Tweaking Electrolyte Makes Better Lithium-Metal Batteries

New, early-stage research shows adding a small amount of the chemical lithium hexafluorophosphate to a dual-salt, carbonate solvent-based electrolyte can make rechargeable lithium-metal batteries stable, charge quickly and have a high voltage. “A good lithium-metal battery will have the same lifespan as the lithium-ion batteries that power today’s electric cars and consumer electric devices, but also store more energy so we can drive longer in between charges,” said chemist Wu Xu of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Xu is a corresponding author on a paper published today in the journal Nature Energy. Battery basics Most of the rechargeable batteries used today are lithium-ion batteries, which have two electrodes: one that’s positively charged and contains lithium, and another negative one that’s typically made of graphite. Electricity is generated when electrons flow through a wire that connects the two. To control the electrons, positively charged lithium atoms shuttle from…

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The Future of Transportation: Electricity or Liquid Fuels?

This is truly the topic of on-going debate. Car manufacturers are continuously making vehicles more efficient and new lineups almost always include options of hybrid, and plug-in electric. With all the options available, consumers still won’t stop talking about something known as “range anxiety”. I’ve heard countless people say “Why would I buy an electric vehicle that will only take me less than 200 miles when I can drive ~500 miles on a single tank of gas without filling up?” Then there’s the criticism of charge time for electric vehicles – 30 minutes at best using a Tesla supercharger versus 5 minutes at the pump. On the flip side, there are certainly arguments in favor of electric vehicles. With an equivalent fuel efficiency of 89 mpg (combined city/highway driving) for the 2015 Tesla Model S versus approximately 23 mpg for a comparable full gas model sedan (e.g. BMW Series 7),…

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Springing Towards Affordable EVs with Reduced Battery Cost

Can electric cars be really affordable? At least for now, the price tags of most electric vehicle are not attractive enough for general consumers. But the good news is that the cost of electric vehicle battery has dropped about 80% since 2011 down to $227/kWh. As the core component that largely determines the cost of production for electric cars, this drop is exciting news. And Telsa is just about to make the battery even cheaper. There are two ways to bring down the cost of battery production. One is to develop a completely new technology that outperforms the current one without adding extra manufacturing cost. The other is to simply massively scale up the current production lines. Telsa is trying the later approach with the Gigafactory. The company is aiming at a 35% cost reduction in a new teaser video. After the Gigafactory is running at its full capacity, the…

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