A recent breakthrough in battery technology could mean massive gains for electric motorcycles.
According to the BBC, researchers from the University of Illinois have come up with a new way of making batteries that allows them to either shrink them significantly, or else keep the same size as existing batteries and produce more power.
For now, the researchers have only built small-scale batteries, but that could change quickly.
“In principle our technology is scalable all the way up to electronics and vehicles,” Professor William King told the BBC. “You could replace your car battery with one of our batteries and it would be 10 times smaller, or 10 times more powerful. With that in mind you could jumpstart a car with the battery in your cell phone.”
Not only is the new battery technology much more efficient than existing technology, it’s also much quicker to charge – the researchers are claiming up to 1,000 times quicker. That means, in an electric motorcycle application, you’d be back on the road in minutes instead of hours.
The new technology is possible because of advances in the construction of the anodes and cathodes in the battery’s internal cells. The researchers have discovered how to integrate the anodes and cathodes at what they call the “microlevel”.
Or, as Prof. King told the BBC:
“The battery electrodes have small intertwined fingers that reach into each other … That does a couple of things. It allows us to make the battery have a very high surface area even though the overall battery volume is extremely small. And it gets the two halves of the battery very close together so the ions and electrons do not have far to flow.
“Because we’ve reduced the flowing distance of the ions and electrons we can get the energy out much faster.”
There is one major drawback with the battery right now – the electrolyte used is combustible, which could leave to safety concerns, especially in a vehicular application. But researchers are already working around that problem. They’re hoping to try out their battery as a power source for electronics by the end of the year.
Let me guess: “In 5 years…”
There have been so many announcements of battery breakthroughs, it would be nice to actually see an improved battery at some point.
Still, it’s exciting and I’d love to walk into my local dealer and try an e-bike out one day soon.
OK, so we’re worried about a combustible electrolyte. Probably a liter or less. As opposed to carrying about 20 liters of gasoline in most bikes, or 60 liters in an automobile. And we’ve never heard of making a safe container for combustibles.
We could always put a label on the new battery – “Danger, contains flammable material”. But that wouldn’t protect those who have been through the public school system and are functionally illiterate, would it?
On the plus side, electric vehicles with flaming batteries will still be able to blow up spectacularly in the movies without the audience throwing their popcorn at the screen
Get ‘er done boys – this is the breakthrough I was waiting for !