Chemistry Change Makes Safer Electric Car Batteries

Argonne scientists discovered they could make a molecule based on boron and fluorine and add a tiny amount of it to each cell to control charging.

Published: 25-Aug-2009

The powerful lithium-based batteries used in electric vehicle systems, laptops and cell phones are prone to overheating and even blowing up, but adding less than a gram of a new substance could keep both temperatures and costs down, federal researchers say.

The molecule, developed by researchers Khalil Amine and Zonghai Chen at Argonne National Laboratory, is being tested as an additive in the electrolyte of lithium batteries to keep cell voltage from going too high.

The batteries used in hybrid and electric vehicles typically consist of 200 to 400 small cells, strung together into one powerful whole. Individual cells sometimes overcharge, emitting heat when they reach too high a voltage and pushing neighboring cells past the breaking point to set off a runaway thermal reaction.


Under the $2 million purchase order, Valence will supply lithium phosphate battery systems over the next four months.

French battery company is on hunt for future lithium supplies. Video includes interview with Vincent Bollore and preview of the 'BluEcar'.

The company has created a nickel zinc (NiZn) battery that has 35 percent higher power and energy density than NiMH, but is half the cost of a lithium-ion battery.


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