Creating the Impossible Dream Electric Car Battery

By Bill Moore

The ideal electric car battery holds lots of energy, recycles 10,000 times and recharges in seconds. Oh yes, and it's dirt cheap: until now that's been an impossible dream. UCLA researcher Maher El-Kady, working at the California Nanosystems Institute may just have discovered the formula for just such a supercapacitor hybrid battery.

It could be the answer to every EV lover's dream: a energy storage medium that is cheap, stores lots of energy, charges up lightning fast and runs on forever! Well, maybe not forever, but how's 10,000 charge-discharge cycles sound to you?

Like an impossible dream, maybe?

Assuming there are no unexpected hiccups along the way, such a dream 'battery' based on the principle of melding the qualities of a supercapacitor with a battery could be just over the horizon, possibly as soon as within the next five years.

The key person at the spear tip of this exciting development is Maher El-Kady, a research graduate at UCLA's California Nanosystems Institute. He and his faculty advisor, Professor Richard Kaner (picture at the left in the above photo) took their research into energy storage down to the nano-scale (single atom) level, asking the key question of how to incorporate the properties of a capacitor - high power storage, fast charge/discharge - into a battery application where high energy storage but slow charge/discharge are both a benefit and drawback.

Up to this point, research into a hybrid supercapacitor battery has focused on the macro-level, looking for a way to marry to disparate physical devices: one electrical and the other chemical into a viable system. One of the earliest EV World has come across was the AFS Trinity Extreme Hybrid back in the 2007-2008 time frame. Do a search on EV World for 'hybrid supercapacitor' and see how many stories come up.

What Kaner and El-Kady did was identify the atom-level properties associated with each storage system and ask how to best blend the two. Here's what UCLA's original press release stated.

"…researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have successfully combined two nanomaterials to create a new energy storage medium that combines the best qualities of batteries and supercapacitors."

"The new hybrid supercapacitor stores large amounts of energy, recharges quickly and can last for more than 10,000 recharge cycles."

"The LSG–manganese-dioxide capacitors can store as much electrical charge as a lead acid battery, yet can be recharged in seconds, and they store about six times the capacity of state-of-the-art commercially available supercapacitors."

Those statements caught my attention and spurred me to reach out to El-Kady to talk about his research and its implications, which you'll hear about in the 26-minute Skype video below. The quality of the video isn't very good, but the quality of the information is first rate. Listen and learn. The perfect EV battery may be just around the corner.

EV World Dialogue Interview

Times Article Viewed: 11241
Originally published: 14 Apr 2015


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