Automotive

Aluminum-Celmet material could boost the range of electric vehicles by 200 percent

Aluminum-Cemet at 40x magnification
Aluminum-Cemet at 40x magnification
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Aluminum-Cemet at 40x magnification
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Aluminum-Cemet at 40x magnification

Range anxiety, the fear that such vehicles will leave the vehicle's occupants stranded well short of their destination, remains one of, if not the main barrier to the widespread adoption of EVs. A new material developed by Japanese company Sumitomo Electric could help allay such fears by potentially improving the capacity of lithium-ion batteries by 1.5 to three times, and therefore extending the range of EVs by an extra 50 to 200 percent. That would give a Nissan LEAF a range of up to 109 to 219 miles (175 to 352 km) or a Tesla Roadster a range of up to 366 to 732 miles (589 to 1,178 km) - enough to assuage the range anxiety of the most fretful drivers.

The material in question is called Aluminum-Celmet that features an Aero bar-like, three-dimensional mesh-like structure that forms interconnected, open and spherical pores. Sumitomo Electric had previously been producing its proprietary Celmet material made from nickel or nickel chrome alloy. Its high porosity of up to 98 percent and favorable filling, retaining and current-collecting performance when used with an active material, led to Celmet recently being adopted as a positive electrode current collector in hybrid vehicle nickel-hydrogen batteries. It is also easy to process the porous metal into various shapes by cutting and stamping.

Using a similar process used for producing nickel Celmet, the company has now succeeded in developing Aluminum-Celmet that shares the high porosity of Celmet, but is lighter, offers greater electrical conductivity and excellent corrosion resistance - all attributes that make it attractive for use in lithium-ion batteries for EVs and other batteries operating at high charge/discharge voltages.

Sumitomo Electric says that by replacing the aluminum foil used for the positive electrode in conventional lithium-ion batteries with Aluminum-Celmet's three-dimensional mesh-like structure increases the amount of positive active per unit area. According to the company's trial calculations, the material could increase the capacity of electric vehicle onboard battery packs 1.5 to 3 times. This could extend the range of electric vehicles using the same volume battery pack by an extra 200 percent, or maintain the existing range while reducing the battery volume by one to two-thirds.

While electric vehicles are the most immediately obvious use for extended capacity batteries, Sumitomo points out that such technology also holds advantages for reducing the physical footprint of home-use batteries for storing power from solar and other renewable sources, as well as fuel cells. Similarly, the material can also be used for improving the capacity and reducing the footprint of capacitors.

Sumitomo Electric has set up a small-scale production line in Osaka in an effort to accelerate development of Aluminum-Cemet with an eye towards mass production and commercialization for such applications.

Via Autoblog Green

19 comments
Jacob Shepley
tesla with range 732 miles...just after plugging it in to the power grid it costs me around $150 AUD to go 730 miles in petrol. i want an electric car!
EddieStarr
Can you imagine a Hybrid Electric Vehicle getting an Extra 300 Miles Per Charge? Well it is not that far away from happening, Aluminum-Celmet is part of the future plan for highly sustainable energy and transportation.
Steve Sterley
Nice.... Possibly the most important technology that we will be advancing this decade! Bring on the future.
Mike Kling
This will make private electric planes feasible. http://airventure.org/electric/prize.html
scooter1
This is great news- aluminum is a wonderful thing.
Muraculous
This is great but the batteries will still need to be charged. Unless we can also charge the batteries at a faster rate, having larger capacity means that we can only benefit from our first full charge. This may be great for commuters and shopping moms (because it really means that cold whether and/or accessory use will not prevent the car from being used in a normal fashion) but for constant use or longer trips ,one still has to recharge or swap the battery pack(s). Whether the range extender is a gas, diesel or micro-turbine engine (or other on-board device such as alkaline aluminum fuel cell) it is the method of achieving subsequent charges that will determine where and how the vehicle can be used. For the family with three cars, this may not be a particular issue but for the younger, single or older person (or commercial use vehicle) the car/truck will be called on to perform at least as well as today\'s diesel vehicles - and that should be the starting point.
Frank191
Hmmm, sceptic about that one. Changing only the positive electrode and gaining twice the power without changing the rest of the battery? Where is that power coming from? Sounds like witchcraft to me. I can understand that a highly porous aluminium electrode facilitates the electron transport, therefore increasing a little bit the efficiency of the battery overall, but twice the power? That would mean that half of modern lithium battery\'s energy is lost at the positive electrode. I have a hard time to believe that. Can anybody enlighten me on that?
billybob222
Another wonderful advance but it doesn\'t mean we have to put 75-100 KWH of batteries in a car- Volt drivers with an effective range of 35 electric miles so far uses electricity for about two thirds of their driving- it is estimated an increase to 60 miles would allow 80% use of electricity for driving and an 80 mile electric range would allow 90% use of electricity for driving- after 80-100 miles of electric range you\'re in rapidly diminishing returns- after you get to 80-100 mile battery range a small 15-20 KW genset that can use a biofuel makes more sense.
Burnerjack
Billybob222, it is a valid point as to how much electrical storage is reasonable. What makes it more important is the energy density. Petroleum provides a packaging solution that allows additional space for things besides fuel. A bit off topic now.... for EVs to be truly marketable may be as simple as selling the vehicle independent of the battery system. Who wants to spend $15000 or more on a battery to have it obsolete in two years? Leasing batteries may make more sense in the long run. Another aspect of battery storage is auxillary charging through the use of full roof coverage solar cells. Not enough to drive on, but, parked at work for eight hours may be enough for many shorter trip commuters. For a Mazda Miata maybe not, fot a Minivan, maybe. Tailoring the battery performance curve for different driving styles may also make more marketing sense. In all cases, economics has to rule the day or EVs will continue to be marginalized.
DixonAgee
This one seems odd. Changing an electrode triples the energy that can be stored or released by the cell? If true, there is some really bad cell design out there. I think we should wait for the demo battery before swallowing this story.
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