The Mystery of Electric Car Powering

February 20, 2015

imagesAn electric car battery is a product that can play a major role in creating novel industries. The battery is designed in such a way that it can power an electric car for 200 to 300 miles on a single charge. A battery that has the potential to compete and even completely replace a car’s combustion engine does not exist yet. However, if a battery of such caliber could be devised, it might turn to multibillion dollar market in the first few years of its existence. This is according to LeVine, Quartz’s Washington correspondent. Such a battery could result in a great improvement in energy security. Such a battery could also lower the effect on climate change since less exhaust will be released into the environment. The U.S. and several other nations are gearing their efforts towards developing such an electric car battery.

The interest in the electric car battery prompted LeVine to go to one of the Energy Department’s laboratories, the Argonne National Laboratory. He was allowed to fully access the Battery Department for about two years, a period which he emerged with an interesting book titled, “The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World.” The battery now depends on the national labs of the government for essential scientific research following the winnowing or closure of several America’s corporate laboratories. Therefore, it was an Argonne scientist who was the mastermind behind the invention of battery chemistry that led to a great improvement of electric cars’ performance. The chemistry in question is Nickel-Manganese-Cobalt, NMC. A specific NMC version is used for the Chevrolet Volt, as well as Nissan Leafs’ next generation. A major drawback that has been that only 40 miles are covered by the Volt on pure battery energy alone prior to switching to the gasoline fueled engine.

LeVine’s book revolves around the effort that it will take to invent a new battery capable of achieving five times the current mileage. Stability has always been a major issue with electric car batteries. Therefore, this new battery researched by LeVine should maintain its stability and be affordable. The effort was labeled NMC 2.0 by Argonne’s scientists. As much as these scientists have made forward strides numerous times, they always discover problems. An example of such a problem is referred to as voltage fade, which is a serious instability that could make an electric car battery unusable.

Just as he pushed for solar innovation, President Obama pushed for battery innovation. This led to the invention of Envia and Solyndra. It is thus clear that financing efforts for battery invention is industrial policy form.

 

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