Electric vehicle battery technology is constantly advancing and, thanks to Department of Energy [DOE] grants and loans under the Robust Affordable Next-Generation Energy Storage Systems [RANGE] program, universities and battery companies are taking a crack at it.
The way things are going with electric vehicle battery packs, energy density is constantly rising, while costs are steadily dropping. As late as a year ago, rechargeable battery packs were worth up to $700/kWh, which would make the 85kWh Tesla Model S battery worth about $60,000 alone. Some analysts predict that battery pricing could drop to $250/kWh in the next couple of years.
Princeton University recently received a RANGE grant, just shy of $1 million, to develop alkaline electric vehicle battery packs? Alkaline batteries are what we’re used to seeing in portable radios and some mp3 players, flashlights, and toys, but electric vehicles? The idea seems to have merit for a couple of reasons. First, the elements used in alkaline batteries, zinc, manganese, and potassium, are far more abundant than lithium, and therefore cheaper. Second, alkaline batteries are nearly as energy-dense as lithium-ion cells, the current standard for electric vehicle battery packs.
According to AllAboutBatteries.com, alkaline batteries cost about 19¢/Wh, packing 110Wh/kg, while lithium-ion batteries cost about 47¢/Wh and pack 128Wh/kg. If Princeton University can develop a rechargeable alkaline electric vehicle battery pack, the cost savings alone could make electric vehicles much more affordable. Electric vehicle batteries make up a significant portion of vehicle cost, which has led some to believe that perhaps electric vehicles could be more affordable by separating the cost of the battery from the vehicle itself.
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