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Impact-Tolerant Electric Vehicle Batteries

Purdue University
Crash Safety of Batteries for Passenger Vehicle
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$798,932
Location: 
West Lafayette, IN
Project Term: 
12/02/2013 to 12/31/2015
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Driving range, safety, and cost remain the biggest hurdles in the way of mass electric vehicle (EV) adoption. Innovative approaches to EV battery manufacturing present the opportunity to maximize stored energy relative to the weight of EVs, allowing for up to three times the driving range. These new battery chemistries and designs prevent overheating, are immune to catastrophic failure, and can be incorporated into the structure of a vehicle to improve strength in some cases. Much of this can be accomplished at a 30% lower cost compared to conventional batteries, thus bolstering widespread adoption of EVs.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Purdue University is developing an EV battery pack that can better withstand impact during a collision. In contrast to today's EV battery packs that require heavy packaging to ensure safety, Purdue's pack stores energy like a standard battery but is also designed to absorb the shock from an accident, prevents battery failure, and mitigates the risk of personal injury. Batteries housed in protective units are arranged in an interlocking configuration to create an impact energy dissipation device. Should a collision occur, the assemblies of the encased battery units rub against each other, thereby absorbing impact energy and preserving the integrity of the battery pack. Purdue will build a prototype protective casing, create a battery array of several battery units using this design, and study the dynamic behavior of battery units under impact in order to develop a novel EV battery pack.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, Purdue's impact-tolerant battery would reduce vehicle weight and improve the energy of the vehicle plus battery.
Security: 
The mass adoption of EVs would diminish the demand for petroleum, dramatically reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Environment: 
Greater use of EVs would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
Economy: 
Technological advancements from the RANGE program could enable EVs to travel significantly further on a single charge at a much lower cost than that of current EVs and conventional vehicles.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Paul Albertus
Project Contact: 
Dr. Wayne Chen
Release Date: 
8/21/2013