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Last updated: Feb 2020 by Narasimhan Santhanam

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To estimate the future of electric vehicles, it is necessary to estimate the future of electric vehicle batteries. Today in electric vehicles, the battery chemistry used is mainly Li-Ion and the 3 new promising technologies for the future are Li- S, Li-Air and Zn-Air . Additionally, there has been significant research and development into the overall battery composition and its usage. Companies are seeking nanomaterials to improve the battery efficiency, energy density and safety. As far as performance is considered, every battery needs a Battery Management System(BMS) to accurately monitor, analyse and regulate the energy flow. 

Battery chemistries which are expected to get significant research attention and investments for the 2020-2030 period

  • The research and development in the Battery field is working towards creating a smaller, lighter, efficient, cost effective batteries that can last long.
  • Lithium sulphur chemistry can store up to 500 Wh/kg which is almost twice that of the other lithium chemistries. The problem in LiS is that the cost is high and the anode material tends to degrade during recharge which reduces the number of charging cycles of the battery.
  • Zinc–air batteries (non-rechargeable) , and zinc–air fuel cells (mechanically rechargeable) are metal–air batteries powered by oxidizing zinc with oxygen from the air. These batteries have high energy densities and are relatively inexpensive to produce. 
  • Zinc–air batteries have some properties of fuel cells as well as batteries: the zinc is the fuel, the reaction rate can be controlled by varying the air flow, and oxidized zinc/electrolyte paste can be replaced with fresh paste.
  • Possible future applications of this battery include its deployment as an electric vehicle battery and as a utility-scale energy storage system.
  • A metal–air electrochemical cell is an electrochemical cell that uses an anode made from pure metal and an external cathode of ambient air, typically with an aqueous or aprotic electrolyte.
  • Lithium air battery uses the oxidation of metal (lithium) at the anode and reduction of oxygen at the cathode to induce a current flow. The major appeal of the metal-air battery is the extremely high energy density. This chemistry starts to approach the energy density of oil and can theoretically deliver 12 kWh per kg. 
  • lithium-air batteries have never met with as much success as lithium-ion cells due to the difficulty of building a lithium-air cell which can be recharged thousands of times.

Innovations in Battery Chemistries

  • StoreDot, an Isreali nanotechnology startup, first demoed its “Flash Battery” technology in May 2017 – which promises to charge an electric car in just five minutes, providing up to 300 miles of range (depending on EV) using novel organic compounds in place of chemicals found in lithium-ion batteries. In addition to providing hyper-fast charging, StoreDot projects EV FlashBattery which is environmentally safer than a standard lithium-ion battery, with a “friendlier” manufacturing process; contains materials that are “less flammable and more stable at high temperatures”  than those found in lithium-ion technologies; and is price-competitive with expectations for existing EV batteries.
  • Toshiba in 2017, announced a next-generation SCiB with anodes made from a different material- titanium niobium oxide
    • The utilization of the new oxide material retains the benefits of the existing SCiB model, but is “much less likely to experience lithium metal deposition during ultra-rapid recharging or recharging in cold conditions.” That deposition can cause battery degradation.
    • Toshiba has developed a model to store Li-ion more efficiently in the new SCiB batteries, enhancing both power and battery life. The new SCiB retains 90% of its battery capacity even after 5,000 charging cycles, according to the company.
    • The new SCiBs give EVs a nearly 200-mile range after just six minutes of L3 charging.  Rather than an incremental improvement, this is a game changing advance that will make a significant difference to the range and performance of EV. Toshiba will continue to improve the battery’s performance and aims to put the next-generation SCiB into practical application in fiscal year 2019.
  • Samsung is going even further than 200 miles with the new battery innovation that it debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show in September 2017. It has introduced a new “multifunctional battery pack” that can power electric cars for up to 430 miles.

Innovation in  Electric-car Battery Cooling: Immerse Cells in Coolant

Regardless of how the vehicle is powered—whether it be an internal-combustion engine or a battery pack powering an electric motor, most power trains have a common enemy: heat. Hence Taipei-based XING Mobility has come up with an idea of “immerse cells in coolant”, where they have tested with  Miss R model as its battery cells need to rapidly discharge to generate its maximum quoted output of 1,000 kilowatts (1,341-horsepower).

The more rapidly you discharge a battery, the more heat it generates—and it has a solution to keep its fast-discharging battery pack cool.

Instead of snacking coolant through lines and chambers within the battery pack’s case, it  is taking a wholly different approach by immersing its cells in a non-conductive fluid with a high boiling point.

According to Charged EVs, the coolant is 3M Novec 7200 Engineered Fluid, “a non-conductive fluid designed for heat transfer applications, fire suppression and supercomputer cooling.”(Dec 2017 article)

“The use of Novec Engineered Fluids to immersion-cool EV batteries is a breakthrough application, addressing the critical performance needs of the market in a new and disruptive way,” the batteries molded in the form of 42 lithium-ion-cell modules that can be put together to build larger battery solutions. The complete battery houses 4,200 individual 18650 lithium-ion cells encased in liquid-cooled module packs and they have also planned to sell the battery solutions to other OEMs looking for energy storage solutions.

XING also plans to offer other off-the-shelf components for fledgling EV makers, such as torque-vectoring gearboxes, electric power kits, and magnetorheological dampers.

The company projects its Miss R model should be capable of sprinting to 100 kms/hr in 1.8 seconds, reaching 200 kms/hr in 5 seconds, and hitting a top speed of 270 kms/hr (168 mph).

Innovations in Anode Materials

  • Sila Nanotechnologies in 2011 developed a commercial silicon anode. The conventional wisdom is to replace, about, 10% of the graphite in a battery anode with silicon metal or oxide, improving density without introducing too much swelling. The company has created a nanocomposite of covalently bonded nanostructures of which 50% are silicon and the rest undisclosed non graphite materials. The composite is porous but encapsulated with a sealed outer layer that prevents electrolyte penetration into the composite, protecting it from damage during charge and discharge. The composite is contained in a porous scaffold structure so it is able to expand and contract without puncturing the coating. Sila’s material has an energy storage capacity four or five times that of graphite, enabling the energy density of a lithium-ion battery to increase by 20–40%.
  • Amprius has a 100% silicon anode that Airbus successfully tested in lithium-ion batteries for its Zephyr S pseudo satellite. The batteries have an energy density of over 435 (W h)/kg—substantially higher than that of commercial lithium-ion batteries in use today.
  • Oxis’s chief technical officer, David A. Ainsworth, says that a lithium-metal anode has the highest specific capacity of any anode material, at 3,862 (mA h)/g. When paired with an optimized sulfur-based cathode, it will allow Oxis’s Li-S battery to achieve an energy density of more than 425 (W h)/kg, he says, compared with about 200 (W h)/kg for a lithium-ion battery.
  • Lithium titanate (LTO) replaces the graphite in the anode of a standard lithium-ion battery and the material forms into a spinel structure. It can be used in combination with LMO or NMC cathodeIn essence, the LTO is a rechargeable battery based on the, or modified from, the Lithium-Ion (li-ion) battery technology. Li-Titanate Oxide (LTO) replaces the graphite in the anode of the typical Li-Ion battery and forms the materials into a spinel 3D crystal structure. Having a nominal a cell voltage of 2.40V, it releases high discharge current that is 10 times the capacity of the other types of lithium batteries. Instead of using carbon particles on its surface as other lithium batteries do, Lithium Titanate utilizes lithium-titanate nanocrystals.

Innovations in BMS

  • Predictive BMS for Enhanced Battery Module Operation and Management through Real-time Modeling
  • Prior Prediction of Battery Failure by BMS through Accurate Measurement of Gas Emissions
  • Wireless BMS System Offers Increased Operation Flexibility By Minimizing Complex Wiring Circuitry
  • Restricting Overdesign of BMS by Developing Advanced Software Systems to Support Optimum BMS Design
  • Battery Management Systems with User-friendly Features for Accessing Real-time Operating Parameters
  • BMS Provides Direct Digital Output for Accurately Predicting the Energy Status of Batteries for Distance Calculation
  • Simplified BMS Architecture with Power Management and Conditioning Module Which Offers Increased Flexibility for Scaling
  • Wireless Sensor System in BMS Offers Enhanced Safety and Reliability Features
  • Off-the-Shelf Low Voltage BMS With MESA Standards Conformance
  • Predictive BMS for Automotives with Hybrid Powertrain Control


Great Wall Motors’ subsidary company Svolt’s BMS for a BEV & PHEV

Nanotechnology in Batteries

Nanotechnology can play a significant role in the achievement of specific performance objectives in batteries. Conventionally, graphite powder has been used as an intercalation material on the negative electrode for lithium ion batteries. The rate of removal or insertion of lithium and the battery capacity can be improved by replacing micrometer-sized powder with carbon nanomaterials such as carbon nanotubes. Since carbon nanotubes have a high surface area, they can bind much higher concentrations of lithium. Nanowires made of titanium dioxide (TiO2), vanadium oxide (V2O5) or tin oxide (SnO) are also promising as negative electrode materials.

  • Nanoparticle matrices in battery electrodes can drastically increase their ability to store lithium ions, increasing the storage density of the battery. Image Credits: Argonne National Laboratory
  • The EPA’s( US Environmental Protection Agency) Design for the office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, along with National Risk Management Research Laboratory in EPA’s Office of Research and Development, performed some research comprising a screening-level lifecycle assessment (LCA) of current lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technologies for electric vehicles, and a next-generation battery component (anode) using single-walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) technology.
  • A research team at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology’s Interdisciplinary School of Green Energy focused on cutting down electric car charging time from hours to minutes. This innovative technology is aimed at improving the recharging time at least 30 times and speed 120 times compared to currently available lithium ion batteries.


Read more on the EV Battery ecosystem from: EV battery Innovations | Components of BMS | FCEV Trends | FCEV Indian Efforts | Anode/Cathode R&D | Li-ion Battery Trends | BMS Innovations | Indian Battery Manufacturers | Cost of Li-ion Batteries | Anode Materials in 2020-2030 | Key Drivers shaping Battery Chemistry |

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