Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The 500-Mile EV


Imagine an EV that can drive from New York to Florida in two to three charges. It seems too good to be true, but it may be in our driving future.

In the fall of 2009, IBM kicked off its Battery 500 Project. The goal was to develop a car battery that can deliver up to 500 miles per charge. Battery technology is a tough business - innovations have been few and far between. The favored lithium-ion batteries can’t compete with gasoline in terms of energy density; and they certainly can’t deliver a 500 mile range.
IBM researchers have found something that can do the job: lithium-air. Just as conventional internal combustion engines operate by combining gasoline and air, lithium-air allows for a flow of oxygen to enter the battery. The chemical reaction that results produces up to 10 times the density of standard lithium-ion batteries. Forty scientists and engineers and several different labs are working on the project. They still have a year to go before they can determine whether the technology can be put to commercial use.

If they can pull this off, the EV market will receive a serious shot in the arm. Lithium-air batteries could support a family-sized sedan. Travelers could go on all-electric, guilt-free road trips, with no range anxiety. Less plug-in stations would need to be installed across the country.

Simply, an EV would make more sense for more people.

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