Honda has announced a new discovery that might make batteries 10 times better than current lithium-ions.
The current standard in electric vehicles has been the same standard for rechargeable batteries for well over a decade. Lithium-ion batteries revolutionized personal electronics by providing a small, potent battery that could be recharged hundreds of times. Current electric cars use the exact same technology, only on a much larger scale.
In cars, leading EV manufacturers have already managed to get vehicles past the 300-mile mark making them a viable alternative to fossil fuels. However, challenges remain: it still takes much longer to recharge an electric vehicle than it does to refuel your car, and batteries do tend to weigh a lot more than a similar tank of gas.
But a new discovery may be a game changer for batteries. Scientists have discovered a new type of battery material that could make energy storage 10 times more efficient than lithium-ion batteries.
The magic material is actually just plain old fluoride--the same stuff that you slather on your teeth and brush around before you go to bed every night. Fluoride is the negatively charged double of lithium and so ends electrons in the opposite direction, but that doesn’t really matter so long as the electrons are moving and producing a current.
However, the problem with fluoride-ion batteries has always been getting them to work at room temperatures. Previously, fluoride had to be dissolved in an electrolyte that was at least 150 degrees C (or 302 degrees F) in order to work, which is a little hot for everyday purposes.
Now, a research team from Honda, NASA, and Caltech say they’ve developed a way of getting fluoride to dissolve at room temperature, opening the door to a brand new type of highly efficient battery.
The electrolyte is comprised of dry tetraalkylammonium fluoride salts dissolved in an organic, fluorinated ether solvent, while the cathode features a core-shell nanostructure of copper, lanthanum, and fluorine. Honda says this setup will not only be more efficient but also more environmentally friendly to produce.
Challenges remain for the fluoride battery before we see one in cars. The biggest one is making it so the anode and cathode don’t eventually melt into the electrolyte producing a giant toxic soup. But if researchers can figure out that last hurdle, we could get batteries that’ll make getting across the country easy as pie.