No more wet batteries: Imec makes breakthrough in electric car technology

Summary

Tired of waiting for that battery to charge? Nano-tech research centre imec has a prototype that lasts longer and charges faster

Liquid to solid

Leuven nano-technology research centre imec has announced a major breakthrough in the battery performance of electric vehicles. The innovation would make charging the batteries much faster.

Flanders and the rest of Europe have seen a constant annual increase in the number of electric cars on the road. Though the environmental benefits of driving an electric vehicle are clear, their batteries have a short life span, which has an impact on consumer interest.

In current electric vehicles, the lithium-ion batteries are “wet”, as in the electrolytes, which ensure the lithium ions are moving smoothly between the poles of the battery, are liquid. This leads to a low battery range and long battery charging times: up to four hours at a loading station and up to eight hours when a normal outlet is used.

Researchers at imec have created a new battery that would instead use a solidified electrolyte. This prototype uses a nanocomposite material that starts as a liquid, but converts into a solid material.

The new technology has the potential to extend battery duration by 50%. The solidified electrolyte will also create a higher energy density and increase charging speed to two hours maximum for an empty battery.

“That, together with a longer lifetime and improved safety, makes this a promising compact battery technology for tomorrow’s vehicles,” said Philippe Vereecken of imec.

The company is hopeful that this new milestone will help them surpass wet lithium-ion battery performance by 2024.