In search of the perfect power pack

A lithium-ion battery pack is installed in a Nissan Leaf. In most tests, the all-electric car can’t go much beyond 100 kilometres on a charge, so Nissan is selling it mainly for daily commutes rather than as a highway vehicle.

A lithium-ion battery pack is installed in a Nissan Leaf. In most tests, the all-electric car can’t go much beyond 100 kilometres on a charge, so Nissan is selling it mainly for daily commutes rather than as a highway vehicle.

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Electric cars are a game-changing technology with an Achilles heel – the battery.

Current batteries are expensive and have limited range, making it hard to drive significant distances without stopping to recharge.

Experts agree consumers will never fully embrace electric vehicles until they can travel as far as a gas-powered car on a single charge.

So the global race is on to build a better lithium-ion battery, one that pulls off the herculean feat of extending range while being long-lasting, affordable, quick-charging and safe.

In Asia, governments and big battery companies are investing heavily in next-generation battery technology, while in the United States much of the cutting-edge research is being performed at Department of Energy labs and universities.

The San Francisco Bay Area – home to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla Motors, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and two dozen battery startups – has emerged as one of the nation’s leading hubs of battery innovation.

“Transportation is going to go electric, and batteries have become a real critical technology,” said Steve Visco, chief technology officer of PolyPlus, a startup that was spun out of the Berkeley lab. “The Chinese government is subsidizing a lot of battery research, and in Japan the companies have 10-, 20- and 30-year technology road maps.”… Read More [via montrealgazette]