Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Researchers Innovate to Increase EV Drive Time

Popular
Researchers Innovate to Increase EV Drive Time

Transportation is now the number one contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, as EcoWatch reported in December. That's why it's good news that researchers revealed this week that they are making headway in developing innovations that would increase the amount of time electric vehicles spend on the road before having to be recharged.


Researched published Monday in Advanced Materials by the Department of Energy's (DOE) Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) demonstrated a battery that could recharge seven times more than other batteries and double the miles an electric car can cover before having to be recharged.

And a press release issued by the University of Colorado (CU) Boulder on Tuesday reported that engineers there are working on technology that would allow cars to charge wirelessly as they drive over special plates installed in the road.

The PNNL study looked specifically at the problem of lithium-metal batteries. These are considered the "'holy grail' of energy storage systems," the PNNL press release said, because they have two-to-three times the battery storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries and can therefore enable a car to travel more than two times as far on a single charge.

According to the DOE, the majority of hybrid-electric and electric vehicles on the roads right now use lithium-ion batteries, like the ones that also power cell-phones and computers.

As Greentech Media explained, a battery has positive and negative electrodes. When charging or discharging, the electrodes exchange negative and positive ions through an electrolyte solution. Lithium-ion batteries use graphite for the negative electrode, while lithium-metal batteries use lithium, which can store more energy.

However, the electrolyte solution in lithium-metal batteries tends to corrode the electrodes. Adding more lithium salt to the electrolyte solution helps preserve the life of the battery, but also reduces conductivity. It is also expensive.

DOE researchers at PNNL were able to devise an electrolyte that struck the right salt balance to devise batteries that could recharge seven more times than standard models.

"We were trying to preserve the advantage of the high concentration of salt, but offset the disadvantages," PNNL senior battery researcher Ji-Guang "Jason" Zhang said in the release. "By combining a fluorine-based solvent to dilute the high concentration electrolyte, our team was able to significantly lower the total lithium salt concentration yet keep its benefits."

The technology isn't ready for the road yet. The batteries they first tested the fluid in were the size of watch batteries, and the next step is to test the electrolyte in a cell-phone sized battery.

Engineers at CU Boulder are also working on a promising technology that needs more time to develop.

Khurram Afridi and his colleagues at CU Boulder's Department of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering have devised a proof of concept for wirelessly transferring electrical energy through electrical energy fields at high frequencies. Afridi told CU Boulder the technology could be used to allow electric cars, which can now only travel 100 to 250 miles before recharging, to charge on the go.

"On a highway, you could have one lane dedicated to charging," Afridi said

Afridi has modeled this in the lab by setting up two metal plates representing roadway chargers 12 centimeters (approximately 4.7 inches) below two metal plates representing charging plates inside an electric car. When Afridi directs power to the bottom plates, they light a lightbulb above the top plates. The project has developed to the point where Afridi can transfer kilowatts of power between the plates at megahertz-scale frequencies.

"As a scientist, you feel challenged by things that people tell you are impossible to do," Afridi said in the CU Boulder release.

Watch below:

A meteorologist monitors weather in NOAA's Center for Weather and Climate Prediction on July 2, 2013 in Riverdale, Maryland. Mark Wilson / Getty Images

The Trump White House is now set to appoint two climate deniers to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in one month.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A plastic bag caught in a tree in New Jersey's Palisades Park. James Leynse / Stone / Getty Images

New Jersey is one step closer to passing what environmental advocates say is the strongest anti-plastic legislation in the nation.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Did you know that nearly 30% of adults do, or will, suffer from a sleep condition at some point in their life? Anyone who has experienced disruptions in their sleep is familiar with the havoc that it can wreak on your body and mind. Lack of sleep, for one, can lead to anxiety and lethargy in the short-term. In the long-term, sleep deprivation can lead to obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Fortunately, there are proven natural supplements that can reduce insomnia and improve quality sleep for the better. CBD oil, in particular, has been scientifically proven to promote relaxing and fulfilling sleep. Best of all, CBD is non-addictive, widely available, and affordable for just about everyone to enjoy. For these very reasons, we have put together a comprehensive guide on the best CBD oil for sleep. Our goal is to provide objective, transparent information about CBD products so you are an informed buyer.

Read More Show Less
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center on Sept. 18, 2020 in Washington, DC. Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill to boost clean energy while phasing out the use of coolants in air conditioners and refrigerators that are known pollutants and contribute to the climate crisis, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington comforts Marsha Maus, 75, whose home was destroyed during California's deadly 2018 wildfires, on March 11, 2019 in Agoura Hills, California. Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times / Getty Images

By Governor Jay Inslee

Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.

In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.

Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch