Battery Technologies : The Next Level Technology (Part-I)


Battery Technologies : The Next Level Technology (Part-I)

Batteries are everywhere in today’s hyper connected electrically propelled society. I bet a battery is powering the device you’re reading the article right now. Do you have low battery status? What if you didn’t have to charge your phone again for another month? What if your electric car could travel 1000 miles on a single charge, charge in 10 minutes, and last for 1 million miles? For this article, we collaborated with a team of scientists to sort through the current battery research and evaluate the most promising new technologies based on performance, practicality and economics. We waited to publish this video until after Tesla’s battery day, so we could take their announcements into consideration and have the most accurate snapshot of the current battery landscape.


Current Generation Lithium Ion Batteries


Today just about every electric car uses lithium ion batteries. They’re pretty good, but ultimately are heavy and have long charging times for the amount of energy they can store. To add insult to injury, the energy density of decomposed organisms destructively drilled from the earth still achieve more than 100 times the energy density of the batteries used in most electric cars. 1 kilogram of gasoline contains about 48 Mega Joule’s of energy, and lithium ion battery packs only contain about .3 mega joules of energy per kilogram. What’s more, lithium batteries degrade with each charging cycle, gradually losing capacity over the battery’s lifetime. Researchers often compare batteries by the number of full cycles until the battery has only 80% of its original energy capacity remaining.


Environmental and Geopolitical Issues


According to Elon Musk, battery modules are the main limiting factor in electric vehicle life. In 2019 he said the Tesla Model 3 drive unit is rated for 1 million miles, but the battery only lasts for 300,000 - 500,000 miles or about 1,500 charge cycles. While energy density and lifetime improvements to batteries appear to be the most crucial issues, there are environmental and geopolitical problems associated with current lithium ion labor. Much is illegally exported and directly funds armed conflict in the region. Additionally the camps often create conditions which drive deforestation and an array of human rights abuses. To handle the predicted demand explosion for electric vehicles over the coming decades, we’ll need to create better batteries that are cheaper, longer lasting, more durable, and more efficient. We must also address the issues of political and environmental sustainability to ensure batteries remain tenable in an increasingly electric future.


Tesla Battery Day


Many questions were answered after Tesla’s long awaited battery day took place on September. The Palo Alto automaker announced a larger, Tesla’s 4680 battery cell with improved energy density, greater ease of manufacturing, and lower cost. The king sized cells make use of an improved design that eliminates the tabs normally found in Lithium Ion batteries that transfer the cell’s energy to an external source. Instead Tesla, “basically took the existing foils, laser powdered them, and enabled dozens of connections into the active material through this shingled spiral”.  This more efficient cell design alleviates thermal issues, and simplifies the manufacturing process. Tesla also introduced high-nickel cathodes that eliminate the need for cobalt, and improved silicon battery chemistry in which they stabilize the surface with an elastic ion-conducting polymer coating that allows for a higher percentage of cheap co-modified silicon to be used in cell manufacture. All together these changes create an expected and the new 4680 cells expect to achieve an increase in range, and a 6 time increase in power. Tesla hopes the improved cell design will allow them to achieve an eventual production target of 3 Terawatt-hours per year by 2030, and help scale the world’s transition to ubiquitous long distance electric vehicles. After Tesla’s recent battery day, the world’s attention is now more focused on batteries than ever before, but Tesla isn’t the only show in town.
Tesla Charging Station

In this article we are going to explore change everything. Metal air batteries have been around for a while. You might find a little zinc air button cell in a hearing aid, for example, but scaled up aluminum and lithium air chemistries are also promising for the automotive and aerospace industries. The potential for light weight batteries with high energy storage makes this battery technology promising. Lithium air batteries could have a maximum theoretical specific energy of 3,460 W h/kg, almost 10 times more than lithium ion. Realistic battery packs would probably be closer to 1000 W h/kg initially, but this is still three to five times higher than lithium ion batteries can achieve. As usual, this technology is not without its drawbacks. Current electrodes of lithium air batteries tend to clog with lithium salts after only a few tens of cycles – most researchers are using porous forms of carbon to transmit air to the liquid electrolytes. Feeding pure oxygen to the batteries is one solution but is a potential safety hazard in the automotive environment.


NASA in Game


Researchers at the University of Illinois found that they could prevent this clogging by using molybdenum disulphide nano-flakes to catalyze the formation of a thin coating of lithium peroxide (Li2O2) on the electrodes their test battery ran for an equivalent with uncoated electrodes. While this isn’t enough lifetimes for a car, it’s a promising hint of things to come. NASA researchers have also been investigating lithium air batteries for use in aircraft. They believe that once their research cell is optimized, they should be looking at around high power requirements of takeoff. But they too are struggling with low battery life. For them, the solutions will boil down to improvements in the electrolyte. In an interview with Chemical and Engineering News, researchers commented, “From an organic chemistry perspective, the challenge of lithium oxygen (Li-O2)  is that you’re basically asking an electrolyte to face many of the harshest reactive oxygen species possible.” They are now investigating molten salt electrolytes, but hope to carry over the research into solid state alternatives in the future to improve battery lifetime and cycleability. This technology still has a long way to go before your take your next business trip is in an electric passenger jet , but the promise of such high specific energy  will hold researchers’  interest for the foreseeable future, driven on by the promising advances made in recent years.


Nanotechnology has been a buzzword for several decades, but is now finding applications in everything from nano-electronics to biomedical engineering, and body armor to extra-slippery clothing irons. Nano-materials make use of particles and structures 1 – 100 nanometers in size, essentially one size up from the molecular scale. The magic is that they behave in unusual ways because this small size bridges the gap between that which operates under the rules of quantum physics and those of our familiar macro world. As we’ve seen, one of the challenges in battery design is the physical expansion of lithium electrodes as they charge. Researchers at Purdue University made use of antimony ‘nanochain’ electrodes last year to enable this material to replace graphite or carbon-metal composite electrodes. By structuring this metalloid element in this ‘nanochain’ net shape, extreme expansion can be accommodated within the electrode since it leaves a web of empty pores. The battery appears to charge rapidly and showed no deterioration over the Carbon nanostructures also show great promise.



Graphene is one of the most exciting of these. Graphene is made up of a single atomic thickness sheet of graphite, and it turns out that this material has very interesting electrical properties, being a very thin semiconductor with high carrier mobility, meaning that electrons are transmitted along it rapidly in the presence of an electric field, as inside a battery. It is also thermally conductive and has exceptional mechanical strength, about 200 times stronger than steel. Grabat, a Spanish nanotechnology company is pursuing Graphene polymer cathodes with metallic lithium anodes – a highly potent combination if their electrolyte can adequately protect the metallic anode and prevent dendrite growth. This battery promises to be lighter and more robust than current technology while charging and discharging faster and with greater energy capacity. 


Hope You Like The Article

Follow us @ Facebook: Advanced Tech World 

Read Also: 

Graphene : The Solution For Everything


Photonic Propulsion : The Electromagnetic Acceleration


Glass : The Future of Storage