Electric motors are replacing combustion engines in vehicles thanks to the tremendous progress in battery development, but issues remain in navigating transportation with battery technologies.
Electrified vehicles represent a growing share of the automotive market, increasingly replacing internal combustion engine vehicles. This imposes great demands on energy storage technologies, currently dominated by lithium-ion batteries. Yet, despite tremendous progress in recent decades, lithium ion-powered vehicles still face huge challenges to meet the requirements needed to ease range anxiety and achieve mass market penetration.
This Insight offers a perspective on relevant practical issues for batteries in real automotive applications. It discusses state-of-the-art automobile battery materials and chemistry, production processes and their relationship to product performance, battery safety modelling and simulations, and the suitability of various energy technologies for different transportation markets.
Professor M Stanley Whittingham is a pioneering researcher in the development of lithium-ion batteries at Binghamton University and Kent Snyder leads battery research and development at Ford Motor Company. Nature Energy caught up with both during the Nature Conference on Materials Electrochemistry: Fundamentals and Applications held in China in January 2018.
Perspective and Reviews
Battery safety is a key focus in the design of electrified vehicles. Here, the authors survey literature approaches for modelling and testing battery safety under abuse conditions, and propose a multi-physics modelling and testing framework for real applications.
Electrification is seen as the future of automotive industry, and deployment of electric vehicles largely depends on the development of rechargeable batteries. Here, the authors survey the state-of-the-art advances in active materials, electrolytes and cell chemistries for automotive batteries.
Recent years have seen significant growth of electric vehicles and extensive development of energy storage technologies. This Review evaluates the potential of a series of promising batteries and hydrogen fuel cells in their deployment in automotive electrification.
The battery manufacturing process significantly affects battery performance. This Review provides an introductory overview of production technologies for automotive batteries and discusses the importance of understanding relationships between the production process and battery performance.
Large-scale adoption of electric vehicles will only occur if the needs of individual drivers are met. Here the authors present a model of the energy consumption of personal vehicles in the USA, allowing an evaluation of the adoption potential of electric vehicles.
Electrification of transport offers many benefits for the energy transition but introduces a number of complexities around the electric system. This study undertakes modelling of residential power demand and electric vehicle use to understand the impact of uncoordinated vehicle charging on the electricity load.
Electrical energy storage is expected to be important for decarbonizing personal transport and enabling highly renewable electricity systems. This study analyses data on 11 storage technologies, constructing experience curves to project future prices, and explores feasible timelines for their economic competitiveness.
Electric vehicles are only as green as the electricity used to charge them, but owners tend to charge vehicles at times of peak use. This study shows that tailored emails increase engagement with information about time-of-use tariffs, with maximal effects within the first three months of ownership.
Alternative fuel technologies are crucial to decarbonize transport, but attention has shifted among options over time. This study presents an analysis of media, innovation and funding data for these different options and recommends actions to help move beyond hype to support technology adoption.
Safety issues have been a long-standing obstacle impeding the large-scale deployment of rechargeable batteries especially for those with organic electrolytes. Here the authors report fire-extinguishing organic electrolytes, which enable long-term cycling Li-ion and Na-ion batteries.
Thermal effects on batteries, both due to external variations and internal fluctuations, significantly impact their performance. Ajayan and colleagues survey recent advances in understanding the thermal effects on individual battery components.
Micrometre-size silicon particles are desirable battery anode materials but are even more prone to structure degradation than nanoscale particles. Here, graphene cages grown conformally around the micro-silicon particles are shown to improve their cycling stability.
There is intensive research underway into the development of fuel cells. Here, the authors present a proton exchange membrane fuel cell based on quaternary ammonium-biphosphate ion pairs, offering promising performance under a wide range of conditions that are unattainable with conventional technologies.
Nanomaterials design may offer a solution to tackle many fundamental problems in conventional batteries. Cui et al. review both the promises and challenges of using nanomaterials in lithium-based rechargeable batteries.
Approaching the limits of cationic and anionic electrochemical activity with the Li-rich layered rocksalt Li3IrO4
Anionic redox provides extra capacity for battery electrodes, but it is challenging to realize its full potential. Tarascon and colleagues report a record-high reversible capacity of 3.5 electrons per Ir in a Li3IrO4 phase, and discuss the importance of increasing the ratio of oxygen versus transition metal.
Enabling the high capacity of lithium-rich anti-fluorite lithium iron oxide by simultaneous anionic and cationic redox
It is challenging to exploit anionic redox activity to boost performance of battery electrodes, especially for anti-fluorite structures. Here the authors report simultaneous anionic and cationic redox in Li5FeO4, which enables its high capacity and eliminates the undesired oxygen gas release.
Positive electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries feature lithium element and lithium-ion conduction paths. Here the authors report transition metal monoxides that contain neither the intrinsic lithium nor conduction channels for high-capacity positive electrode materials.
Aqueous Li-ion batteries have considerably lower energy density than their non-aqueous counterparts. Here the authors report a room-temperature hydrate metal salt electrolyte that, when coupled with a spinel Li4Ti5O12 electrode, displays an energy density of 130 Wh kg−1.
A common problem for thick electrodes in lithium-ion batteries is slow ionic transport. Here, the authors present a particle-alignment method that uses a low magnetic field and show that the lithium diffusion path is improved for an aligned thick graphite electrode, leading to a better rate capability.
Electrode materials with pores generally have high tortuosity, which is detrimental to battery performance. Here the authors develop a magnetic alignment approach that produces battery electrodes with low-tortuosity porosity and high capacity.
There is an intensive research effort in suppressing the first-cycle lithium loss in lithium-ion batteries. Now, a cathode prelithiation method with nanocomposites of conversion materials is demonstrated to compensate the initial lithium loss and improve the battery performance.
Electricity storage will benefit from both R&D and deployment policy. This study shows that a dedicated programme of R&D spending in emerging technologies should be developed in parallel to improve safety and reduce overall costs, and in order to maximize the general benefit for the system.