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:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is developing an abuse-tolerant EV battery. Abuse tolerance is a key factor for EV batteries. Robust batteries allow for a broader range of battery chemistries, including low-cost chemistries that could improve driving range and enable cost parity with gas-powered vehicles. ORNL’s design would improve battery abuse tolerance at the cell level, thereby reducing the need for heavy protective battery housing. This will enable an EV system that would be lighter and more efficient, both reducing weight and cost and allowing the vehicle to drive further on each charge. ORNL will be researching a new architecture within each cell that will reduce the likelihood of a thermal damage in the event of an abuse situation. The new architecture incorporates a novel foil concept into the battery current collectors. In event of impact, crushing or penetration of the battery, the novel current collector will limit the connectivity and/or conductivity of the battery electrode assembly and hence limit the current at the site of an internal or external short. Limiting the current will avoid the local heating that can trigger thermal excitation and battery damage.
If successful, ORNL’s design will enable an impact-resistant, light-weight, and efficient EV battery that offers cost-party with existing gas-powered vehicles.
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.