Recently Honda, Hyundai and Toyota finally admitted that PHEVs are vehicles with transitional technology. They are more complex, expensive and more prone to failure than simple BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles). Only advantage is range, but even this will soon be gone.
Amprius is a well known battery maker that builds very high energy density batteries for electronic devices, specially Android smartphones. This company is able to produce lithium cells with energy densities as high as 800-1.000 Wh/L and 325-400 Wh/kg. The secret for such high energy density cells is silicon nanowire anodes that only few companies have managed to produce while providing great lifespan (read the phys.org article in the links).
On June 29, Amprius will unveil its manufacturing tool to a select group of industry partners. This new tool for Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing is described as “Revolutionary” and will be able to produce bigger high energy batteries for electric vehicles.
Video demonstrating Roll-to-Roll Manufacturing:
Steven Chu that is former Secretary of Energy, Nobel Laureate and currently Amprius Board Member said this:
“In recent years, Amprius’ silicon anode technology has enabled batteries with ultra-high energy. This year, Amprius’ new tool is a significant advance towards high-volume and high-quality manufacturing.”
But what energy densities as high as 800-1.000 Wh/L and 325-400 Wh/kg mean?
For example it means that it is possible to triple the Renault Zoe’s battery capacity while maintaining the same volume. How cool would it be that the 26 kWh battery was upgraded to 78 kWh? The NEDC range would increase from 240 km to 720 km, or in the real world from 150 km to 450 km. Only a very small minority would still prefer hybrids over BEVs.
But energy density is not all a new manufacturing process has to offer. Contrary to what common sense believes, materials aren’t what make great changes in kWh cost. It’s the manufacturing process. Building a lithium cell is an intense energy and time consuming complex task, specially while we are still using liquid electrolytes. Every time a new manufacturing process reduces time, energy and complexity required to build a battery cell, it also reduces cost. For example, solid state cells can achieve the $50/kWh cost while still using most of today’s materials, because the manufacturing process is much simpler and faster without a liquid electrolyte.
Since Nissan and Amprius are partners I wouldn’t be surprised that when Nissan decides that they are serious about EVs they’ll use this battery technology.
As I always say, the technology to make EVs better in every way exists, but often the will to use it does not.
Let’s hope Tesla Model 3 is a success and make traditional automakers finally wake up.