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4 Battery Chemistries that Could Change Electric Vehicles

A typical EV battery pack
A typical EV battery pack

Right now, lithium-ion technology is king when it comes to electric vehicle batteries, but scientists are hard at work to find something even better.

In a matter of decades, new battery technology for cleanly-fueled cars will drop prices and increase efficiency more than lithium-ion technology could ever accomplish. In the future, look forward to letting these get you where you need to go:

1. Solid State Batteries

You guessed correctly, this battery is made from solid parts. Solid state batteries are therefore sturdier, and are less likely to leak electrolytes or catch fire. They can withstand a greater range of temperatures, even without cooling, and have longer lifetimes than current electric vehicle batteries. Major car companies such as Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors are already developing solid state batteries for electric cars.

2. Aluminum-ion Batteries

This emerging technology is similar in design to lithium-ion batteries, but uses aluminum for the anode instead of lithium. Aluminum-ion batteries can charge faster and will be cheaper than anything available on the market today. Scientists at Stanford recently improved cyclability using a graphite cathode, so these batteries have a lot of promise.

3. Lithium-sulfur Batteries

Electric vehicle batteries need both  an anode and a cathode to work; sending electrons back and forth between the two is what generates electricity. Lithium-sulfur batteries replace the cathode, traditionally made from lithium, with one made form sulfur-carbon. This makes them cheaper and more efficient than current models, but they can have harmful environmental effects when discarded. Scientists at NASA and Oxis Energy are working to solve this problem.

4. Metal-air batteries

These batteries match an anode made from metal while the cathode is simply ambient air that can pass an electrical current. Cathodes are heavy, so removing them makes the batteries significantly less costly and saves important resources for use elsewhere. However, it is difficult to get enough oxygen into the cathode or get a sufficiently long life from the battery, so time will tell if this great idea works out or not.

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