New battery material could boost efficiency of electric cars by a factor of ten


Electric cars have one major problem: Especially in the case of long drives, owners have to make too many stops to charge the battery. Now a group of researchers from Toyota and Tohuku University (in Northern Japan) announced progress on their work to do away with this inconvenience.

They were able to make single crystals of lithium cobalt oxide, a chemical compound used in the production of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles (the picture above shows a li-ion battery for hybrid vehicles Hitachi unveiled back in April).

Existing lithium-ion batteries have a cathode that contains graphite and polycrystal lithium cobalt oxide with the graphite improving the performance of the cathode but also requiring space that could be theoretically used to store more lithium ions.

The researchers say it will take up to ten years to develop a cathode with no graphite and single crystals of lithium cobalt oxide but that the end result is a powerful battery for electric cars, which can store 10 times more electrical charge. As a result, electric cars could travel ten times farther than they can today.

Via Nikkei [registration required, paid subscription]