Unlike conventional internal combustion engine vehicles that run on fossil fuels such as diesel, electric cars draw their power from rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs. A typical EV has hundreds of battery cells that can store electricity and dispense it to the vehicle’s motor to propel it.
While this battery setup eliminates the need for fossil fuels and produces zero carbon emissions at the tailpipe, it limits the amount of energy an EV can carry. Compared to fossil fuels, EV batteries carry far less energy and would theoretically need to be “filled up” more often.
However, since the average range for electric vehicles is around 230 miles and the average American driver drives an estimated 40 miles every day, a full charge could well last a couple of days. Even so, the companies behind EV batteries are constantly working to increase the energy density of EV batteries and up their range.
For example, a German battery startup is working on a battery that could allow electric vehicles to travel up to 900 miles on a single charge, tripling the current maximum EV range. This technology would play a major role in reducing the range anxiety that holds many people from switching to electric cars and increasing EV adoption.
Theion, a Berlin-based battery startup formed in 2020 ,will achieve this by using sulfur in its battery chemistry. The company’s cofounder and CTO Marek Slavik has been tinkering with this technology for nearly a decade and recently partnered with CEO Dr. Ulrich Ehmes to bring his revolutionary design to life.
Thanks to an abundance of mineral supply, sulfur is a more readily available compared to other EV battery minerals such as lithium. While most existing batteries use 80% nickel, 10% cobalt and 10% manganese in their chemistries, Theion’s sulfur batteries will need no cobalt, nickel or manganese.
Furthermore, the German startup uses graphene in place of copper and aluminum foil. Ehmes says the only thing in the new battery cells are sulfur, carbon and lithium metal foils. He states that Theion’s sulfur batteries will be able to deliver significantly more energy capacity without adding to the weight of the vehicle.
This would tackle one of the main problems holding back EV range. While you could theoretically add more battery cells to give your EV more range, the added weight would require more energy to move, eating into added energy reserves and effectively canceling out any gains in range.
Theion also says that the batteries would be much more affordable, going for $33.12 per kilowatt hour compared to the $99.36 per kilowatt hour it costs today. Unfortunately, Theion’s technology is headed to the space industry, Ehmes says, with EVs only getting to benefit from sulfur batteries a few years down the line. As batteries become more powerful, there is likely to be an uptick in the number of motorists who purchase electric vehicles from manufacturers such as QuantumScape Corp. because of the elimination of concerns about range.
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