DHL EV TV Episode 3 – EV Battery Technology: Future Innovations

DHL EV TV Episode 3 – EV Battery Technology: Future Innovations

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- Hello, welcome to EV-TV. The series that tells you everything you need to know about electric vehicles and battery technology. (introductory music) I'm Brendan Coogan, freelance reporter, documented petrol head and now EV warrior. The future is all about a more sustainable approach to, well, everything really I'm with that in mind, I'm here at the UK Battery Industrialisation Centre, near Coventry, a battery production development facility to enable the upscale of battery manufacturing. Anyway, back to electric vehicles or EVs as we now call them. It's predicted that by 2040, 55% of all new vehicle and car sales will be EVs.

And all of that technological advancement is spearheaded as usual by motor sport. (motor sport commentary) - Hello again, it's me, Adrien Dedieu from DHL team EV, experts in Auto Mobility and electric vehicle logistics. Whether you work in a battery or electric vehicle manufacturing company, in a car dealership or any business that's related to the future of electric vehicles.

Well, this series is made for you In today's episode, we'll be looking into something crucial to make the electric vehicle revolution happen. I'm talking of course about the new technologies of batteries that will be coming to market soon. Battery technology is evolving faster and faster, so it's definitely not the end of the story. The Chinese company CATL is the biggest electric vehicle battery manufacturer in the world. And it's just recently announced a 16 year 2 million kilometre battery. This battery has been developed actually with Tesla experts, Tesla experts who were supposed to release their 1 million mile vehicles this year.

Unfortunately, it's been postponed due to the pandemic. What's interesting with this new battery technology is that it brings a cost per kilowatt hour just below the $100 mark. Many experts believe that below this mark, car makers would be able to sell their electric vehicles, at the same price as gasoline vehicles. There's also a new kid on the block, and this is Graphene technology. Graphenano is a Spanish company that has developed a battery that has a range of about 700 kilometres.

Nothing new you tell me, however, this technology is allowing a full charge within just eight minutes. Talking about charging EVs quickly, does it really damage your EV battery? (upbeat music) - Who paid attention during chemistry lessons at school? Well, let's see, you'll remember what an electrode is. One of the major limitations of battery power, energy and lifecycle is the design and material used for the electrode. So what can we do about it? Okay. I've come into the lab now to talk to professor David Greenwood from WMG who leads WMG's program of electric vehicle and battery research.

David, thank you for joining us. Let's start with some basics, first of all. - Sure. So this is effectively the basic unit that we build up a large battery pack for a car from - Okay - This is a 21 x 700 cell. All that means is it's 21 millimeters diameter and it's 70 millimeters long.

So sometyhing like a Tesla would have about four and a half thousand of these types of cells. - Wow. And that battery pack overall would weigh somewhere around 600 kilograms. - That's a large portion of the vehicle then. - It's a big part of the cost as well. It's about half of the cost of the vehicle.

- What's actually going on inside that cell? - So if I was to open up this cell and please don't do this at home, but what you'd find inside is a jelly roll. It's what the Americans call a Swiss roll. So it's again to referred to as a jelly roll. - Okay.

- And inside here, what you'll find are sheets of material wrapped around each other, just like a Swiss roll. And if I unwrap this one for you, put that down for a moment, then you'll be able to see that. So this white material that you can see on the outside is called a separator.

And it's basically an electrical insulator that sits between the positive and the negative sides of the battery. - Okay. - And what you can start to see emerging now is a piece of copper foil, and it's got this gray coating on it. And the copper foil is the anode in the cell.

- All right. - So on here is a coating that's made of graphite. So that silvery color looks a bit like the lead that you might see in a pencil, it's no coincidence. And that coating's made up of tiny particles, each of them about 10 microns across. So maybe just a little bit bigger than a talcum powder grain. - Okay.

- And that's mixed into a slurry and painted onto this coating. And if I keep unwrapping this a bit further, so what you can start to see emerging now is the second foil. Now this is actually printed on aluminum and this is our Cathode material. So this is the clever bit inside the cell.

So this is typically our nickel, cobalt, manganese material, which is going to help store the energy inside the cell. One of the challenges that we've got as a battery industry is to be able to choose cheaper materials and more sustainable materials to make batteries from in the future. So for instance, the cell that I have here has cobalt inside that electrode, and Cobalt's a very expensive material, there are also some challenges in sourcing it. Most of it comes from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

- Right - Not all of it is ethically sourced. So this is a for instance, one of the materials that we're engineering out with the research we do today. - So that brings me on to what sorts of materials might be used instead of those, which again would be common.

- So what we'd like to do is to replace things like these nickel and cobalt and manganese materials with much cheaper and much more easily available materials. So for instance, we can use, what's called a lithium ion phosphate cell, and very effectively this coating is made from an iron that's I R O N phosphates. And that can do the same job as this nickel, cobalt, manganese.

It's not quite as good as that job. So you don't store quite as much energy. You don't deliver quite as much power, but it's much cheaper and it's much more sustainable.

Not everybody buys a car that does 0 to 60 in two seconds. And so not everybody is going to need something which has the premium battery chemistry in it. Most people will buy the most affordable solution to do what they want.

And actually with something like a lithium ion phosphate battery, you can get to about 150 miles real world range with something that's much cheaper than for instance, a nickel cobalt, manganese chemistry. - Where do you think this technology will go in the long-term future? - Hopefully we move from a battery construction like this to something called a solid state battery. And what we do there is we get rid of all of this white stuff that you can see here, which is our separator material. We get rid of that anode foil that I showed you there we just keep this foil here And we put a thin coating of material on it, which serves the purpose of this separator and electrolytes. And then we put a tiny thin layer of lithium on the top to serve the entire purpose of this anode. And you can imagine that makes the battery much smaller, much more compact and much more energy dense.

- There's of course, energy density, is one of the things that everybody's talking about in terms of range, rather than initial power, but range. - Oh right. That's right. The energy density determines how much, how much energy can we pack into the volume available in the vehicle? And it's the volume that matters actually more than the mass. So the higher, the energy density, the more range we can give the vehicle.

Right now, we can make electric cars that will drive 300 miles. What we can't do is make them at a price that everybody can afford. - Let's jump 50 years into the future, 2070 Whats battery technology like and is everything electric? - I'd love to know the answer to that. I think the, I don't think everything will be electric is first thing - Right - But for road transport, you know, everything from your electric assisted bike up to your 12 ton truck, I'm pretty sure that's going to be battery electric. - David, it's been an absolute pleasure.

Thank you very much. I feel a little bit enlightened, but probably more confused. - Well in the future, solid state batteries may prove a significant improvement.

The technology will mean electric vehicles can travel 80% further than an electric vehicle with a more traditional battery. There are other advantages too, they retain more than 80% of their capacity after 800 charging cycles. They're non-combustible. In today's EV battery, one of the main restrictions to performance is in regards to volumetric energy density. The best current lithium ion batteries have an energy density of a little over 700 watt hours per litre of electrolytes.

This would normally convert to a maximum driving range of approximately 300 miles or 500 kilometres. But the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology has created a solid state battery for electric vehicles that has a 500 mile or 800 kilometre range and can be recharged more than 1000 times. Their prototype is approximately 50% smaller by volume than a conventional lithium ion battery.

How do they do that? by using a nano composite layer of silver carbon, which measures only five microns thick about as thick as a red blood cell. We know advances are rapidly being made with other approaches such as aluminum, cryotechnology and lightweighting. So the question is, are the different technologies now converging to create a better, safer, and more environmentally friendly battery for EVs in the not too distant future.

- The convergence of EV technologies is the future of electric mobility, next generation e-drive systems are just around the corner. Magna International soon to be launched, eTellingent Reach powertrain will dramatically improve driving dynamics, safety and battery range. Along side powertrain advancements, Come the latest ADAS systems. One example being from lucid motors, this system enhances a vehicle's ability to see its surroundings using advanced camera, sensor, and radar technologies through a strong, onboard, super fast network. - I'm joined now by Dr. Ivana Hasa assistant professor in electrochemical materials at WMG, the University of Warwick.

First of all, solid state batteries. How soon do you think they're going to be commercially available? - Well, solid state batteries have been promised long time now, many companies have been announced major breakthroughs in the technology. And many of them have even announced that they might be ready for 2025, 2026. So it's not far away, but we are getting there. what are the advantages of these batteries? - Well there are a lot of advantages going toward the solid state configuration, battery configuration, first of all, the high energy density that these batteries can deliver But also their high safety content. - They are safer? - Yeah, definitely.

So moving from a liquid electrolyte to a solid state electrolyte promises a lot of improvement in terms of safety. So often lithium ion batteries can be damaged for example, or can get a huge variation of temperature. And this can swell the batteries. And this can lead to safety hazards like the fires that unfortunately we have been seeing sometimes. - You must be a person in demand here. It just strikes me that you're the person working in these fields, trying to develop the next generation of batteries.

Is it exciting to be in this field at the moment? - It is very exciting. There are many experts in the field working toward the same goal, the same goal of reaching a sustainable environment. Batteries that last longer, batteries that are cheaper, batteries that can actually bridge the gap between like clean energy production and energy utilisation or electrify the transport sector. - Because that is critical. Isn't it? It's about making batteries that aren't just good performers, but that are commercially viable that you can mass produce them.

- Cost is very important. Cost is an important parameter because we want our batteries to be available for, for wide use. We want all the peoples to have electric vehicles with the battery inside that it's not going to increase the price of the car.

So we want cheap batteries. - What other fields are you working on then at the moment? - Well, at the moment, I'm working on alternative chemistries to lithium ion batteries. So that's a very exciting field for me. I've been working on sodium ion batteries for the last eight years and sodium ion batteries are seeing like the next generation promising low cost and sustainable electrochemical energy storing systems. - Wow! There's a lot of I'm thinking about your work and there's a lot of deadlines at the moment.

We had deadlines all of the time. Does that put extra pressure on you or is it a good thing to actually concentrate all of your minds? - I'd say that it's a very good thing. There are many deadlines we are having right now in the last 10 or 15 years, we want to electrify our transport sector. We want to produce energy in a clean way, but also be able to store it. And by using low cost, sustainable, safe batteries, sodium ion batteries do not have that big energy density, but they have a lot of application spaces in light vehicle, electric vehicle like e-bikes or e-scooters or city cars. - Oh, okay.

- Where you don't need a lot of energy density. But at least not as much as the one in which lithium ion batteries are used. - So Ivana, just to wrap up, we've talked about lithium, ion solid state and sodium ion. Is there anything else that's in the pipeline, So to speak that we think will be used in EVs in the future? - Well there are always a lot of ideas, right? So scientists are working on different chemistries. Some scientists are even promoting the use of graphene inside our batteries to improve the energy density and the speed at which we recharge our batteries.

Some other scientists are proposing totally different chemistries like magnesium, or we could use aluminum or zinc or go to aqueous batteries. There is a lot of research going on. Of course, these are very early stage of research. So the TRL, the technology readiness level is very low. But the thing that we, the time we, we are going to have some nice surprises. - So which one of those. If you were a betting person,

would you put your money on being the, the battery of the future? - If I knew that I would be rich in some years, so I don't have a real answer there. - You and me both, Ivana. So, thank you very much for joining us. It's been very interesting.

- Thank you. - Now, did you know this? (upbeat music) - So let's start by looking at the EV success story and for this, I'm joined again by Toby Groom. Hello, Toby. So Toby, if electric vehicle sales are to reach 55% market share by 2040, what does it mean for logistics companies like DHL? - Well, as the growth's going to increase over the number of years, what we need to be wary of in the market is that demand may exceed supply. So from a logistics company, it needs to be prepared to be able to meet those challenges within the market. Anything that comes in there.

If we think of that overall process, you know what, there's lots of gigafactories, that's going to be increasing over the next decade globally. So it's been able to manage that supply across the globe to the required manufacturing locations. - Okay. So we're not getting just more of the same EV battery, right? We're getting different technologies.

How does that affect logistics and supply chains then? - Well, that's something that's why logistics professionals need to be involved in this process because that exists in a certain form today, because how you handle how you transport, how you store batteries varies depending on the size, the weight and the power of the batteries. Now that's really states that no one size fits all. And this is going to have to adapt as this develops over the coming years. - Today's European Union Directive on Batteries actually demands that 50% of the batteries is being recycled in its entirety.

What, according to you is the likely impact of this on the industry? - It's considering the impact from a sustainability perspective. If it's done correctly, it offers, you know, PR sustainability benefits, shall we say, for the OEM or the brand itself, but potential disaster, if there's issues in that one. And that's not only just when it gets to the recycling or the strategy to do so, it's that entire process, or when you're collecting that end of life battery, whether it's from a dealer or whether there's an issue with the battery from manufacturing all the way through that process to lay at that level of reclamation. - Do you see a situation where batteries are being tracked from production to reclamation? - Well, what exists today is there's already tracking on batteries within the vehicles that can tell if the battery is getting to then too much power, if they're overheating, or if anything needs done. And in the future, that's something that can be first seen in logistics, using Internet of Things technology there's trackers can go into packaging that can tell you if the heat is variable, if there's any gas leakage, or things of that nature that exists.

And in the future, there'll be additional tracking all the way down to part and sale within batteries that I'll end up having that full audit trail all the way from production, all the way to the final use of the battery. - Thanks a lot once again, Toby - Thank you very much, Adrien. - So as usual, we've punctured a few myths and discovered amazing innovations. We've discovered a battery that lasts for 16 years and covers 2 million kilometres. - Well, we've learned about volumetric energy density. I've always wondered what that was.

We discovered a brand new solid state battery that can be recharged over a thousand times and is 50% smaller than a conventional lithium ion battery. - And we've seen some amazing new battery materials ranging from graphene to sea water. I mean, how on earth can we top that in episode four? - Well, we will be looking into the whole battery supply chain, the manufacturing process and where it all happens.

New battery plants are opening all of the time. So join us for more insights into this huge industry. We'll see you soon. (upbeat music)

2022-02-23 05:34

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