Thermal Batteries for Electric Vehicles

University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin)
Thermal Batteries for Electric Vehicles
Graphic of UT Austin's technology
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$2,602,961
Location: 
Austin, TX
Project Term: 
11/21/2011 to 11/20/2014
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Critical Need: 
The transportation sector is the dominant source of U.S. dependence on foreign oil and a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions. Enabling more widespread use of electric vehicles (EVs) would reduce both our dependence on foreign oil and our harm to the environment. Inefficient heating and cooling systems can limit the driving range of EVs by acting as a drain on their batteries. More efficient technologies are needed to provide heating and cooling to EVs without draining the on-board battery packs, in effect extending the driving range of EVs per electric charge. These efficient technologies may also enable thermal management of internal-combustion engine vehicles.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
UT Austin will demonstrate a high-energy density and low-cost thermal storage system that will provide efficient cabin heating and cooling for EVs. Compared to existing HVAC systems powered by electric batteries in EVs, the innovative hot-and-cold thermal batteries-based technology is expected to decrease the manufacturing cost and increase the driving range of next-generation EVs. These thermal batteries can be charged with off-peak electric power together with the electric batteries. Based on innovations in composite materials offering twice the energy density of ice and 10 times the thermal conductivity of water, these thermal batteries are expected to achieve a comparable energy density at 25% of the cost of electric batteries. Moreover, because UT Austin's thermal energy storage systems are modular, they may be incorporated into the heating and cooling systems in buildings, providing further energy efficiencies and positively impacting the emissions of current building heating/cooling systems.
Impact Summary: 
If successful, UT Austin's thermal energy storage system would extend the driving range of EVs and cost 75% less than current heating and cooling systems.
Security: 
Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil--the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.
Environment: 
Greater use of EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
Economy: 
This technology would increase the marketability of EVs--helping spur growth in the automobile industry.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. James Klausner
Project Contact: 
Prof. Li Shi
Partners
SinoEv