IBM research unveils a new battery free of heavy metals

electric vehicle batteriesWith the increasing demand for solar powered buildings, solar powered vehicles (electric vehicles(EVs) ) and smart grid power solutions; it is certain that there will be high demand for batteries. Many batteries including nickel and cobalt batteries pose an environmental threat to our natural ecosystem because of heavy metals.

From a system thinking perspective or a life-cycle basis – EVs, as well as all other going solar concepts, need alternative battery or storage solutions to significantly increase their environmental performance compared to conventional diesel or gas-powered vehicles.

For instance, in this article concerning EV sustainability issues, we saw that EV batteries are predominantly Lithium-ion batteries (e.g., Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)) which use lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite. As such, even with sustainable recycle and re-use programs to tackle the threat to the environment with increased adoption of EVs in the future, the development of sustainable materials or building new EV batteries that are zero in heavy metals will help to tackle these concerns from a system perspective.

Technological breakthroughs at the IBM research could help to solve the battery sustainability challenge:  

Researchers at the IBM research just unveiled recently a new battery discovery than could revolutionize the entire battery industry and help to solve the EV and going solar sustainability challenges when it comes to the elimination of heavy metals.

According to IBM research, it discovered a new battery which will eliminate the need for heavy metals in battery production and transform the long-term sustainability of many elements for our energy infrastructure. IBM research has discovered chemistry for a new battery that does not use heavy metals or other substances with sourcing concerns because the materials for this new battery are able to be extracted from seawater. Consequently, this lays the foundation for less invasive sourcing techniques than current material mining methods as noted by IBM research.

The new battery technology is also very promising because of its performance potential as determined in its initial tests which proved the new battery has faster charging time, higher power and energy density, storage energy efficiency and low flammability compared with the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries.

In addition, the new battery design could outperform lithium-ion across several sustainable technologies because it uses cobalt and nickel-free cathode material, as well as a safe liquid electrolyte with a high flash point. As such, this new battery design and chemistry includes a unique combination of the cathode and electrolyte demonstrated an ability to suppress lithium metal dendrites during charging, thereby reducing flammability, which is widely considered a significant drawback for the use of lithium metal as an anode material.

Lithium-ion batteries seem to be current battery technology at the moment, however, if new the battery discovery by IBM research is proving to perform better technically and environmentally, this discovery holds significant potential for electric vehicle batteries.

According to IBM research, the new battery will have a huge potential because of its flammability, cost and charging time.  It can reach an 80% state of charge with its configuration for high power at less than five minutes as shown during its current tests. IBM research is also using AI and machine learning techniques to mine huge data points that have helped to speed up this research and with better accuracy testing and the set hypothesis.

Electric car chargers and charging systems

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

Owning an electric vehicle (EV) is one thing, but there is always a question that most people will find themselves asking, how long will it take me to charge my car? Time is always one crucial component and when you misuse it, then you lose a lot. The answer to this kind of question is always one that always depends on various variables. At the start, you will have to choose an EV, now when it comes to charging, then it means you have to make a choice. So the charging time, as usual, will depend on your vehicle.

Another vital thing is the charging infrastructure. Yes, you have your care charge at home. But do you have enough electricity that will accomplish that? That means that at some point, you are prone to charging for a longer time, like when charging at home. How long can this car take you when it is fully charged? That leaves us with the best possible answers. The kind of infrastructure that you have and then the type of car you have.

The kind of car that you own

Not many countries have managed to migrate from fuel cars to EV cars, however, ever since the 2008 release of the Tesla Roadster — the first mass-produced highway-legal electric vehicle (EV) powered by a lithium-ion battery — automakers, from General Motors to Toyota, have been rushing to launch their own electric cars.

Let’s look at some of the cars that have taken the industry and what they can offer in terms of charging ability.

  • Nissan (Leaf). Now charging this vehicle when it is at zero to its full charge will require 24 hours charging. This will happen when you are using the power that is in your house. But if you can get a special 7kW charger, you will have managed to cut down that charging time to around 7.5hrs. If you get a rapid charger, then you will be able to recharge your battery that is at 20% to 80% in just an hour only.
  • Tesla (Model 3). Tesla recommends a wall connector with a NEMA 14-50 plug – as a home charging solution NEMA 14-50 with a 240V outlet on a 50 AMP circuit breaker that can charge a Tesla Model 3 at a rate of 30 miles per hour.
  • Jaguar (i-Pace SUV). For this brand, if using a special home charger, you can recharge your battery at the rate around 25 miles of range in an hour.
  • Hyundai (Kona electric). This is a brand that has been known to cruise to an 80% charge in just 9 hours and 35 minutes. That will have happened when you are using a home wall unit. when you go to a fast-charging station, you are sure to use at most 75 minutes of charging. When you plug the charger to the mains installation at home, you will need to have it at full charge at around 28 hours.

Electric car chargers and charging systems

How long does it take to charge an electric car?

The type of charger that you will use to charge your EV also matters a lot. Most people have a notion that their vehicles can be charged from home, which is quite true, but it is one of the slowest charging systems that you can opt to use. when you want the best, you need to dig into your pocket and invest in a wall box for charging. You can get it from the manufacturer or an aftermarket provider. That way, you will have increased the flow of power to your car to around 7.5kW.

Tesla has been in the industry for along and when you use their products, you feel the difference. They have also come up with a charging station and wall box that has a power output of 19.2kW. that means that it can deliver up to 71km per hour when charging their models.

Power stations of charging are slowly being installed where you can go in, do a fast charging and move on with your journey instead of staying glued for a long time waiting for the vehicle to charge fully. Charging time has always been a discussion and whether it will be fast enough to win these electric vehicles. That should be a topic that we will engage in another time.

A quick summary

As we have seen, the time that it will take to charge an electric car will depend. It can start from just 30 minutes or too many hours that might even exceed 12 hours. This will come down to the size of the battery that your car has been designed with and also the speed of charging that you will get at charging points. I found out the following: –

  • That most drivers will have to top up the charge on their vehicles instead of having the vehicle charge to the maximum. This is because of the long waiting hours.
  • A typical standard car will just need around 8 hours to charge. But it should have a 7kW charging point.
  • If you are traveling, you can add up charge to your car that will push you for at least 100 miles before charging again for 35 minutes.
  • If your battery car is bigger, and the charging point is slower, then it will take a bit longer to accomplish your charging.

When you get to look at the batteries, because of their massive work, they will start to degrade right from the first time that you will charge them, slowly. The good news is that manufacturers can give you up to 8 years of warranty in case something wrong happens to the batteries.

Learn more about how going solar can help you reduce charging costs for your electric car.

Sustainability concerns for electric vehicles (EVs)

electric vehicles

With the increasing demand for EVs every year, concerns about their environmental performance is a highly debated topic. As such, the following three (3) issues seem to be the leading ecological concerns for EVs and must be acknowledged and addressed as the EV technology continues to evolve while finding sustainability solutions to these challenges. Also, no technological change is without consequences, and in most cases, there are trade-offs to assess. These three (3) issues are:

1. The use of critical earth metals, i.e., Neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium that are scarce.

2. EV batteries if not recycled or re-used, pose a significant danger to the environment.

3. The climate impact of EVs, when powered by carbon-intensive electricity, does not provide the environmental benefit of fighting climate change.

1. Use of critical earth metals

Critical “elements” of the earth like Neodymium, dysprosium, and praseodymium are used in the manufacturing of magnets for electric vehicle motors and lithium-ion batteries.

However, these rare metals aren’t as rare as precious metals like gold, platinum, and palladium and the main driver at the moment for rapid use of these critical elements is the global demand for cellphones, laptop computers, and other electronic devices that use lithium-ion batteries. electric vehicles

With the current recycling rate of these metals being less than one (1) percent and material substitution possibilities limited as well, it calls for certification extraction programs to encourage stronger social and environmental standards.

2. EV batteries need a proper recycling program

EV batteries are predominantly Lithium-ion batteries (e.g., Nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), lithium-nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC)) which use lithium, cobalt, nickel, and graphite.

With the increasing demand for EVs and most batteries lasting at least eight (8) years, it is critical to in the long-term to re-use, recycle and have a progressive program for substitution that will help to reduce the long-term environmental impact of EVs.

Sustainable recycle and re-use programs will help to tackle the danger to the environment with increased adoption of EVs in the future.

3. Life-cycle climate impact of EVs

From a life-cycle perspective, EVs if powered from electrical grids that are carbon-intensive (i.e., that source a considerable portion of their power generation from fossil fuels or coal), this does not significantly help to reduce well-to-wheel greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions associated with EVs.

Well-to-wheel results account for all the energy and emissions necessary to produce the fuel used in the car (Well to Pump) and the operation energy and emissions associated with the vehicle technology (tail-pipe emissions, other emissions, and energy efficiency of the vehicle).

According to the EnergySage, taking well-to-wheel emissions into account, all-electric cars emit an average of around 4,450 pounds of CO2 equivalent each year. In comparison, conventional gasoline cars will emit over twice as much annually.

However, the amount of well-to-wheel emissions your EV is responsible for is mostly dependent on your geographic area and the energy sources most commonly used for electricity. As more renewable energy enters the grid, the climate impact of EV will further diminish. Countries with the highest grid carbon intensity will deliver less climate benefit compared to countries with a low grid carbon intensity that will have substantial climate benefits.

Solar PV a great solution to tackle the climate impacts of EVs

electric vehicle

Powering your EV with solar panels will help to off-set carbon emissions, especially when the grid power is carbon-intensive. Solar PV comes in handy for powering your vehicle in places where the grid is primarily powered with fossil fuels hence reducing the environmental impact of your EV. Learn more here about the Environment and EVs.

How long does it take to charge an electric vehicle?

electric vehiclesIt is worthwhile to know about how long it will take to charge your electric vehicle (EV) before buying it, and hence, many prospective buyers would probably research the charging times for different EV models. Charging times would vary by the type of the EV, and the type of the charging station in question.

1. Type of EV

EVs today are classed by the degree of electricity used as their energy source. As such, we have three main types of electric vehicles, including BEVs (Battery electric vehicles), PHEVs (Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles), and HEVs (hybrid electric vehicles). This article is about BEVs (Battery Electric Vehicles).

Battery Electric Vehicles are typically referred or called EVs and are fully electric with rechargeable batteries and no gasoline engine. Electric vehicles use electric motors other than internal combustion engines (ICEs).

EVs store electricity on their high capacity battery packs and use battery power to run their electric motor and all other functions of the EV.

When it comes to charging times, this can range between 30 minutes to 20 hours or more based on the type of the EV, as well as the kind of battery, how depleted it is and capacity. In this case, BEVs take longer to recharge when their cells are entirely used up than their hybrid EV counterparts.

Most EVs seem to use lithium-ion batteries of various designs, similar to those used in cellphones and laptops computers, but use these types of cells on a much larger scale. For instance, the Nissan LEAF uses lithium-ion batteries and can charge at about 8 hours using a 220/240-volt Nissan charging dock at your home or charge at a 110/120-volt outlet but would take a little bit longer.

electric vehicles

However, other EVs for instance cars from GEM (Global Electric Motorcars) use lead-acid batteries which is much an older technology that is proven to be reliable and charges in about 6 to 8 hours at a standard 110-volt outlet.

2. Type of charging point

Your charging point is another determinant of how fast you can charge your EV. There are three types of chargers, that is level 1 charging stations, level 2 charging stations, and level 3 charging stations.

  • Level 1 stations use the regular 120-volt connection or the standard household outlet and hence do not have their extra costs. However, this type of charge is a little bit slow.
  • Level 2 uses a higher-output 240-volt power source, like the one that you plug your oven or clothes dryer into and charging times are much faster than with a Level 1 EV charging station.
  • Level 3 chargers are fast-charging devices that use very high voltage and can add 90 miles of range to an EV in just 30 minutes in some cases. These chargers, however, are costly, costing tens of thousands of dollars, and routinely using a Level 3 chargers can ultimately hurt your car’s battery.

Why solar panels compliment EVs?

How long it takes to charge an EV is just one consideration; however, you also want to save money despite what type of charger or EV you have. Charging your EV with solar energy is probably one of the most exciting aspects of driving a fully electric vehicle because you increase your energy efficiency by utilizing the power from the panels

As such, the EnergySage has written an article about why solar panels compliment EVs. According to the EnergySage, a solar PV system will charge your electric car just as it will supply energy for the rest of your home appliances. Even a small solar panel array with only ten (10) solar panels can provide enough power to charge your vehicle’s battery.

Click here to learn more about why solar panels compliment EVs.