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Advancements In Electric Car Batteries
Advancements In Electric Car Batteries
Depending on the model, electric cars are equipped with hundreds or thousands of separate battery cells. The cells cannot be densely packed together as preferred.
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Depending on the model, electric cars are equipped with hundreds or thousands of separate battery cells. Each one is surrounded by a housing, connected to the car via terminals and cables, and monitored by sensors. The housing and contacting take up more than 50 percent of the space. Therefore, the cells cannot be densely packed together as preferred. The complex design steals space. A further problem: Electrical resistances, which reduce the power, are generated at each connection of the small-scale cells.

Under the brand name EMBATT, Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Ceramic Technologies and Systems IKTS and its partners have transferred the bipolar principle known from fuel cells to the lithium battery. In this approach, individual battery cells are not strung separately side-by-side in small sections; instead, they are stacked directly one above the other across a large area. The entire structure for the housing and the contacting is therefore eliminated. As a result, more batteries fit into the car.

Through the direct connection of the cells in the stack, the current flows over the entire surface of the battery. The electrical resistance is thereby considerably reduced. The electrodes of the battery are designed to release and absorb energy very quickly. With this new packaging concept, Fraunhofer hopes to increase the range of electric cars in the medium term up to 1000 kilometers.

The most important component of the battery is the bipolar electrode - a metallic tape that is coated on both sides with ceramic storage materials. As a result, one side becomes the anode, the other the cathode. As the heart of the battery, it stores the energy. The teams used their expertise in ceramic technologies to design the electrodes in such a way that they need as little space as possible, save a lot of energy, are easy to manufacture and have a long life. Ceramic materials are used as powders. The scientists mix them with polymers and electrically conductive materials to form a suspension. This formulation has to be specially developed - adapted for the front and back of the tape, respectively. Fraunhofer applies the suspension to the tape in a roll-to-roll process.

The next planned step is the development of larger battery cells and their installation in electric cars. The partners are aiming for initial tests in vehicles by 2020.
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