Battery and electric vehicle technology is constinutaly advancing and there are a number of potential breakthroughs in both types of technology coming soon. Vehicles like the Tesla Model S are at the forefront of electric vehicle technology but there are many other breakthroughs expected. Most current electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries.
Carbon nanotubes which are strong microscopic threads composed of carbon atoms may be used to increase lithium ion battery capacity to up to 10 times more than what it currently is. It is a promising area of battery research. A team at MIT recently created a cathode using nothing more than carbon nanotubes in layers. The surface area of carbon nanotubes allows it to store a higher charge which increases battery capacity. Battery power is also increased because the charge migrates on the carbon nanotubes more easily. Although the research is promising it is very preliminary and the chemistry must be researched much more before a commercially viable technology would be developed from it.
Lithium Air Battery
A lithium air battery may offer a higher energy density than current batteries and it is currently being researched by IBM. The technology could increase the range of electric vehicles by up to 500 miles or more. This would make electric vehicles more practical for Americans who rely on vehicles for interstate or long distance travel. There is not much information currently available about the technology, however it is known that the ions in the battery will react with oxygen, and that the battery electrolyte medium is not depleted by the reaction. It has been described as a “breathing” battery that brings in oxygen from the air and creates lithium peroxide, and releases the oxygen back into the air.
12 Volt Battery
12 volt batteries are still used in electric vehicles to power clocks, lights, computers and locks. 12 volt batteries offer a separate power source for these parts of the vehicle that would normally sap precious energy from the battery used to power the car. The latest technology for 12 volt batteries are called absorbed glass mat batteries and use a modern gel electrolyte. They are longer lasting than other 12 volt batteries and can hold their charge for up to a year.
Silicon nanoparticles are currently being researched at the University of Southern California and offer another way for lithium ion battery life to improve. This technology is estimated to only be a few years away from being commercially viable. Developments in egg-like silicon nanoparticle technology have offered the potential for batteries to store more ions. The more ions that batteries can store the longer the battery life and the better its performance. The new technology that is being researched at USC replaces standard graphite anodes with silicon nanoparticles that have small pores. The pores allow the nanoparticles to stretch and improves the rate of lithium ion diffusal. The technology may result in batteries that can charge in less than 15 minutes and with a capacity three times greater than current batteries.