Battery breakthrough could quintuple EV range

Close up of EV battery in car (range)
Image: Shutterstock

Scientists from the University of Michigan have developed a biologically-inspired membrane that could quintuple the charge capacity of EV batteries, increasing their range significantly, according to Independent.

The research team used recycled Kevlar—the material used in bullet-proof vests—to create a network of nanofibres similar to a cell membrane. They then used this to fix fundamental issues with the next-generation lithium-sulfur batteries.

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Despite having greater charge capacity, lithium-sulfur batteries have had insufficient lifespans that have stopped them from becoming commercial viable for EVs. However, the enormous potential of lithium-sulfur batteries means researchers around the world are rushing to try and make the technology viable.

“There are a number of reports claiming several hundred cycles for lithium-sulfur batteries, but it is achieved at the expense of other parameters: capacity, charging rate, resilience and safety,” said Nicholas Kotov, a professor of chemical sciences and engineering who led the latest research, published in Nature Communications.

“The challenge nowadays is to make a battery that increases the cycling rate from the former 10 cycles to hundreds of cycles and satisfies multiple other requirements, including cost.”

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The anticipated lifespan of 1,000 cycles would mean the average car battery would need to be replaced roughly every 10 years, while the materials used are far more abundant and less environmentally damaging than those used in lithium-ion batteries.

“Achieving record levels for multiple parameters for multiple materials’ properties is what is needed now for car batteries,” Prof Kotov said.

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