Energy Storage

I've been monitoring and writing about battery technology advancements for years, and was let down so many times. This time, a li-ion battery technology that can be recharged to 70% in 2 minutes has been developed, and it can theoretically last 20 years!

NTU's Assoc Professor Chen Xiaodong with research fellow Tang Yuxin and PhD student Deng Jiyang. Image obtained with thanks from NTU.

NTU's Assoc Professor Chen Xiaodong with research fellow Tang Yuxin and PhD student Deng Jiyang.
Image obtained with thanks from NTU.

This technology is facilitated by the use of a titanium dioxide-based gel in the anode, unlike conventional lithium-ion batteries which often contain graphite anodes. Titanium dioxide is an abundant, cheap, and non-toxic material. That is a step in the right direction for battery manufacturing.

According to NTU,

Naturally found in spherical shape, the NTU team has found a way to transform the titanium dioxide into tiny nanotubes, which is a thousand times thinner than the diameter of a human hair. This speeds up the chemical reactions taking place in the new battery, allowing for superfast charging.

The previous advancements usually had a significant flaw, or just didn't make it to the market, or at least not yet. For example: MIT's battery that charges in 20 seconds, and is cheaper than the others.

That was one of few technologies which didn't appear to have any serious flaws. It would be a game changer if it was commercialized.

It could have a great impact on the electric vehicle industry. A key issue affecting electric vehicle adoption is battery charge time. If electric vehicles could recharge quickly enough, they would not need much range. Range is currently an issue because people won't want to sit in a public place for hours waiting for their vehicles to charge.

People rarely drive more than 30 miles at a time, and even if they wanted to do a 400-mile trip in a car that has only 80 miles of range, they could recharge it for 2 minutes every 80 miles (or ever 30-60 minutes). While that isn't difficult, if you think it is, most people won't have to do it anyway.

Some think that electric vehicles must amount to the 300-500 mile range that gasoline-powered vehicles have, but this isn't necessary. Gas tanks are cheap enough to just make them bigger. Most people's gas tanks can last longer than a week, so they don't even bother to refill them daily.

Apart from that, electric vehicles have the other benefit of recharging at home overnight daily so the user won't have to go to a gas station, and they will have their full range every day, unlike gas-powered vehicle users which can't have that luxury.

This Battery Technology's Impact On Electric Planes

The electric plane industry hasn't taken off yet, and is struggling to do so. However, i'm sure that electric planes could benefit from a reduced recharge time. Planes will sometimes need to top up between flights, and time is of the essence in the airline industry.

The ability to recharge to 70% in two minutes might help the airline industry take another big step towards the electrification of planes.

This technology was developed by a team of researchers including Prof Chen Xiaodong, Tang Yuxin and PhD student Deng Jiyang at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) in Singapore.

Source: NTU.

Follow me on Twitter: @Kompulsa.

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Electric vehicle battery technology is usually of the lithium-ion chemistry, and it costs $400 to $500 USD per kWh, down from $1,000 a few years ago. They have certainly made strides, and they are set to make even bigger strides in the near future, possibly to $100 per kWh of batteries.

Tesla Model S Drivetrain. Tesla's Gigafactory could make electric vehicle batteries cheap.

Tesla Model S Drivetrain.
Image Credit: Kompulsa.

Tesla Motors has aimed to reduce the cost of lithium-ion battery technology by 30% via their Gigafactory. However, Elon Musk thinks that is conservative, and said that he would be disappointed if he didn't achieve a battery cost of $100/kWh within 10 years. The Tesla Gigafactory will also hire up to 6,500 people.

The Tesla Gigafactory Could Make Electric Vehicles Cheap

The Tesla Gigafactory should reach its full capacity of in 2020, which is 35 GWh of lithium-ion cells, and 50 GWh of battery packs per year, enough to produce 500,000 electric vehicles per year.

The Tesla Gigafactory's cost reductions could lead to a Nissan Leaf battery pack that costs only $2,400, as opposed to the $5,500 it costs now (after a $1,000 discount for turning in the old pack). Nissan Leaf vehicles could cost as little as $18,410 after federal tax rebates at that price!

Also imagine a Tesla Model S 85kWh (265 miles on average) battery pack that costs only $8,500. Compare that to the (estimated) $17,000 to $21,250 that it costs now. Please note that $21,250 translates to an unusually low cost of $250 per kWh.

That $12,750 cost reduction could reduce the cost of the 85 kWh model from $79,900 to $67,150, and that is an awfully nice car.

This cost reduction is likely to lead to the use of larger capacity batteries to extend electric car range to a few hundred miles.

That Much Additional EV Range Isn't Necessary - It's Time To Be More Fair To Electric Vehicles

Gasoline-powered vehicles can achieve over 300 miles per tank on average, but that doesn't mean that they must have that much range. Electric vehicles do not need that much range either.

Most people drive less than 30 miles per day, so most of the electric vehicles on the market can cover that range, including the (relatively) low-priced Fiat 500e and the Nissan Leaf vehicles.

Electric vehicle owners wake up to a full 'tank' every morning: Gasoline-powered vehicles cannot refill their tanks automatically every night like electric vehicles can. You have to drive to a gas station and sit their until it refills.

Electric vehicles can charge overnight while you're fast asleep.

Think about the average range a Tesla Model S could get per day, compared to that of a gasoline-powered vehicle. People don't want to visit odorific gas stations frequently, so they wait until they're running low on gas to stop by.

Most of the time, gasoline-powered vehicles have only a fraction of their 300-mile range, because their tanks aren't kept full.

Source: Green Car Reports.

Originally published on Cleantechnica By Nicholas Brown.

The energy capacity (in this case, the deployment) of advanced utility-scale batteries is forecast to grow 71% annually according to a Navigant Research report titled Advanced Batteries for Utility-Scale Energy Storage. The report expects the industry to grow from a capacity of 412 MWh in 2014 to over 51,200 MWh in 2023.

Navigant Research pointed out the fact that:

Traditionally, the electricity grid has functioned mostly without any stored resources. Today, however, the rapid expansion of distributed, renewable energy resources is increasing demand for energy storage on the grid even as technological advances in electrochemistry are enabling advanced batteries to play an increasingly important role in grid management.

Just so we’re clear, not only renewable energy generators need backup. Coal and nuclear power plants require backup because they are hardly adjustable (steam power plants in general suffer from this problem). Furthermore, they sometimes are down for maintenance or due to emergency.

While solar and wind power plants are already backed up successfully by natural gas–fueled generators, they could still benefit from the installation of battery systems because energy storage enables us to utilize almost all of the electricity they generate. Furthermore, this would reduce global warming emissions.

I should mention that not all energy storage systems are created equally. Some battery chemistries (such as lead-acid) are only capable of a very limited discharge rate (they are limited by Peukert’s Law, shown on page 19 of this PDF), which is why lithium-ion batteries have largely replaced them as the best performers, as their discharge rate is not nearly as limited (up to 40°C for lithium-iron phosphate batteries).

Furthermore: “While there are several chemistries suitable for large energy storage installations for the grid, the clear leader is lithium-ion and its subchemistries,” says Sam Jaffe, principal research analyst with Navigant Research. “Lithium-ion manufacturers have raced ahead in building manufacturing facilities, giving them considerable advantages in the ability to meet large-volume orders and utilize economies of scale in order to bring prices down.”

The greatest advanced battery technology growth over the next 10 years is expected to take place in Asia Pacific.