Most of today’s electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries—the same kind of batteries used in cell phones and laptop computers. Currently, Li-Ion batteries enable a driving range typically limited to 100 miles on a single charge and account for nearly 65% of the total cost of EVs. In the absence of improved Li-Ion batteries, there is a need to develop new energy storage technologies—such as high energy capacitors—that can work in conjunction with these batteries to increase the driving range of hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).
Project Innovation + Advantages:
The University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) is developing an energy storage device for HEVs that combines the properties of capacitors and batteries in one technology. Capacitors enjoy shorter charging times, better durability, and higher power than batteries, but offer less than 5% of their energy density. By integrating the two technologies, UCSB’s design would offer a much reduced charge time with a product lifetime that matches or surpasses that of typical EV batteries. Additionally, the technology would deliver significantly higher power density than any current battery. This feature would extend EV driving range and provide a longer life expectancy than today’s best EV batteries.
If successful, UCSB’s modified capacitors would improve both the driving range and lifetime of today’s hybrid EVs, enabling widespread use of alternatively fueled vehicles and contributing to our economic and national security.
Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil—the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.
Greater use of EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
The ability to make higher performance batteries at a lower cost will give U.S. battery manufactures a significant and enduring advantage over their foreign competitors.