Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is developing an electrolyte for use in EV batteries that changes from liquid to solid during collisions, eliminating the need for many of the safety components found in today’s batteries. Today’s batteries contain a flammable electrolyte and an expensive polymer separator to prevent electrical shorts—in an accident, the separator must prevent the battery positive and negative ends of the battery from touching each other and causing fires or other safety problems. ORNL’s new electrolyte would undergo a phase change—from liquid to solid—in the event of an external force such as a collision. This phase change would produce a solid impenetrable barrier that prevents electrical shorts, eliminating the need for a separator. This would improve the safety and reduce the weight of the vehicle battery system, ultimately resulting in increased driving range.
If successful, ORNL’s new impact-resistant electrolyte would reduce the amount of shielding needed for EV batteries, ensuring safety while decreasing overall weight and increasing driving range.
The mass adoption of EVs would diminish the demand for petroleum, dramatically reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
Greater use of EVs would reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
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.