Need car parts? Select your vehicle
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Summary
  • A solid-state battery is essentially more efficient than a lithium-ion battery because of its high energy density.
  • Lithium-ion is arguably the most dominant battery technology. Its lightweight characteristics and high energy density make it the ideal EV battery.
  • A sodium-ion battery is essentially a container of saltwater with two electrodes that generate electricity when connected to a power source.

Automakers are constantly looking for ways to improve vehicles一from modifying drivetrains and enhancing suspension systems down to fine-tuning the smallest interior details for maximum cabin comfort.

But perhaps one of the greatest leaps in automotive engineering was the creation of electric vehicles (EVs)一a sustainable alternative designed to combat the harmful effects of exhaust emissions from internal combustion engines.

Electric vehicles draw power from a battery pack that welcomes various charging options. And although this feat is already a big step towards a sustainable future, consumers simply want more.

Limited range is one of the most common concerns surrounding vehicles that run on batteries.

So how are automakers trying to get around this issue?

The Future of EV Batteries

The EV landscape is constantly evolving, and that includes changes in battery technology.

ev lithium battery pack selective focus
Electric vehicles draw power from a battery pack that welcomes various charging options. And although this feat is already a big step towards a sustainable future, consumers simply want more.

So what can we expect in the future? Here are some of the advancements in battery technology that might reach the mainstream market soon.

Solid-State Batteries

Unlike the conventional lithium-ion EV battery, a solid-state battery uses solid electrodes and a solid electrolyte instead of liquid ones.

A solid-state battery is essentially more efficient than a lithium-ion battery because of its high energy density. It’s also safer than a lithium-ion battery, resolving issues like flammability, limited voltage, and poor cycling performance.

See also  Reasons Why Your Prius Won’t Start

Toyota is currently at the forefront of developing solid-state batteries with increased range and quick charging times.

The Japanese automaker has already developed its first generation of solid-state batteries that offer up to 745 miles of range. Its second-generation lineup is being developed to churn out 932 miles of range.

In terms of charging time, Toyota’s solid-state batteries promise an 80 percent capacity with only 10 minutes of charging.

Honda is another automaker working on developing its own solid-state battery to reduce the cost of building EVs.

Currently, the automaker’s focus is on executing various fabrication techniques and finding the right materials for the experiment. Honda is also working on a stamping technique that can enhance the solid electrolyte battery.

Other companies that are working on the development of solid-state batteries include CATL, BYD, Panasonic, Quantum Scape, and Solid Power.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion is arguably the most dominant battery technology. Its lightweight characteristics and high energy density make it the ideal EV battery.

Lithium-ion batteries also have a high life expectancy, which means they can be recharged hundreds of times before they start to degrade.

The issue with lithium-ion batteries, however, is that they rely on limited resources like cobalt and lithium. They’re also flammable and have low ion selectivity for conduction.

These issues motivate scientists to develop a next-generation lithium-ion battery.

A study from the University of Hong Kong suggests that using solid electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries can improve their performance.

According to the study’s researchers, solid electrolytes are compatible with the lithium metal anode and could offer several safety benefits and increase power capacity.

See also  What Does Range Mean and How to Make the Most Out of It

Sodium-Ion Batteries

Sodium-ion batteries, also known as saltwater batteries, are slowly making their way to the market.

A sodium-ion battery is essentially a container of saltwater with two electrodes that generate electricity when connected to a power source. The electrodes, which are usually made from carbon, react with the sodium sulfate electrolyte in the saltwater, storing energy in the form of ions.

Sodium-ion batteries are generally easy to maintain, and they’re much cheaper to produce compared to lithium-ion batteries.

One downside, however, is that sodium-ion batteries can’t store as much charge as lithium-ion ones because of their low energy density. Their recharge capacity is also lower than lithium-ion batteries.

Still, automakers are welcoming the idea of selling more sodium-ion batteries in the market.

JAC Motors is eyeing to launch an EV that runs on a saltwater battery. The Chinese automaker backed by Volkswagen will debut an EV under its Yiwei brand. The EV will be a small hatchback that has a projected range of 157 miles.

Like solid-state batteries, saltwater batteries are also non-flammable. They’re also non-toxic.

Cobalt-Free Batteries

Cobalt is a scarce metal that’s located in politically unstable countries, which also means that sourcing it creates hazardous working conditions.

The scarcity of cobalt is one of the driving forces for automakers to find an alternative to batteries that rely on the metal.

Using nanoparticles like silicon or carbon as the anode material, batteries can have increased energy density, as well as improved charge and discharge rates.

Batteries that use such nanoparticles can also have about 1,500 charging cycles and dissipate less heat during these processes.

Another alternative to cobalt would be lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) materials. However, one downside to using these materials is that they only have half the energy density of cobalt and nickel batteries.

See also  Hybrid System Malfunction: Meaning, Causes, and Other FAQs

There’s also a Lamborghini-funded project that explored bis-tetraaminobenzoquinone (TAQ) as a cathode.

TAQ is an organic molecule that has hydrogen bonds, making it highly stable and insoluble. When used in batteries, it was revealed that the conductivity and storage capacity were comparable to that of a cobalt-powered battery.

Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

A lithium-sulfur EV battery is in the works for several manufacturers, but a success story is yet to be written.

Currently, no lithium-sulfur batteries are commercially manufactured at scale, with one reason being their complexity.

A sulfur-based cathode undergoes a phase change as it charges and discharges. The sulfur compound basically dissolves into the electrolyte.

Many attempts to develop a functioning lithium-sulfur battery ended with unwanted results. Prototypes for this kind of battery almost always develop dendrites, which are metallic structures that cause short circuits and battery failure.

So, why do scientists continue to attempt to make a lithium-sulfur battery despite the low success rate?

A lithium-sulfur battery is low in density because of the moderate atomic weight of sulfur and the low atomic weight of lithium.

Sulfur is also an extremely abundant element unlike cobalt, making it more cost-effective. It can also hold more energy than traditional ion-based batteries.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

Garage Essentials
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

View all Questions & Answers

expand_more
CarParts.com Answers BE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY: Share your knowledge & help fellow drivers Join Now