Not only are the vehicles we drive getting more advanced, so are the batteries powering the EV market. Do you know what type of battery is in your vehicle?
Emily MacKinnon, Executive Assistant in
An electric vehicle is a vehicle that uses one or more electric motors for propulsion eliminating the need for combustion engines and creating a cleaner alternative. Electric vehicles are also known as EVs, which stand for 'electric vehicles.' EVs can be motor-driven bicycles, cars, buses, trucks and who knows what else in the future with companies like Canadian Pacific Rail looking at electric trains. Cars are the most common form of EVs. In this article, we will talk about the 5 different types of batteries that can be used in EVs, such as Lithium-ion, nickel-metal, lead-acid, ultra-conductors, Solid-state, and vehicles they can be found in.
The Lithium-ion battery is used most popularly in electrical devices such as laptops and phones and now electric vehicles. The first EV to use this battery was the 1996 Toyota Prius. Sony did the world's first mass production of these batteries in 1991. These batteries can be found in many electric vehicles, including Telsa models, Fords Mustang Mach-E and Nissan Leaf. The disadvantage to these batteries is that they can take up to 3 hours to recharge depending on your charging method compared to different vehicles, which only take 30 minutes to recharge their batteries. Lithium-ion batteries are costly to make, causing their prices to be higher than other types of batteries. They work by having lithium ions move from the negative electrode (anode), through an electrolyte, to the positive electrode (cathode), where chemical reactions release energy in the form of heat and electricity. The electrolytes used in these batteries include Lithium cobalt oxide, lithium manganese oxide, or lithium iron phosphate. These batteries have a much higher energy density when compared to nickel-metal hydride battery which is why they are preferred for cars.
Toyota produced the first fully electric vehicle using nickel-metal hydride technology in 1996. The first mass production of nickel-metal hydride batteries was by Toshiba, Daimler-Benz, and Motorola in 1997. Nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are used in plug-in hybrids such as the Chevrolet Volt, the Honda Accord PHV, and the Kia Soul EV. These cars can run on either electricity or petrol. They have a maximum speed of 130km/h, and they can go nearly 640 kilometres without recharging their batteries, which takes just 3 minutes with fast charging! The NiMH takes 8 hours to recharge its batteries compared to other cars with Lithium-ion batteries, which only take 3 hours to recharge their batteries. EV charging stations are the only thing that drivers of these cars can use when they're on the road as they take around 8 hours to recharge their batteries. It is very safe and durable as it will not explode even if it is damaged. The advantage that nickel-metal hydride batteries have over other batteries is that their energy density is higher than different types of batteries. The disadvantage to this type of battery is that its life span isn't as long as lithium-ion batteries.
Lead Acid batteries are used in almost every car today alongside the combustion engine to power nonelectric vehicles today. These batteries can take up to 8 hours to charge compared to other types of Lithium-ion batteries, which only take 3 hours to recharge their batteries. Lead-acid car batteries weigh 50kgs, and they also need air conditioning systems that use more energy than most other types of car battery which means that drivers of these cars cannot turn on their air conditioners when they're on the road because this would drain their batteries. The energy stored in Lead-acid batteries is low compared to other batteries, which is making an entire vehicle with these batteries makes the vehicle a lot heavier than need be. However, their safety is their advantage over different types of car batteries, such as lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride. They are not explosive, and there is no chance of catching on fire even if they are damaged. Also, lead-acid batteries do not need a lot of maintenance, and they can last for more than ten years before they need to be replaced.
Ultra-conductors are another form of electric vehicle batteries with a higher energy density when compared to other types of batteries. They also have a much lower weight than different car batteries, such as lead-acid or nickel-metal hydride. However, the disadvantage that ultra-conductors have is that they need very high temperatures to work, which means that these cars cannot be used in cold climates where there might be snow (-40 degrees). Electric vehicles with this type of battery include the 2011 Renault Fluence Z.E., the 2020 Nissan Pivo2, and the Mitsubishi i-MiEV none of these vehicles are available in Canada because of the temperate rating. Also, ultra-conductors only allow for a minimal number of charges, and they will only last up to 5 years.
Solid-state batteries are not used in any electric vehicles…Yet. Toyota (with Panasonic as a partner) has announced recently their $13.6 Billion dollar investment in battery advancements for EV’s, however not all that money will be strictly solid-state they have mentioned it will be the large majority of their focus as they recognize the potential it holds. Other companies have made similar commitments as well.
Solid-state batteries can make electric vehicles much faster than they already are as they can reduce the resistance inside the battery, increasing the voltage and current supplied by the storm. This gives more power to accelerate the car, making it go from 0-100km in just 2 seconds! However, this does not significantly impact the speed of cars with ultra-conductors as they already have very high rates even without reducing internal resistance. Solid-state batteries are lighter, making them easier to carry around, so when they get utilized in electric vehicles, they wouldn't need air-conditioning systems to keep temperatures. This is a huge advantage as while driving with the air conditioning system on will be able to drive for longer without having to recharge its batteries.
In conclusion, electric cars use different batteries, and each style has its benefits and disadvantages. The type of battery used in each electric vehicle depends on the other features and design of the car, making them faster or allowing them to drive for longer distances. However, regardless of what type of battery is used, they all have one thing in common: they provide a cleaner alternative to gas-powered cars and help save our environment!
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