An innovative battery that is in the process of being built could change the landscape for electric run cars as well as oil-run cars.
The average person drives about 30 miles (48 kilometers) per day, according to AAA, and yet, many people are still hesitant to buy electric cars that can travel three times the said distance on a single charge. This driving range anxiety is one of the reasons why gasoline and oil-powered vehicles still rule the road.
A team of scientists are working to ease those fears.
Mareike Wolter, Project Manager of Mobile Energy Storage Systems at Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft in Dresden, Germany, is working with a team to develop a new battery that will give electric cars the ability to travel a range of approximately 620 miles (1,000 km) on a single charge – thus giving electric cars more edge than oil-powered vehicles.
Wolter said his team was working on the project three years ago when researchers from Fraunhofer as well as ThyssenKrupp System Engineering and IAV Automotive Engineering started researching how they could improve the energy density of automotive lithium batteries. His team turned to the popular electric car producer, Tesla, as their starting point.
Tesla’s latest vehicle unit, the Model S 100D has a 100-kilowatt-hour battery pack, which gives it an estimated range of 335 miles (540 km). The pack is 16 feet long, 6 feet wide and 4 inches thick. Each pack contains 8,000 lithium-ion battery cells individually packaged inside a cylinder that measures about 2 to 3 inches (6 to 7 centimeters) high.
“We thought if we could use the same space as the battery in the Tesla, but improve the energy density and finally drive 1,000 km, this would be nice,” Wolter said.
Wolter also added that one way of improving the energy density is to refine the materials inside the battery so that it can store more energy. They have also improved the design to be able to carry the 16 feet long battery stylishly.
50 percent of each battery cell is made of components such as the housing, the anode (battery’s negative terminal), the cathode (battery’s positive terminal) and the electrolyte, the liquid that transports all the charged particles. They have added an additional space inside the car to wire the battery packs in the vehicle’s electrical system.
“It’s a lot of wasted space. You have a lot of inactive components in the system, and that’s a problem from our point of view,” said Wolter.
The scientists were challenged to reimagine the entire design, they said.
To make the design work, they got rid of the housings and encased each battery to a thin sheet-like design instead of the normal cylindrical space.
The metallic sheet is coated with an energy-storage material made from powdered ceramic mixed with a polymer binder. One side serves as the cathode while the other side serves as the anode.
The researchers stacked several of these so-called bipolar electrodes one on top of the other, like sheets of paper in a ream, separating the electrodes by thin layers of electrolytes and a material that prevents electrical charges from shorting out the whole system.
The “ream” is sealed within a package measuring about 10 square feet (1 square meter), and connects on the top and bottom to the car’s electrical system.
The goal is to build a battery system that fits in the same space as the one used by Tesla’s vehicles or other electric vehicles, the researchers said.
“We can put more electrodes storing the energy in the same amount of space,” Wolter said.
She added that the researchers aim to have such a system ready to test in cars by 2020. In Yemen, most cars are still reliant on oil and gas. 33.9% of the population live in urban areas and up until now the means for transportation is limited.
In fact, Yemen remains to be one of the few countries worldwide that continues to use gasoline to power its cars and other vehicles. This is because there are very few lead-free petrol stations in the country. With research focused on bringing electric cars to Yemen, the impact on the environment would be astronomical.
In 2008, Yemen’s Ministry of Environment and Water acknowledged the severity of the problem and started working on a national strategy to reduce air pollution. The authorities have implemented a few simple measures to improve the air quality.
Vehicles which were manufactured before year 2000 are no longer permitted entry in the country. The authorities have also reduced the tax on new cars to encourage more people to invest on modern and more environment-friendly vehicles.
Most of all, electric cars do not emit climate-damaging CO2 or health-harming nitrogen oxide. They do not make any noise and they are very easy to operate. Electric vehicles seem to have a lot of advantages over cars that run on gasoline or diesel.
It is easy to see how they come in handy for the German government to reach its aim of a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 compared to 1994. By then, there is to be one million electric cars on German roads. Germany was once regarded as the ‘sleeping giant of electric vehicles’ and now, they are aggressively working towards this vision.
This is a lofty ambition considering that the milestone of one million global cumulative EV sales was only passed in the fall of last year, and the German EV fleet currently only numbers 55,000.
If Germany was able to make an ambitious goal, that’s so impossible – yet have been thoroughly working on it in baby steps — what more for Yemen? There is so much potential to develop new batteries and solar panels.
If this kind of technology will be applied and be funded by the government and enough research will be conducted to produce more electric cars and power sources in Yemen, then, this will surely be a good breakthrough. Our country is known for the rich oil it produces, but coming up with an innovation like this would save our resources and create more jobs for Yemenis.