There's a near endless list of things in automotive drivetrain technology that have changed since 1930. Oddly, the way scientists think about at how lithium-ion movement affects the performance of batteries is not one of them. Of course, not a lot of people were thinking about battery-electric drivetrains 80 years ago (the original battery-electric car era was long gone and gas-powered vehicles were the standard), but there is a lesson here.

Since the days of Herbert Hoover, scientists have essentially tied the performance of lithium iron phosphate batteries to how fast lithium ions can move from the liquid electrolyte to the solid electrode. The belief was based on what's called the Butler-Volmer equation and the details are a bit obtuse for chemistry-challenged reporters. More recently, however, a Japanese researcher using what's called the Marcus-Hush-Chidsey theory tied battery performance to how fast electrons move between the porous electrode and its carbon coating, Scientific American says, citing the journal Nature Communications. The key lines in the Scientific American report are the following:
  • "Researchers will therefore have to include electron transfer rates in their models for batteries or else real-world performance won't line up with simulations."
  • "Understanding the fundamentals better could one day unlock major performance gains in batteries" that "would enable a suite of clean technologies from grid batteries to smooth out power variations from wind turbines and solar panels to zero-emissions vehicles."
The research was spearheaded by Peng Bai, a postdoctoral associate at MIT, who found that the greater the battery voltage, the more important the electron-transfer rate becomes, meaning that this applies all the more to larger batteries. So while it remains to be seen how such a discovery will effect battery-electric drivetrain technology moving forward, the discovery may be a substantial one. It's unlikely we'll have to wait 80 years to find out.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      Joeviocoe
      • 9 Months Ago
      One thing that Danny King and Gorr have in common: They both are ignorant of the difference between Lead Acid batteries and Lithium Ion batteries. Basically, it is like the difference between Jay Leno's Steam Car engine, which never took off, and Internal Combustion Engine. Lead Acid batteries are/were nothing like Li-Ion, other than being able to be called a "battery". And the failings of Lead-acid, have no indications for how Li-Ion is succeeding.
        goodoldgorr
        • 9 Months Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Lead acid are just normal technology adapted to power a v8 engine starter for 2 to 5 second once in a wild. They discharge rapidly with lot of power and recharge at low pace and are cheap. No need to perfect them. They emit fume and are heavy so it cannot be employed in smartphones or portable computers. Lithium ion battery are more energy dence but cannot be discharged fast, if so they overheat. The only way they can power a car is if they are very big so they overheat less but this is more costly than an ice car for a given range/performance ratio. There is no lithium-ion battery to start ice engine cars even if it could be a nice attractive marketing seller point. IT'S urgent to bring hydrogen cars here now, not a year from now or in 2 years. I know it's bad for petrol stocks
          karlInSanDiego
          • 9 Months Ago
          @goodoldgorr
          "There is no lithium-ion battery to start ice engine cars even if it could be a nice attractive marketing seller point." Sorry Gorr, that's wrong. They've been selling Lithium ion batteries as drop in replacements to Lead Acid batteries for years. They're cost prohibitive, so they target ICE motorcycles and racecars. http://lithiumpros.com/product-category/racing/12v-batteries-racing/ http://www.braillebattery.com/ Just because Lead Acid was an underdeveloped technology for many many years, it doesn't mean better batteries won't come next. They already have.
          Joeviocoe
          • 9 Months Ago
          @goodoldgorr
          --"... batteries exist since 100 years ...So if it's been 100 years commercialized by the private companies for any kind of products then it's proven that it's a mature technologies so I don't understand why goverments are subsidizing battery researchs and are giving subsidies to battery cars" Right... " to power a v8 engine starter for 2 to 5 second once in a wild". That is the 100 years of battery development that is "mature". Lithium Ion batteries have only seen 15 - 20 years of real commercial development. And 80% of that time was dedicated to laptops. Which is why you and Danny are utterly confused.
      jebibudala
      • 9 Months Ago
      Basically what this article is saying is EV's should use 9-volts chained together in series?
      usugo
      • 9 Months Ago
      I am pretty sure that such issue, of enormous academic relevance, in practical terms it is just pointless. Fried air to get research grants and visibility
      goodoldgorr
      • 9 Months Ago
      Sure there is hope in batteries but one thing is sure is that batteries exist since 100 years and are commercialized since 100 years in many forms. So if it's been 100 years commercialized by the private companies for any kind of products then it's proven that it's a mature technologies so I don't understand why goverments are subsidizing battery researchs and are giving subsidies to battery cars, the're not gonna improve batteries because it's been 100 years that they try to do so. It's a proven failure for cars and tesla prove that with their subsidized costly car at 100 000$ for an ordinary car that can be purchased for 18 000$ on the regular market. This is only brainwash and marketing gimmick. This is waste of tax dollars. Since 100 years car manufacturers NEVER use batteries to power the cars and like Toyota they all say that batteries are a sub par devise compared to petrol ice. On the other hand all manufacturers are preparing hydrogen, this is the future because it can be perfected more then it is today. It is 2x more perfected then 10 years ago and it's not even commercialized as of yet. I said many time to build a hydrogen infrastructure now, charge by the kilogram by credit card, banking card of cash. I don't like that government helped by big oil and autobloggreen is still impeding the rollout of hydrogen cars by Honda, Toyota, huyunday, gm, Mercedes, etc. This website is own by big oil that said to goverments since 20 years to impede hydrogen and divewrt the attention toward dubious batteries. We lost 30 billions worldwide with batteries for nothing because it is wholeharthedly rejected by 99% of consumers. If it get a momentum in Norway it's because the subsidies make it artificially cheaper then petrol. Petrol versus the real cost of batteries if no tax are perceived of given will make petrol 99% of the market even in Norway. These scientists saying that they should study batteries are just doing pr marketing to keep their useless jobs Remember that any scientist discovering something lose his job at the same time because the boss doesn't need him anymore, so if they discover something they do 2 thing. First they don't tell their boss that they discover something and second they try to sell the discovery to the competitor of their boss. So if they work for the government, they will work for them for a long time but will sell the patent to somebody else in Russia, Saudi-Arabia, north-korea. iran.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 9 Months Ago
      Everything about this article is literally awful and wrong. The original paper is wrong, and then this is compounded by Danny's woefully incomplete knowledge of the subject matter. Business as usual at the #1 green car blog. We already have ultra high discharge/charge capable batteries. Have had them for a decade or longer. A123's nanophosphate batteries, lithium titanate, and particularly powerful lithium cobalt formulations have been around for a loooooong time. The issue is that their power is fantastic, but energy storage is less than ideal. That has always been the problem. Battery performance is as simple as measuring resistance across the charge/discharge cycle, then considering temperature's effects on that resistance. Any production EV car can already do grid storage and those other applications, the problem is converting AC to DC, and down/up stepping voltages ( exponentially more expensive to do more constant kilowatts you are dealing with ), not battery performance. If you want to enable bidirectional grid interaction applications, the best way to do it is to design the battery pack of the car to run on the voltage that the grid runs at, so you can skip the voltage up/down step. You also need to have the grid running at standardized voltages. This would cut hundreds thousands of dollars off of the price of each car to enable grid storage. All you would need is AC-DC conversion, voltage monitoring, and current limiting.
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