The future of Electric Batteries for Vehicles? 
Summarized by Walter Sorochan

Monday, January 22, 2007. Updated March 13, 2016.

The real inexpensive and safe electric storage battery is still a dream and hope.  Although today we have a technology to store fuel for electric vehicles [ EV ] using lithium, the element lithium as an element is in short supply, making such a battery expensive. Lithium-ion technology is 20 years old and the cost of such batteries is coming down in cost largely due to mass production and use of better technology.  Related to solving the high cost of lithium-ion battery is the increasing high cost of green electricity that has also been rising steeply since 2000, with average retail prices in the United States up nearly 50 percent.

This article briefly reviews the technology available for storing electricity in a battery to provide fuel for electric vehicles [EV].

battery series For the past 20 years, hybrids and electronic vehicles [ EV ] have distracted from finding a real solution to finding an inexpensive solution to using batteries to store electric energy. For example, there was a focus on batteries that took up a lot of space, as illustrated in the photo on the right. Other battery issues abounded, such as how many miles one travels before needing to charge the depleted battery?

battery1 The older lead-acid starter batteries have been replaced by much lighter Lithium-ion batteries. car battery info  updating batteries

Failed Tech Battery

A Texas company in 2011 raised hopes of solving the electric storage battery.   Unfortunately, as of March 13, 2016, Dick Weir and his EESTOR of Austin, Texas, has been unable to deliver working ultra-capacitor batteries.

Much like capacitors, ultra-capacitors store energy in an electrical field between two closely spaced conductors, or plates. When voltage is applied, ultra-capacitors release quick jolts of electricity and to absorb this energy just as fast.

Alternatives to lithium ion battery

The big unknown is a new technology that will create an improved electrical storage battery in the near future and possibly displace the lithium ion battery. Naam: Energy storage 2015  Many energy storage technologies are in the developmental stage with the hope to be far more resilient than lithium-ion:

    108  tesla-gigafactory_largeTesla Motors in USA and battery company: Make more less expensive lithium-ion [Li-ion] batteries. Tesla is not really a car company although it has built electric cars. It’s a battery company that happens to make electric cars. The battery is expected to employ the lithium-ion technology used in Tesla's Model S vehicles. By 2020, the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada, battery plant, will reach full capacity and produce more lithium ion batteries annually than were produced worldwide in 2013. Tesla claims that it will build batteries for not just cars and houses, but for electronics such as laptops and cell phones. The goal of the Gigafactory is to make batteries so cheap that electric cars can compete with conventional gasoline powered cars on price.

    This Li-ion battery suffers from fairly rapid degradation; can short circuit, explode or catch fire. Getting 1,000 cycles out of a li-ion battery with full depth of discharge (draining it completely) is ambitious. Tesla’s PowerWall battery is warranted for 10 years, or 3,650 cycles, which appears to be possible only because the battery is never fully drained. What Tesla sells as a 7kwh battery is actually a 10kwh battery that never allows the final 3kwh to be drained. Naam: Energy storage 2015

    108 Aluminum-ion battery fast-charging and long-lasting rechargeable battery that is inexpensive to produce; ultrafast rechargeable; is very safe; is flexible; able to withstand more than 7,500 cycles without any loss of capacity [by comparison, a typical lithium-ion battery lasts about 1,000 cycles]; could be used in laptops, could be used to store renewable energy on the electrical grid.   Shwartz: Aluminum battery 2015 There are a lot of problems to be solved so that this kind of battery can be used in electric vehicles.
    108 Flow batteries can potentially be used for 5,000 – 10,000 cycles, with complete discharge every time, before needing refurbishing. Adiabatic compressed air energy storage (CAES) uses tanks and compressors that are certified for 30 years or more of continuous use, meaning more than 10,000 cycles, again at complete discharge rather than the 70% discharge possible in lithium-ion. [In addition, CAES can be used to store energy for weeks, months, or years, something that batteries can’t do due to leakage.]  Naam: Energy storage costs 2015
    108  Fool's gold battery is made up of iron, sulfur, sodium and magnesium, all elements available in abundance. It can be made cheaply and easily. But there are other pluses. Magnesium anodes don't catch on fire as easily as lithium does. Unfortunately, the battery can't facilitate as strong of an outflow of energy as lithium ion, making it unsuitable for things like electric cars [which need their batteries to deliver them a lot of power and fast]; this technology needs to be tweaked. Instead, the battery could serve as a cheaper storage battery for large-scale electricity systems.   Hays: Fool's gold battery 2015
    108  Super-Capacitators: Supercapacitors are not used to store electricity in electric vehicles. Instead, these are used in applications requiring many rapid charge/discharge cycles rather than long term compact energy storage: within cars, buses, trains, cranes and elevators, where they are used for regenerative braking, short-term energy storage or burst-mode power delivery. A new experimental approach is a lithium-ion capacitor .... a hybrid electrochemical energy storage device which combines the intercalation mechanism of a lithium ion battery with the cathode of an electric double-layer capacitor (EDLC).  Wiki: Super-Capacitators
    108  Lithium-air, Lithium-Sulfur Batteries: Projected to be the best alternative to the lithium-ion battery in the future. This battery would require recharging far less often than their Lithium-ion cousin. But the problem is they only can be recharged a limited number of times. Estimates by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Yale University suggest a lithium-air battery could allow a vehicle to travel the 350-plus miles (564 km) expected from a tank of gasoline. IBM Research, meanwhile, says range could reach up to 500 miles (800 km) per charge. That compares with some Li-ion batteries providing about 245 miles (395 km) per charge, such as the one used in Tesla’s Roadster e-vehicle, according to Tesla. So: Lithium air battery 2015

In summary, an inexpensive and working electric energy storage battery for electric vehicles is a hopeful dream.  We may have electronic cars using electronic batteries today and in the next few years, but these lack real practicality.

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References:

Hays Brooks, "Fool's gold battery' developed as alternative to lithium ion," Science News, Nov. 13, 2015.   Hays: Fool's gold battery 2015

Naam Ramez, "Why Energy Storage is About to Get Big – and Cheap." April 14, 2015.  Naam: Energy storage 2015

Naam Ramez, "How Cheap Can Energy Storage Get? Pretty Darn Cheap." October 14, 2015  Naam: Energy storage costs 2015

Shwartz Mark, "Aluminum battery from Stanford offers safe alternative to conventional batteries," Stanford Report, April 6, 2015.   Shwartz: Aluminum battery 2015

So Kitty, "Researchers Pursue Alternatives to Li-ion Batteries," WardsAuto, Nov 5, 2015.  So: Lithium air battery 2015

Wikipedia, "Super-Capacitators."  Wiki: Super-Capacitators