May 27, 2020

Scientists Devise New Ways to Improve Electric Vehicle Batteries

In their quest to reduce range anxiety among electric vehicle users, manufactures have been making large lithium-ion batteries. These batteries are very unconventional since they occupy a lot of space. To solve this challenge, scientists from German and US have been working round the clock and have devised an ultrasensitive detector. The detector has magnetometers which can produce an image of the magnetic field in a battery. The innovation will help reveal defects in the battery and also show the driver how much electric charge is remaining in the vehicle.

According to scientists, this innovation of ultrasensitive full gauge will also curb the existing challenge of “over-discharging” among inexperienced electric vehicle users. Over discharging happens when an electric vehicle keeps running despite being below a certain level of charge and could lead to the self-destruction of the battery. This is different from an internal combustion engine, as the car will simply stop whenever it is out of gas. The procedure in use at battery factories is to remove some batteries from the assembly line and take them apart, which may introduce flaws. The new magnetometers will also help discover tiny defects before more substantial symptoms arise. These defects may occur due to the impact of batteries during manufacturing or while in use. The innovation will also help to reduce the expansive and invasive process the batteries go through during production.

This innovation of ultrasensitive fuel gauge borrows closely from the MRI concept in the medical filed. The MRI uses a combination of radio frequencies, a large magnet, and a computer to produce an image that can reveal any abnormalities in the spine, brain or other organs. This is the same principle the magnetometer uses to deliver an image of the magnetic field in a battery, which can reveal defects and level of charge. The new concept can soon lead to powerful and lighter lithium-ion batteries, and this will expand the field of application for batteries, to even being to power aircraft.

Dmitry Budker, a leading scientist in magnetometry from Germany, together with Professor Alexej Jerschow from the United States, have been working together to design a prototype which is already up and running. They are currently planning on identifying a suitable market for the new device, mainly in electric vehicle companies and battery companies. If this technology is applied on a large scale, it will help solve the issues of disposal for used batteries as they only last in cars for ten years.

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