Lithium-Ion Battery Inventor Claims Autonomous Cars Need Better Batteries
Electric vehicles have come a long way thanks to strides that have been made with lithium-ion batteries. Affordable battery-powered cars now boast a range that's usable, with the Chevrolet Bolt featuring a range of 238 miles and the upcoming Tesla Model 3 boasting a range of 310 miles. Last August, a Tesla Model S P100D owners managed to cover 670 miles on a single charge, which is incredible.
While that's an impressive figure, especially by today's standards as the majority of drivers are having a hard time seeing the light with electric vehicles, that last example is an outlier. Batteries are going to have to get better if the vehicles are going to be widely accepted. According to one of the inventors of the lithium-ion battery, battery makers will have to rethink their technology if automakers and tech companies will meet their lofty goals for driverless cars, reports Bloomberg.
Batteries Have To Improve In Multiple Ways
According to the report, batteries will not only have to become more powerful in order to help extend electric vehicles range, but will also have to handle all of the costly hardware and software items that allow for driverless capabilities. Akira Yoshino, an inventor that helped create the lithium-ion battery back in 1985, believes that durability will also play a large role in the next generation of batteries.
"A car shared by 10 people means it will be running 10 times more," said Yoshino, who's an honorary fellow at Asahi Kasei Corp., the largest maker of separators used in batteries in the world, claims Bloomberg. "Durability will become very important."
According to Yoshino, battery producers need to focus on lowering costs and improving energy density. In addition to that, battery manufacturers need to move towards using materials that can stand up to being expanded and contracted regularly. Yoshino claims that meeting these requirements will be easier if battery producers aren't overly concerned with increasing energy density, which is the most prominent aspect of batteries allowing for more driving range.
"Cars are a completely new application, and we'll have to wait until we find out what kind of batteries will really be needed," said Yoshino. "The future of batteries depends on what will happen to the future of the automobile society."
The Race To Build Lithium-Ion Batteries
According to Bloomberg, Asahi Kasei, back in the 1980s, began researching polyacetylene, a conducting polymer discovered by Japanese chemist and Nobel Prize winner Hideki Shirakawa, in his laboratory. Asahi Kasei built a lithium-ion battery using polyacetylene as the anode, claims the outlet, but eventually switched to carbon later on. Sony Corp. beat Asahi Kasei to the punch by commercializing a lithium-ion battery for its cell phones back in '91. Asahi Kasei, though, entered into a partnership with Toshiba Corp. in '92 to make and sell a lithium-ion battery of their own.
"I thought it would be a boon to tap into the 8-mm-video camera market," said Yoshino, referring to an outdated format, reports Bloomberg. "Mobile phones, laptops, and computers just kept multiplying, but no one was thinking about cars."
Just like with cameras and mobile phones, cars are evolving at a rapid pace and, as Bloomberg claims, autonomous cars are now set to come out by 2020. With drastic changes expected to take place within the next few years, battery producers are going to have to make multiple changes to ensure that automakers and tech companies can make EVs capable of handling futuristic tasks. Which is why some are starting to look into solid-state batteries.
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