Improving the Lithium Ion Battery

S. Daniel Ackerman, our Guest Blogger, is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. You can contact him with love or hate mail (or car or bicycle chat) at sdaniel_ackerman [at ] He has interesting news in the world of motors to share with the readers of Here's his article:

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If there is only one technology that is holding back the electric car form becoming reality, it is the battery. Batteries, as a technology, have barely progressed in their ability to recharge and hold a charge since the 1950s. That is beginning to change, however. With the massive proliferation of portable electronic devices on a scale not seen since the introduction of the Walkman and the cell phone, not to mention a renewed interest in rechargeable vehicles, battery technology is finally getting the kind of scientific attention that should have been dedicated to it for decades.

Researchers at the Department of Energy's Argonne Research Laboratory announced on May 8th that they have developed a new method of drastically increasing the capacity and stability of lithium-ion batteries. Lithium-iron (or li-ion) batteries power everything from your iPod to your cell phone to your laptop. They are also considered the battery of choice for practical development of the electric car. The new batteries use a nano-crystalline layered structure to store the charge, and the scientists claim the batteries have more than twice the capacity of conventional lithium-ion batteries.

Batteries in vehicles are their own worst enemy, because of their weight, which is why hybrid vehicles are popular among automakers. A hybrid vehicle can charge its own batteries on the go, allowing a smaller, lighter battery to be used. A vehicle that would operate solely on battery power must carry impractically heavy batteries in order to have a reasonable range, which requires more power to move, requiring larger batteries, and so on. This development in battery technology is likely to be only one step in the quest to make batteries last longer and weigh less. Soon, we should be seeing smaller batteries carrying a significantly greater charge, perhaps paving the way for the practical electric, battery-operated car.

S. Daniel Ackerman
Guest Blogger