Discovery may help improve electric vehiclesDecember 19, 2012
Researchers discover problem with lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles
Electric vehicles are gaining traction among consumers, but these vehicles have seen sluggish adoption over the years due to concerns regarding efficiency, cost, and performance. The auto industry is heavily invested in clean transportation, with a focus on electric vehicles powered by lithium-ion batteries and hydrogen fuel cells. Automakers are not the only ones interested in helping solve some of the problems that exist with electric vehicles and a team of researchers from the Ohio State University may have identified previously unknown factors that could be limiting the performance of electric vehicles.
Lithium migrating out of batteries
The research team, lead by Bharat Bhushan, has discovered that there are several factors that are limiting the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries, which are one of the primary energy sources for electric vehicles. According to researchers, as these batteries are used, they slowly lose lithium. The lithium accumulates outside of the battery itself, taking up residence around the battery’s electrodes. The copper that is used to improve the efficiency of the electron transfer between the battery’s electrodes and a vehicles electrical system may be part of the problem.
Copper may be a cause for active migration
Copper is widely used with lithium-ion batteries and acts as a “current collector” for these energy systems. It was a surprise for researchers to find lithium deposits in the current collectors themselves and exactly how the lithium got there is still a mystery. Researchers are now turning their focus on understanding how active lithium migration occurred and what can be done to stop it. Solving this problem could significantly increase the performance and lifespan of lithium-ion batteries, which could have promising implications for electric vehicles.
Automakers continue showing strong support for electric vehicles
Though electric vehicles have been experiencing some criticism in recent years, they have managed to find some traction with consumers. The auto industry is keen to continue pushing electric vehicles in order to comply with emissions standards that are becoming popular in some of the industry’s most favored markets. Automakers are also interested in providing environmentally conscious consumers with an alternative to vehicles that run on fossil-fuels.