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Long-range, low-cost electric vehicles enabled by robust energy storage

  • Ping Liu (a1), Russel Ross (a2) and Aron Newman (a2)

A variety of inherently robust energy storage technologies hold the promise to increase the range and decrease the cost of electric vehicles (EVs). These technologies help diversify approaches to EV energy storage, complementing current focus on high specific energy lithium-ion batteries.

The need for emission-free transportation and a decrease in reliance on imported oil has prompted the development of EVs. To reach mass adoption, a significant reduction in cost and an increase in range are needed. Using the cost per mile of range as the metric, we analyzed the various factors that contribute to the cost and weight of EV energy storage systems. Our analysis points to two primary approaches for minimizing cost. The first approach, of developing redox couples that offer higher specific energy than state-of-the-art lithium-ion batteries, dominates current research effort, and its challenges and potentials are briefly discussed. The second approach represents a new insight into the EV research landscape. Chemistries and architectures that are inherently more robust reduce the need for system protection and enables opportunities of using energy storage systems to simultaneously serve vehicle structural functions. This approach thus enables the use of low cost, lower specific energy chemistries without increasing vehicle weight. Examples of such systems include aqueous batteries, flow cells, and all solid-state batteries. Research progress in these technical areas is briefly reviewed. Potential research directions that can enable low-cost EVs using multifunctional energy storage technologies are described.

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