Electric cars have become increasingly popular with Americans. A new survey reports that there are about 2 million electric vehicles worldwide. By the year 2020, experts estimate that there will be from 10 to 20 million electric vehicles used in countries around the world. This underscores the global realization that the use of coal and oil is harmful to the environment. Not only that, but our earth’s coal, oil and mineral resources will eventually run out.
In the world of batteries, lithium-ion technology has been the front runner for many years. Today, this type of battery powers everything from cell phones to electronic devices. But it is also the standard way to power electric vehicles. Manufacturers of electric vehicles are searching for a new and better way to power their cars. They’re looking for smaller batteries that offer better performance. Of course, cost is always a factor. This has spawned a global race to create more eco-friendly options to power electric cars, cell phones, and electronic devices.
Researchers say that they’re not just looking to invent a better battery. They believe that their research is important as well. Thomas Edison tried and failed to invent the light bulb over 1,000 times. He claimed that each try wasn’t a failure at all; instead, it was an important method of eliminating ways that would not work. In order to perfect the battery or invent a better battery, it may be necessary to refine the materials and processes that are used. That’s a big part of the development of newer, better batteries for electric cars. Of course, cost is always a consideration; especially when you’re talking about powering a vehicle.
Gasoline power versus electric cars
The gasoline engine has had its problems over the years since its invention in the late 1800’s. It was once a troubled and flawed method of powering the automobile. Any number of things could go wrong with a car in the 1950’s. The carburetor might not be set right. The spark plugs might be fouling out. Maybe one of the fuel hoses was clogged. There were an endless number of things that could go wrong and this kept many auto mechanics working hard fixing those engines. But today, you rarely hear of those sorts of problems because the auto engine has been perfected and fine-tuned to run well with almost no maintenance. Change the oil every 3,000 miles and you’re good to go.
That’s the way developers are hoping things will go with the lithium-ion battery. They want it to evolve into a smaller, more compact battery that offers much more power and more reliable service even under poor conditions. When that happens, the whole field of electric cars will take off.
This newest iteration of the battery uses a manganese and sodium-ion-based material that’s more environmentally friendly and costs less. It has been developed by researchers at Seoul National University who were working with developers at The University of Texas at Dallas. The unique sodium-ion design replaces the green lithium atoms with yellow sodium atoms. The new material consists of a layered structure that incorporates both red oxygen atoms, as well as purple manganese.
Preliminary results are very promising. Researchers say that the new material is much more stable, plus it has lithium’s high energy capabilities. It’s also compatible with today’s modern mass production processes. They are calling the new battery “promising” but still running tests on the new material. As this battery becomes more viable, auto makers may see a much brighter future for electric cars. One day, the gasoline engine may be a relic only seen in a museum.