Electric and hybrid vehicles have changed the way people drive, but too many drivers still shy away from these cars due to the cost of replacement batteries and the time commitment required for a full charge. Fortunately, changes are coming, and newer batteries could provide more power with a fraction of the charging time.
Changes to Battery Structure
A complete overhaul in battery structure may be just around the corner. According to The Wall Street Journal, scientists are working to produce battery components using materials with larger-than-ever storage capacity. Batteries contain an anode and a cathode, and an electrical current is generated when ions travel from the anode to the cathode. Currently, graphite is used in most anodes. Scientists believe that replacing that graphite with silicon would result in as much as a 30 percent increase in battery capacity. These batteries have great potential when it comes to hybrid and electric vehicles. BMW has already released plans for a plug-in vehicle using these batteries, expected to hit the market in five years with a 30 percent increase in range over similar hybrids and electric vehicles.
Instantly Rechargeable Batteries
Researchers at Purdue University have big plans for a membrane-less battery that charges almost instantly. The IF-Battery would allow drivers to fill their vehicles with fluid electrolytes that would re-energize spent battery fluids. Used electrolyte fluid would be dropped off at existing gas stations to be collected for recycling or re-use, and drivers would replace their fluid at the same location. This eliminates two of the most significant problems with electric and hybrid vehicles: the lack of expensive charging infrastructure and the time commitment drivers must make to keep their vehicles fully charged. The new battery design is safer, more affordable, and environmentally friendly, and it could completely change the way we think about hybrid and electric cars.
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