The hunt for longer ranging electric vehicles has just been given a boost with IBM announcing that Central Glass and Asahi Kasei have joined the company’s Battery 500 Project to collaborate on researching how to extend the range of EVs. This, it is hoped, will make eco friendly cars popular enough that the public will want to trade their gasoline vehicles for them. The collaboration follows IBM’s initiative where in 2009 it began a project to explore how to extend EVs’ driving ranges.
The sustainable mobility project seeks to popularize the use of electric vehicles, which has been slowly gaining ground as people search for alternatives to conventional cars owing to rising gas prices and concern for the environment. IBM worked on developing lithium air technology that could drive a family sized EV for a good 500 miles before needing to be recharged.
The lithium air batteries harness oxygen and transfer it to a nano structured carbon cathode. The oxygen is stored and undergoes a reaction with electrons and lithium ions to produce electricity. When the EV is plugged in, the oxygen that hasn’t been tampered with is released into the atmosphere. In essence, the technology is similar to breathing.
What could help the technology make it big is that it is significantly lighter than the systems found inside standard EVs. With Asahi and Central Glass now joining IBM’s efforts, it’s hoped that the innovative initiative will be made fully viable by the year 2030.
Asahi Kasei will use its knowledge in membrane technology to create critical components for lithium air batteries. Central Glass, on the other hand, will use its chemical know how to develop a new class of high performance additives and electrolytes that are specifically designed to improve the batteries.
For comparison, standard EVs have a driving range of 100 miles on an average. The constant need to recharge batteries poses a problem especially if you have to make long trips.