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Aluminum-Celmet material could boost the range of electric vehicles by 200 percent

By

July 18, 2011

Aluminum-Cemet at 40x magnification

Aluminum-Cemet at 40x magnification

Range anxiety, the fear that such vehicles will leave the vehicle's occupants stranded well short of their destination, remains one of, if not the main barrier to the widespread adoption of EVs. A new material developed by Japanese company Sumitomo Electric could help allay such fears by potentially improving the capacity of lithium-ion batteries by 1.5 to three times, and therefore extending the range of EVs by an extra 50 to 200 percent. That would give a Nissan LEAF a range of up to 109 to 219 miles (175 to 352 km) or a Tesla Roadster a range of up to 366 to 732 miles (589 to 1,178 km) - enough to assuage the range anxiety of the most fretful drivers.

The material in question is called Aluminum-Celmet that features an Aero bar-like, three-dimensional mesh-like structure that forms interconnected, open and spherical pores. Sumitomo Electric had previously been producing its proprietary Celmet material made from nickel or nickel chrome alloy. Its high porosity of up to 98 percent and favorable filling, retaining and current-collecting performance when used with an active material, led to Celmet recently being adopted as a positive electrode current collector in hybrid vehicle nickel-hydrogen batteries. It is also easy to process the porous metal into various shapes by cutting and stamping.

Using a similar process used for producing nickel Celmet, the company has now succeeded in developing Aluminum-Celmet that shares the high porosity of Celmet, but is lighter, offers greater electrical conductivity and excellent corrosion resistance - all attributes that make it attractive for use in lithium-ion batteries for EVs and other batteries operating at high charge/discharge voltages.

Sumitomo Electric says that by replacing the aluminum foil used for the positive electrode in conventional lithium-ion batteries with Aluminum-Celmet's three-dimensional mesh-like structure increases the amount of positive active per unit area. According to the company's trial calculations, the material could increase the capacity of electric vehicle onboard battery packs 1.5 to 3 times. This could extend the range of electric vehicles using the same volume battery pack by an extra 200 percent, or maintain the existing range while reducing the battery volume by one to two-thirds.

While electric vehicles are the most immediately obvious use for extended capacity batteries, Sumitomo points out that such technology also holds advantages for reducing the physical footprint of home-use batteries for storing power from solar and other renewable sources, as well as fuel cells. Similarly, the material can also be used for improving the capacity and reducing the footprint of capacitors.

Sumitomo Electric has set up a small-scale production line in Osaka in an effort to accelerate development of Aluminum-Cemet with an eye towards mass production and commercialization for such applications.

Via Autoblog Green

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
19 Comments

tesla with range 732 miles...just after plugging it in to the power grid

it costs me around $150 AUD to go 730 miles in petrol. i want an electric car!

Jacob Shepley
18th July, 2011 @ 01:52 am PDT

Can you imagine a Hybrid Electric Vehicle getting an Extra 300 Miles Per Charge? Well it is not that far away from happening, Aluminum-Celmet is part of the future plan for highly sustainable energy and transportation.

EddieStarr
18th July, 2011 @ 02:00 am PDT

Nice.... Possibly the most important technology that we will be advancing this decade! Bring on the future.

Steve Sterley
18th July, 2011 @ 06:27 am PDT

This will make private electric planes feasible.

http://airventure.org/electric/prize.html

Mike Kling
18th July, 2011 @ 07:26 am PDT

This is great news- aluminum is a wonderful thing.

scooter1
18th July, 2011 @ 07:58 am PDT

This is great but the batteries will still need to be charged. Unless we can also charge the batteries at a faster rate, having larger capacity means that we can only benefit from our first full charge. This may be great for commuters and shopping moms (because it really means that cold whether and/or accessory use will not prevent the car from being used in a normal fashion) but for constant use or longer trips ,one still has to recharge or swap the battery pack(s).

Whether the range extender is a gas, diesel or micro-turbine engine (or other on-board device such as alkaline aluminum fuel cell) it is the method of achieving subsequent charges that will determine where and how the vehicle can be used. For the family with three cars, this may not be a particular issue but for the younger, single or older person (or commercial use vehicle) the car/truck will be called on to perform at least as well as today's diesel vehicles - and that should be the starting point.

Muraculous
18th July, 2011 @ 08:19 am PDT

Hmmm, sceptic about that one. Changing only the positive electrode and gaining twice the power without changing the rest of the battery? Where is that power coming from? Sounds like witchcraft to me. I can understand that a highly porous aluminium electrode facilitates the electron transport, therefore increasing a little bit the efficiency of the battery overall, but twice the power? That would mean that half of modern lithium battery's energy is lost at the positive electrode. I have a hard time to believe that. Can anybody enlighten me on that?

Frank191
18th July, 2011 @ 11:13 am PDT

Another wonderful advance but it doesn't mean we have to put 75-100 KWH of batteries in a car- Volt drivers with an effective range of 35 electric miles so far uses electricity for about two thirds of their driving- it is estimated an increase to 60 miles would allow 80% use of electricity for driving and an 80 mile electric range would allow 90% use of electricity for driving- after 80-100 miles of electric range you're in rapidly diminishing returns- after you get to 80-100 mile battery range a small 15-20 KW genset that can use a biofuel makes more sense.

billybob222
18th July, 2011 @ 11:39 am PDT

Billybob222, it is a valid point as to how much electrical storage is reasonable. What makes it more important is the energy density. Petroleum provides a packaging solution that allows additional space for things besides fuel.

A bit off topic now.... for EVs to be truly marketable may be as simple as selling the vehicle independent of the battery system. Who wants to spend $15000 or more on a battery to have it obsolete in two years? Leasing batteries may make more sense in the long run.

Another aspect of battery storage is auxillary charging through the use of full roof coverage solar cells. Not enough to drive on, but, parked at work for eight hours may be enough for many shorter trip commuters. For a Mazda Miata maybe not, fot a Minivan, maybe. Tailoring the battery performance curve for different driving styles may also make more marketing sense.

In all cases, economics has to rule the day or EVs will continue to be marginalized.

Burnerjack
18th July, 2011 @ 02:31 pm PDT

This one seems odd. Changing an electrode triples the energy that can be stored or released by the cell? If true, there is some really bad cell design out there. I think we should wait for the demo battery before swallowing this story.

DixonAgee
18th July, 2011 @ 07:31 pm PDT

I am with Frank 191: this seems to be another gizmag's half baked cookie if not a full and wholesome snake product. They already reported INCREDIBLE (some 100 times and similar rates) of improvements in efficiency of lithium batteries ['nanotechnology'] based on wishful thinking or rather a publicity hoax by 'an MIT student' with exactly the same pattern: one 'critical' component was [potentially] enhanced. The rest was untouched. Nothing came out of it, of course. Not to be trusted.

nehopsa
18th July, 2011 @ 07:40 pm PDT

How many tons of coal do you need to burn to charge your "green" automobile? Could it be that all-electric, hybrid, and combustion engines have different "ideal" applications? I'm just thinkin' . . .

Ronald Grover
19th July, 2011 @ 05:18 am PDT

@Ronald: I get what you are saying, and agree that we need to think about where the energy comes from. I think, however, that the ideal would be to opt into some renewable energy plan from your power provider (or produce it at home/work/point of use), and use that energy to power your vehicle. The big draw for electric is that MOST people would need to recharge it over night, which is the "non-peak" hours.

Joshua David
19th July, 2011 @ 03:00 pm PDT

I'm more interested in seeing a smartphone battery that'll last me a whole day...

The trouble with these 'announcements' is they often come from the Lab and the inventor hopes the technique can be scaled up to large manufacturing size. However quite often reality gets in the way and it isn't followed through. It also takes 10-15 years for new things like this to go into production.

We're still waiting for 'cheap as chips' OLED TVs 10 years later...

Stuart Halliday
19th July, 2011 @ 05:43 pm PDT

I can't hlep but wonder how many of the negative comments are comming from people who work directly or indirectly for the oil industry. They will go to anything to stop electric vehicles. After all, they bought the company that created the NiMH batteries for electric vehicles many years ago and then stopped production of the battery and sued anyone that build anything like them to be used for electric cars. Check out ev1.org to learn more. Also check out the movie, "Who killed the electric car." Electric cars are finally back and here to stay. It seams, if they cannot buy them out and shut them down, they will do all they can to turn the public against them, or discredit them.

Vaughn Avery
19th July, 2011 @ 06:47 pm PDT

There is just way too much interest in EVs for the technology to just fade away. It will keep progressing. I think the idea of leasing the batteries is an excellent idea and the concept should be allowed to flourish. As to the cost of the vehicle without batteries, the costs still need to come down. I need a much cheaper, no frills option but dependable! And the size of the mostly in-town city car needs to stay very small!

Will, the tink
20th July, 2011 @ 02:00 am PDT

I can't hlep but wonder how many of the negative comments are comming from people who work directly or indirectly for the oil industry. They will go to anything to stop electric vehicles. After all, they bought the company that created the NiMH batteries for electric vehicles many years ago and then stopped production of the battery and sued anyone that build anything like them to be used for electric cars. Check out ev1.org to learn more. Also check out the movie, "Who killed the electric car." Electric cars are finally back and here to stay. It seams, if they cannot buy them out and shut them down, they will do all they can to turn the public against them, or discredit them.

I suspect none, they come from people who know that these announcements are made on a regular basis but rarely see practical applications, go read battery news from 10 years ago and see how much of it is in use today. I can see how this news might help but battery manufactures are a conservative bunch and if this works I would bet it will be at least 3 years before you can buy one with this technology

katgod
20th July, 2011 @ 05:14 pm PDT

I'm no engineer, but visually, the increase would be directly attributable to the massive increase in surface area for electrons to attach.

That being said, theory does not always equate to fact. At a mere 40x magnification, I fail to see how the use of this material is not reduced by any forming processes closing the gaps which are not affected by using foil. Just thinking out loud...

L8RB
26th July, 2011 @ 10:54 am PDT

CARS and HOME STORAGE???? F that stuff this would be a game changer for handicapped people, and their wheelchairs, oxygen producing, or even electric powered prosthetic devices. Combine this with the Google self driving car and I could become completely independent again. With current technology ( AGM) I am limited to a 9 mile radius with my wheelchair. Believe me I do that distance almost everyday. This would be a game changer for me. I was hoping Lithium Titinate was the holy grail but that has seemed to fizzle.

David Brodhecker
14th June, 2014 @ 07:39 am PDT
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