Sign up for the MACH newsletter

You have been successfully added to our newsletter.

A daily newsletter charting the future: From technology to the scientific breakthroughs changing our lives.

Electric cars' driving range may be set for a big step forward

New battery-making technique could allow vehicles to cover three times the usual distance before needing a fresh charge.
by Chelsea Gohd, Futurism /
Image: Tesla
Tesla 2020 RoadsterTesla
Get the Mach newsletter.

In brief: A major difficulty in electric vehicle adoption is their battery capacity and range. One new study could help us potentially triple electric car range, hopefully supporting the global break from fossil fuels.

BATTERY BREAKTHROUGHS

As increasingly more companies and governments move to reduce dependence on fossil fuels, it is becoming apparent that electric car ranges must be further increased. We must expand battery life and output in order to both contend with and surpass gas-powered vehicles. To contend with this necessity, companies like Tesla, Toshiba, Panasonic, and Samsung are making great strides in improving range and battery capacity, but all have yet to fully surpass significant hurdles.

However, a new paper by researchers at the University of Waterloo claims that the use of negative electrodes made of lithium metal could “dramatically increase battery storage capacity,” which could in turn drastically improve capabilities of electric-powered vehicles.

The paper, published in the journal Joule, details how scientists added a compound made up of phosphorus and sulfur elements to the electrolyte liquid, which carries charge within batteries. The team claims that this compound reacts with the lithium metal electrode in a battery to “spontaneously coat it with an extremely thin protective layer.” This protection, supposedly, allows for the use of lithium metal electrodes within batteries, which adds greater storage capacity, without risks or degradation. This improvement could triple the range of these nascent vehicles.

ELECTRIC REVOLUTION

On a small scale, this breakthrough may increase capacity of batteries and battery systems. But, if these are implemented in electric vehicles, it wouldn’t just be a slight improvement to the technology. Battery capacity and range are currently the Achilles’ heel of the energy revolution that are keeping electric cars in second place to fossil fuel-powered vehicles.

So, not only could this development give a major boost to electric vehicle technology, it could ultimately have a definitive impact on the environment and the continued efforts against the progression of climate change. If, or when, electric cars become the primary vehicles on the road, emissions could be drastically reduced, bettering our chances of continued survival on planet Earth.

"Electric Car Range May Soon Triple, Thanks to New Research" was originally published by Futurism, LLC on Dec. 12, 2017 by Chelsea Gohd. Copyright 2017. Futurism, LLC. All rights reserved.

FOLLOW NBC NEWS MACH ON TWITTER, FACEBOOK, AND INSTAGRAM.

Get the Mach newsletter.
MORE FROM mach