New Electric Car Battery Could Double Capacity and Halve Cost

Illustration for article titled New Electric Car Battery Could Double Capacity and Halve Cost

Well, this is an exciting bit of news for green drivers. Envia Systems has come up with a new battery technology that could give a $20,000 electric car a range of 300 miles to a charge. Yes, please?

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The General Motors-backed Envia Systems has come up with a new process that creates a battery with an energy density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram. To put that in perspective, the lithium cells found in most electric cars today only pack about 100-150 Wh/kg. Even the batteries on Tesla's forthcoming Model S only pack in around 240Wh/kg. In terms of cost, when it was first produced, the Nissan Leaf's battery cost around $375 per kilowatt-hour. The Envia battery is projected to cost just $125 per kilowatt-hour.

The new magic comes from combining a "High Capacity Manganese Rich (HCMR)" cathode and a silicon-carbon nanocomposite anode, and then passing the lithium ions though a new, secret electrolyte formula (Powerade? Probably Powerade) that allows for increased voltage.

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All of this isn't just lofty PR claims; they have already been independently tested by the Electrochemical Power Systems Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center. So that's the good news. The bad news: they aren't likely to be commercialized and available to Terry T. Public until 2015. I know, I know, I want it now, too. But at least these sorts of breakthroughs are being made. The high-cost and low capacity of batteries is one of the major impediments to adoption of electric cars. The idea that these problems will be greatly reduced within the next few years is a very, very good thing. [AutoblogGreen via Engadget]

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DISCUSSION

I appreciate the improvement of the technology - there are thousands of ways that better batteries will help us all. However, for automobiles it still has a fatal flaw: Occasionally we need to drive longer than the mileage limit. Unless you can swap the battery pack (there are places in the world testing this) or can charge it to 80% capacity in less than 15 minutes - most Americans will not switch.

We have the technology for greener transportation: Hydrogen. Honda is producing such a vehicle for testing in California and, as you might guess, it is just like driving any other Honda (for better and worse). You can fill it at any station providing hydrogen and go along driving ~300 miles (or whatever it is) until you need to fill up again. If hydrogen fueling stations were available along major highways throughout America then automakers could start introducing the vehicles everywhere.

There are multiple ways to produce hydrogen including through natural gas, of which our country has become the largest producer in the world. It is not "emission free" (nothing is) but it is far more efficient and better for the environment than oil and would allow us to disconnect from the Middle East. Yes, Honda's vehicle costs a fortune - but so did (do?) electric cars and their price is steadily decreasing. If this went into mass production there is no reason the scale would not dramatically change the pricing of these vehicles over time.

Anyway .. Stepping off the Giz soap box now. Thanks for reading.