Battery autonomy is a major issue for the deployment of electric vehicles. Their lifespan also appears to be critical. And researchers are announcing today that they are able to produce batteries capable of powering electric cars over some 1.6 million kilometers without almost losing performance. The next Tesla brand models should be equipped with it.
According to Elon Musk, the Tesla Model 3 battery can undergo some 1,500 charge cycles – the equivalent of 800,000 km traveled – with a minimum of degradation. He even announced that, from 2020, the batteries on board Tesla electric cars will have a lifespan of some 1.6 million km. And work published by researchers at Dalhousie University (Canada) today seems to confirm that it is possible.
The team – which has signed an exclusivity contract with Tesla – describes in an article a lithium-ion battery which “should be able to power an electric vehicle for approximately 1.6 million km” while not losing not more than 10% of its energy capacity. A description rich in detail and intended, according to the authors, to serve as a reference for other researchers.
The battery in question is thus constituted:
- a cathode based on lithium-nickel-manganese-cobalt oxide (NMC);
- an anode in graphite artificial;
- and an electrolyte – for transporting lithium ions from one electrode to another – composed of a lithium salt mixed with other compounds.
Nothing really new on the ingredients side, according to the experts.
Already a new evolution of this battery?
It is rather in the structure of the cathode that innovation should be sought. Instead of using small NMC crystals, engineers at Dalhousie University turned to larger crystals. According to them, such a monocrystalline nanostructure is less likely to crack when the battery is charged, thus increasing both its life and its performance.
Because, of course, energy density remains a major issue in the world of electric cars. What motorists are looking for is autonomy . An even more critical question when we imagine creating fleets of long-haul electric trucks. And the work of researchers at Dalhousie University finally seems to make it possible to reconcile lifespan and autonomy.
They claim to have been able to charge and discharge their battery more than 4,000 times with a loss of only 10% of energy capacity. Whereas in 2014, similar batteries were presented as losing half of their capacity after only 1,000 cycles.
A few days ago, Tesla and the team at Dalhousie University patented a battery almost identical to this one, but including an electrolytic additive called ODTO. An additive that would be able to further boost the performance and lifespan of batteries while reducing costs!