Researchers believe they have found the next way to cure winter blues – for electric vehicle battery technology.
A lithium-ion battery that heats on its own when the temperature is below 32° F could be used in many ways. The team of scientists believes it will be most impactful for electric vehicle owners who experience “range anxiety,” or the worry the power in an vehicle will run out before the driver reaches his destination, in the colder months.
Chao-Yang Wang, one of the researches, recognizes the long-enduring problem of batteries not performing well in subzero temperatures. While the effects may not be noticeable for devices like small electronics, it is a factor in the operation of electric vehicles, drones, and other technological applications.
As reported by the American Automobile Association, the cruise range of an electric vehicle can be reduced by up to 50 percent when in cold weather. “We don’t want the cold weather to exacerbate range anxiety,” Wang said.
Using patents held by EC Power, the team developed all-climate electric vehicle battery technology by modifying an existing battery. The unit weighed in at only 1.5 percent more than the usual batteries used. It was designed to operate from -4 to 32° F within 20 seconds, and from -22 to 32° F in 30 seconds. This operation only consumed 3.5 and 5.5 percent, respectively, of the cell’s total capacity. In conventional lithium-ion batteries, it takes 40 percent of the capacity to operate in similar conditions.
The all-climate battery uses nickel foil with one end on the negative terminal, and the other end outside the cell to act as a third terminal. A sensor attached to a switch makes electrons flow through the foil to create the full circuit. This process heats up the foil, warming the inside of the battery. Once the battery reaches 32° F, the switch turns off and the battery operates as normal.
Nickel foil is appealing, as it is inexpensive and effective.
Wang noted, “[W]e would like to broaden the work to a new paradigm called SmartBattery. We think we can use similar structures or principles to actively regulate the battery’s safety, performance and life.” With this type of outlook on the project, it’s likely that more developments in electric vehicle battery technology are on the horizon.
The Green Optimistics