The lithium-ion battery was a groundbreaking invention that revolutionized the world and hastened the emergence of the electronics age. These days, almost every electronic device from watches and mobile phones to tablets and computers is powered by a battery. Now that several governments across the world have revealed plans to steadily replace internal combustion vehicles with zero-emission electric vehicles, batteries are poised to play a significant role in another revolution: the electrification of our transport sector.
Depending on the type of battery chemistry used coupled with the size of the battery, an EV battery can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours to charge. Additionally, electric vehicle range or the distance vehicles can travel on a single charge depends on battery size, among other factors.
Since lithium is the lightest element, li-ion batteries are light and extra portable. Additionally, li-ion batteries have an exceedingly high-energy density, making them the go-to option for energy storage. Despite this, lithium-ion batteries will need a major upgrade if they are to power millions of battery electric vehicles in the coming decades.
Even though lithium-ion batteries have super-high energy density, their storage capacity still has a limit. Furthermore, repeated cycles of charging and discharging a battery will slowly degrade an EV battery over time and reduce its capacity, consequently reducing your car’s range.
Car and battery makers are now working to improve current battery technologies to produce lighter EV batteries with very high-energy density, significantly higher range and fast-charging capabilities. And since EV batteries have been known to catch fire, newer generations of EV battery packs have to be safer.
In late 2021, General Motors started the process of recalling every Chevrolet Bolt EV it had sold because of battery fires. The recall cost GM a whopping $2 billion, which was reimbursed by LG Electronics.
At the moment, electric vehicle batteries are made using rare minerals such as cobalt and nickel. These minerals are quite expensive, which increases the cost of production and increases the cost of purchasing EVs, yet mining has raised several environmental and human rights considerations.
A shortage in supply of these crucial minerals, which is already happening, could derail the burgeoning electric vehicle’s goals. According to a warning from Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe, we are currently producing just a small percentage (10%) of the EV batteries we will need to run a significantly electrified transportation system in a decade.
LG Energy Solution, CATL and other legacy battery manufacturers are working on new battery chemistries to address the problems that plague the lithium-ion battery. Automakers have also pledged to invest billions into EV battery research over the next decade.
If EV battery research continues at this pace, the electric vehicles from entities such as NIO Inc. (NYSE: NIO) in the years to come will feature batteries that are so superior to the current versions that motorists will no longer have range anxiety.
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