A project named IBM Battery 500 Project which is a gathering of more than 40 researchers trying to make a battery for electric cars that can be used for long distances. As the name implies, they hope to make a battery that can be used as far as 500 miles (+/- 800 km) only with a single refill.
Now IBM has joined the Lithium battery race - this announcement puts it on par with Toyota developing its 1000 km Lithium battery and we are still looking for confirmation from German DBM Energy about the progress to commercialise its Kolibri Lithium battery which is available now, according to the company.
The electric vehicle has to overcome three major hurdles if it is ever going to be a success with consumers. They need to charge fast, be cheap to buy, and have a decent range between charges.
At the moment, the range of electric vehicles is around about 100 miles on average, which may be adequate for most journeys, but certainly isn’t good enough. The issue is the battery technology in use today that relies on lithium-ion, and whose make-up is rather heavy and energy density not really high enough for use in a vehicle.
IBM has been developing an alternative though, using a type of battery previously thought unsuitable for long-term use in electric vehicles.
It’s called a lithium-air (Li-air) battery and uses carbon instead of metal oxides so it is therefore a lot lighter than an equivalent lithium-ion battery. As it uses oxygen there is no need to store a fuel, so Li-air also has a very high energy density, around 1000x that of lithium-ion batteries.
The one issue with Li-air is the fact the oxygen reacts with the conducting solution as well as the cathode. This drastically shortens the life of the battery and makes it unsuitable for use in cars. But IBM has a solution.
Physicists Winfried Wickle and Alessandro Curioni modeled the reactions inside a Li-air battery using an IBM Blue Gene supercomputer. They then tried different conducting solution materials to see if any could work without reacting with oxygen. They found one, but are not prepared to tell anyone what it is yet.
What they have managed to do is build a working prototype of a Li-air battery capable of offering electric vehicles a 500 mile range. A final prototype of this battery is expected by the end of 2013, and then if all goes well it will be used in electric vehicles by 2020.
That’s seven years away, but hopefully by then we’ll have a number of other advancements, such as creating a car that achieves 444 mpg, that allow an even greater range.
Read more at New Scientist"
London, Jan 7 : A multinational technology and consulting corporation claims to have solved the fundamental problem of range anxiety faced by owners of electric vehicles (EV).
Range anxiety is a driver's distressing fear that the battery charge will not get them to their destination.
Now, IBM has come up with a battery with an 800-kilometre (500-mile) range that lets EVs potentially compete with most petrol engines for the first time.
Standard electric vehicles use bulky lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries that rarely provide 160 kilometres (100 miles) of driving before they run down.
A newer type of battery, known as a lithium-air cell, is more attractive because it has theoretical energy densities that are more than 1000 times greater than the Li-ion type, which puts it almost at par with gasoline.
Lithium-air cells use carbon, which is lighter and react with oxygen from the air around it to produce an electrical current, instead of using metal oxides in the positive electrode.
According to Winfried Wilcke, a physicist at IBM's Almaden laboratories, based in San Jose, California, the new technology suffers from the drawback of chemical instabilities that limit their lifespan when recharging, making them impractical for use in cars.
Wilcke studied the underlying electrochemistry of these cells using a form of mass spectrometry and found that oxygen is reacting not just with the carbon electrode but also with the electrolytic solvent, which is the conducting solution that carries the lithium ions between the electrodes.
If the electrolyte reacts with the oxygen when the car is in use it will eventually be depleted.
Wilcke worked with his colleague Alessandro Curioni from IBM's Zurich research labs in Switzerland, and used a Blue Gene supercomputer to run extremely detailed models of the reactions to look for alternative electrolytes.
Surioni said that their work included a form of atomistic modelling right down to the quantum mechanics of the components.
"We now have one which looks very promising," New Scientist quoted Wilcke as saying.
Although Wilcke hasn't revealed what material it is, but he said that several research prototypes have already been demonstrated. (ANI)"