Battery Power: EV’s are seen as key in transition to low-carbon economy, but their human and environmental costs become clearer can new tech help? Subscribe to Electric Vehicle News Bitesize Podcast for FREE!
While the journey to a low-carbon economy is well under way, the best route to get there remains up for debate. But, amid the slew of “pathways” and “roadmaps” one broad consensus exists: “clean” technology will play a vital role.
Nowhere truer is this for transport. To cut vehicle emissions, an alternative to the combustion engine is required. Much of the early progress is in the electric vehicle space.
Battery Power, Mining: saving the aquifer
Lithium, a rare metal on which EV batteries heavily depend, is extracted from land deposits or subterranean aquifers. In the case of the latter, vast quantities of salty groundwater are pumped to the surface and then evaporated in huge lake-sized pools. French company Eramet is experimenting with an alternative based on “nanofiltration”, which filters the water through natural mineral granules and returns to the aquifer. With 90% yield rates, almost double the industry average.Design: going modular
Design: going modular
Electronics have an obsolescence issue EV’s share. Startup Aceleron hope to do for battery power packs what Fair phone has done for Smartphones; namely, go modular. Aceleron use compression to reduce the need to bond components, making it easier to disassemble a battery pack for repairs, servicing or repurposing.
Re-use: Battery powered energy storage
At some stage, battery performance wanes. Storage capacity may no longer allow for a 250km round-trip, but that doesn’t render them useless. Connected Energy takes old EV batteries and combines them into stationary power storage units.
Recycling: low energy smelting
When performance levels get to the point where re-use opportunities begin to dwindle then recycling becomes the most viable option. Umicore, a one-time smelting firm turned “urban miner”, has developed a cutting-edge recycling system that melts down the core components into a metal alloy and a concentrate. Their site in Antwerp can recycle 35,000 EV batteries a year.
Battery power. Transparency: battery passport
The goal of a project by the Global Battery Alliance plans to launch a battery ” passport” at the end of next year. The digital tool promises to track the management of social and environmental risks in an EV batteries life. The voluntary passport will allow regulators to track the environmental impact of EV batteries so that customers can make more informed choices.
The Lithium ion battery; a brief history –
Akira Yoshino developed a prototype lithium-ion battery in 1985, based on John Goodenough, M. Stanley Whittingham, Rachid Yazami and Koichi Mizushima’s early research from the 1970s to the 1980s, and then commercial lithium-ion The battery was developed by the Sony and Asahi Kasei teams led by Scarlett in 1991.
Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in portable electronics and electric vehicles, and are becoming increasingly popular in military and aerospace applications.
The chemistry, performance, cost, and safety characteristics vary depending on the type of lithium-ion battery. Most handheld electronic products use lithium polymer batteries (with polymer gel as electrolyte), lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO 2) cathode materials and graphite anode materials, which together provide high energy density. Lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO 4), lithium manganese oxide (LiMn 2O 4 spinel or Li 2MnO 3 based lithium-rich layered material, LMR-NMC) and lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (LiNiMnCoO 2 Or NMC) can provide longer life and can have better capability rates. Such batteries are widely used in power tools, medical equipment, and other roles. NMC and its derivatives are widely used in electric vehicles.
Research on rechargeable lithium-ion batteries can be traced back to the 1960s; one of the earliest examples is the CuF 2/Li battery developed by NASA in 1965. The earliest form of modern lithium-ion battery breakthrough was the first use of titanium disulfide (TiS) in 1974 by British chemist M. Stanley Whittingham. As a positive electrode material, it has a layered structure that can absorb lithium ions without significantly changing its crystal structure. ExxonMobil tried to commercialize this battery in the late 1970s, but found that the synthesis was expensive and complicated.
In 1980, after testing a series of alternative materials, Koichi Mizushima and John B. Goodenough replaced TiS 2 with lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO 2, or LCO), which has a similar layered structure but provides higher voltage. It is more stable in the air. This material was later used in the first commercial lithium-ion batteries, although it did not solve the long-standing flammability problem.
These early attempts to develop rechargeable lithium-ion batteries used lithium metal negative electrodes, but because lithium metal is unstable, it is easy to form dendrites, leading to short circuits, and was finally abandoned due to safety issues. The final solution is to use an embedded anode similar to that used for the cathode to prevent the formation of lithium metal during battery charging. Researched a variety of anode materials; in 1987, Akira Yoshino obtained the first commercial lithium ion using “soft carbon” (a charcoal-like material) anode and LCO cathode, and a carbonate-based electrolyte previously reported by Goodenough patents Battery. In 1991, using Yoshino’s design, Sony began to produce and sell the world’s first rechargeable lithium-ion battery. The following year, a joint venture between Toshiba and Asashi Kasei Co. also released its own lithium-ion battery.
In the 1990s, hard carbon was first used, and then graphite was used instead of soft carbon anodes, which achieved a significant increase in energy density. This concept was first proposed by Jürgen Otto Besenhard in 1974.
In 2012, John B. Goodenough, Rachid Yazami and Akira Yoshino won the 2012 IEEE Environmental and Safety Technology Medal for developing lithium-ion batteries; Goodenough, Whittingham and Yoshino won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of lithium ion batteries.
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