang.

Wang further noted that “This is how we are going to change the environment and not contribute to just the luxury cars. Let everyone afford electric vehicles.”

Other scientists from Penn State who worked on this project were Xiao-Guang Yang, an assistant research professor of mechanical engineering, and Teng Liu, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering.

This study was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the William E Diefenderfer Endowment.

Source: https://www.psu.edu/

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