One of the United States Department of Energy’s national laboratories has been selected to lead research into designing an improved electric car battery.
The Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington is to guide a $50 million project over the next five years to come up with a smaller, lighter and cheaper battery for electric cars.
The aim of the Battery500 consortium is to create a battery pack with specific energy of 500KWh, bigger than current electric car battery level of 170-200KWh.
The battery pack could also be used to provide better rechargeable batteries for mobile phones and laptops and energy storage before it is needed for the grid.
PNNL materials scientist and director of the PNNL-led consortium, Jun Liu said: “Our goal is to extract every available drop of energy from battery materials, while also producing a high-performance battery that is reliable, safe and less expensive. This is extremely difficult but extremely worthwhile.”
Liu said the consortium plans to focus on replacing the graphite used on the negative electrode in a typical electric vehicle with lithium metal, which can store more energy for the same amount of weight.
He warned that several problems must be tackled to allow the switch because potential side effects can weaken the battery’s performance. The manufacturing process needs to be economical and practical to make the product a viable option for American families.
Some of the work will take place at PNNL’s new Advanced Battery Facility, which can make and test new types of batteries.
The consortium also wants ideas for solutions from others and is setting aside 20% of its budget for “seedling projects,” based on proposals from the battery research community.