The Truth About Cars » ev batteries The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 16:58:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » ev batteries Are Graphene Micro-Supercapacitors An EV Gamechanger? Mon, 25 Feb 2013 13:30:29 +0000 Micro-supercapacitor-prv UCLA Photo

Energy density isn’t the only reason why battery-powered cars have never caught on. As was highlighted in Tesla’s somewhat less than successful media road trip, the amount of time it takes to fill batteries with electrons can be as significant a factor in the practicality of EVs as the amount of electrons those batteries can hold.

That’s one of the reasons why high power capacitors, also known as supercapacitors or ultracapacitors, have held promise – caps can charge and discharge very quickly. That promise, though, has been held back by the old bugaboo of energy density. Capacitors unfortunately have limited capacity. Researchers at UCLA who had previously announced the almost accidental discovery of a simple and inexpensive method of creating graphene sheets, which have ideal properties for fabricating ultracapacitors, have now published the results of their further research, demonstrating a scalable process for fabricating flexible graphene micro-supercapacitors that have some of the highest energy densities achieved yet for such capacitors.


Click here to view the embedded video.

The team, led by Richard Kaner, is developing the devices out of one of those fortuitous discoveries that expands the frontiers of science, like penicillin or nylon. Maher El-Kady, of Kaner’s lab, had invented an elegantly simple and inexpensive method of making graphene, a single atom thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in that hexagonal latice that C loves so well. He poured out a layer of graphite oxide solution on a plastic substrate and then exposed it to laser light. The process wasn’t the most clever thing about El-Kaner’s discovery, it was the equipment that he used. El-Kaner’s substrates were DVDs and he used a standard consumer grade LightScribe DVD burner for the laser. Refining the process, the team has now figured out a way to embed electrodes into the graphene, which is formulated over a flexible film, and they claim energy density comparable to current thin-film lithium ion batteries.

Often “scalable” means scaling up, but Kaner and El-Kady discovered that scaling down has advantanges. Miniaturizing the devices enhances charge storage capacity and charge/discharge rate and it also allowed them to produce more than 100 micro-supercapacitors on a single disc in 30 min or less. The flexible substrate allows for packaging options and the size means that they can be mounted on the back of solar cells or other chips.

As is always the case with potential energy gamechangers, the research team is looking for partners to produce their invention in industrial quantities. While the initial applications will likely not be for transportation, any development concerning electrical storage that combines enhanced energy density, faster charge/discharge rates, and lightweight miniaturization is bound to attract attention from the EV crowd.

UCLA press release here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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More Details On Explosion at GM Tech Center: Gases from Experimental Battery Ignited Thu, 12 Apr 2012 11:31:45 +0000

More details have been released about the explosion at a GM Tech Center battery lab yesterday that left one person hospitalized with chemical burns and a possible concussion. In a statement, GM said that while an “experimental battery” was undergoing “extreme testing”, gases were released from the battery cells. Something in the lab then ignited the gases and the subsequent explosion was severe enough to cause structural damage, blowing out windows and forcing open fortified doors. The battery itself was left intact. The Detroit News, according to an unnamed source, reports that prototype lithium-ion battery was made by A123, and that explosion happened during “intensive tests designed to make it fail”. The Warren, Michigan fire commissioner said that the lab was designed with safety in mind so damage was confined to the one laboratory. Though some of the 80 workers in the building were sent home for the day after the explosion, others continued to work. The 63,000 sq ft Global Battery Systems Lab has 176 test cells as well as 49 thermal chambers, where GM tests both production and prototype batteries. A HAZMAT team was dispatched to the facility, as were OSHA and MIOSHA inspectors, because of the injuries.

GM stressed that the incident was not related to the Chevrolet Volt or any other production vehicle. Since the electric version of the Chevy Spark won’t go into production until next year, the battery involved in the explosion might be a developmental version of the batteries A123 will be supplying for that project. It also might be a completely experimental prototype.

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Major Study Confirms EV Batteries Too Expensive; Predicts 26% Of New Cars Will Be Hybrids Or EVs In 2020 Mon, 11 Jan 2010 02:48:46 +0000 lemmon_battery_labels

A major study by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) has determined that even if EV battery costs drop by a projected 65% by 2020, the economics will still constrain their widespread adoption. It challenges the industry assumption that a $250 per kWh cost for automotive batteries can be achieved by that date. Nevertheless, the report projects that hybrids, plug-ins and pure EVs will make up 26% of new cars sold in major developed markets. Specifically, the study projects 1.5 million EVs, 1.5 million range-extending EVs, and 11 million hybrids produced in 2020. Regarding the manufacturer’s holy grail of $250/kWh batteries:

Given current technology options, we see substantial challenges to achieving this goal by 2020. For years, people have been saying that one of the keys to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels is the electrification of the vehicle fleet. The reality is, electric-car batteries are both too expensive and too technologically limited for this to happen in the foreseeable future.

—Xavier Mosquet, Detroit-based leader of BCG’s global automotive practice and a coauthor of the study

The study takes on the expectations that current EV technology with its range and cost limitations can effectively replace the IC powered car head on,and strongly suggests that EVs will be limited primarily to specific applications:

Without a major breakthrough in battery technologies, fully electric vehicles that are as convenient as ICE-based cars—meaning that they can travel 500 kilometers (312 miles) on a single charge and can recharge in a matter of minutes—are unlikely to be available for the mass market by 2020. In view of the need for a pervasive infrastructure for charging or swapping batteries, the adoption of fully electric vehicles in 2020 may be limited to specific applications such as commercial fleets, commuter cars, and cars that are confined to a prescribed range of use.

—BCG Report

Regarding the possibility of new technologies to dramatically bring down the cost or increase the capacities of batteries, the study put a dampening slant on the likelihood of new battery chemistry being available before the 2020 date: “because none of the players we interviewed expect that batteries based on new chemistries will be available for production on a significant scale by 2020.”

The study envisions costs for a 15-kWh NCA range-extender pack (similar to the Volt’s size pack, but smaller than the Leaf’s) would fall from around $16,000 to about $6,000. The price to consumers will similarly fall, from $1,400–$1,800 per kWh to $570–$700 per kWh—or $8,000–$10,000 for the same pack.

Even in 2020, consumers will find this price of $8,000 to $10,000 to be a significant part of the vehicle’s overall cost. They will carefully evaluate the cost savings of driving an electric car versus an ICE-based car against the higher up-front cost. It will be a complex purchase decision involving an evaluation of operating costs, carbon benefits, and potential range limitations, as well as product features.

—Massimo Russo, a Boston-based partner and coauthor of the report

The study also takes on the big question as to how the rapidly emerging and developing battery industry will shake out:

The electric-vehicle and lithium-ion battery businesses hold the promise of large potential profit pools for both incumbents and new players; however, investing in these technologies entails substantial risks. It is unclear whether incumbent OEMs and battery manufacturers or new entrants will emerge as winners as the industry matures.

As it stands today, the stage is set for a shakeout among the various battery chemistries, power-train technologies, business models, and even regions. OEMs, suppliers, power companies, and governments will need to work together to establish the right conditions for a large, viable electric-vehicle market to emerge. The stakes are very high.

—BCG report

Our take? This study confirms the three main expectations and predictions we have had for EVs for some time: 1.) They are coming, and in fairly considerable numbers due to the rush by manufacturers to not be left behind and government subsidies; 2.) their batteries will present serious economic challenges to sellers and buyers; and 3.) “conventional” (non-plug-in) hybrids will still be the overwhelming choice of the whole category. And of course, IC-powered cars will still dominate the market.

This study also supports our contention that the most effective EVs in the foreseeable future will be smallish city-oriented vehicles like the Th!nk that don’t require large batteries or create the expectations of longer highway range that can’t be fulfilled.

[Green Car Congress]

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