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Power Transportation

How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper 143

ashshy writes Argonne National Lab is leading the charge on next-generation battery research. In an interview with The Motley Fool, Argonne spokesman Jeff Chamberlain explains how new lithium ion chemistries will drive down the cost of electric cars over the next few years. "The advent of lithium ion has truly enabled transportation uses," Chamberlain said. "Because if you remember your freshman chemistry, you think of the periodic table -- lithium is in the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table. Only hydrogen and helium are lighter on an atomic basis."
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How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

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  • by schlachter ( 862210 ) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @12:14AM (#47717947)

    I think electric cars are the future. Some will debate me on that, but I'm not interested in that debate.

    Where are we likely to be in 15 yrs? 2x current capacity? 4x current capacity? 10x current capacity? Where are the growing pains?

    How much better/cheaper can lithium ion batteries get? What will they be replaced with? What's the end game?

  • Re:Economic risk (Score:2, Interesting)

    by voights ( 919055 ) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @04:38AM (#47718703)
    It isn't by electronegativity, though. See []
  • Re:Fire (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Rei ( 128717 ) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @05:45AM (#47718877) Homepage

    Nuh uh! There are also compressed air cars - they only explosively decompress upon tank failure! ;)

    At least with batteries, flammability or explosiveness aren't a fundamental requirement of how you're trying to propel the vehicle, just an unfortunate side effect of some variants of the technology (even not all types of li-ions are flammable). There's lots of people who assume that flammability is a consequence of electrical energy density, but that's just not the case. The actual charge/discharge lithium batteries via intercalating into the anode or cathode is more an atomic-scale equivalent of compressing air into a tank, you're having little affect on the substrate flammabilities and you're not even changing their chemical bonding, you're just cramming lithium ions into the space between their atoms. The flammabilty of some types comes from side effects, such as flammable electrolytes or membrane failures leading to lithium metal plating out; these aren't a fundamental aspect of the energy storage process.

    Now, li-air, that involves an actual lithium metal electrode, and that is fundamentally flammable. Of course, so is gasoline. I have no doubt that they can reduce fire risks on li-air cells and keep them properly contained to prevent failure propagations. My bigger issues with li-air are its terrible efficiency, lifespan, and cost. I'm certain the latter would come down, and I expect that they can improve the lifespan, but I'm a bit uneasy about how much they can improve its efficiency. Right now, they're as inefficient as a fuel cell. : Who wants to waste three times as much power per mile as is necessary?

Think of it! With VLSI we can pack 100 ENIACs in 1 sq. cm.!