New Battery Could Help Make Charging Electric Cars A Whole Lot Less Of A Pain

Illustration for article titled New Battery Could Help Make Charging Electric Cars A Whole Lot Less Of A Pain

It seems like researchers in the United Kingdom are just as fed up with electric-vehicle ranges as the folks unplugging each other’s cars in California, and they might have just found a solution to the problem.


The scientists developed a new battery able to travel over 400 miles between charges, according to a release by the University of Cambridge. That’s further than both the Tesla Model S and Model X (not combined, but it’s getting there—the Model S ranges 270 miles per charge, and the Model X just under 250). For an idea of the range of more economical electric cars, the Nissan Leaf reports an average range of 84 miles per charge.

But for now, those ranges are likely to remain the norm—the Cambridge group expects the new “ultimate” battery to remain out of the hands of the public for at least another decade. When the battery does become available to consumers, the researchers said that it would be “a fifth the cost and a fifth the weight of those currently on the market.”

The new creation is a lithium-oxygen battery able to be charged over 2,000 times, with an energy density 10 times that of the lithium-ion battery currently being used in electric vehicles. While alternatives to lithium-ion batteries have been in the works for years, previous attempts haven’t performed well or been very efficient.

That’s not to say that this new lithium-oxygen technology is perfect yet—after all, anything that has an estimated arrival time of over a decade into the consumer market has a few kinks to work out. Problems left to be solved include prevention of explosions by short circuiting (no big deal, right?) and dealing with air that is not purely composed of oxygen.

One of the scientists on the team, Tao Liu, said that there’s a lot of work left to do, but research suggests that there are ways to solve the existing problems.

As far as plans for working those problems out, Cambridge professor Clare Grey—one of the chemists in the group—stated in the release:

“While there are still plenty of fundamental studies that remain to be done, to iron out some of the mechanistic details, the current results are extremely exciting – we are still very much at the development stage, but we’ve shown that there are solutions to some of the tough problems associated with this technology,” said Grey.


Problems or not, Grey said that the technology shows that it can lend itself to a practical device. There you have it, folks—the future of electric vehicles continues to charge forward.

Yes, I will see myself out now.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Don Ryan

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dsigned001 - O.R.C. hunter

I’ve said it multiple times and I’ll say it again : the major barrier to widespread electric adoption isn’t energy density or charge timetime. It’s cost. If the tesla battery pack was $5000 instead of $50000 it would cut the cost of the model S in half. A $60000 P90D would destroy every other car in its segment. It already does at $120000.