Electric vehicles are becoming increasingly popular as a way to reduce emissions and cut down on pollution. As more people are switching to electric models, it’s essential to understand the different types of batteries used in electric vehicles. Electric vehicles are inching closer to becoming the standard as more manufacturers develop and release models. For electric cars to make this successful transition, their range must be able to meet our needs – a feat dictated by the battery capacity. But what powers an electric vehicle? Car batteries come in many shapes and sizes, with varying capacity levels and lifespans.
While there may seem like an overwhelming amount of information out there about electric car batteries, understanding the different types, their battery capacities, and how long they last will give us a better idea of what battery to look for when considering an electric vehicle that meets all our expectations. This blog post will discuss three standard battery technologies for electric cars: lithium-ion (Li-ion), nickel-metal hydride (NiMH), and lead acid. We’ll look at each type of battery’s performance, cost efficiency, and sustainability before exploring how best to care for your chosen battery so that you can make an informed decision when purchasing an EV battery
Table of Contents
The nickel-cadmium battery
The nickel-cadmium battery (NiCd) is an older battery technology that has been popular for decades. NiCds are very reliable but have a shorter lifespan than other types of batteries and tend to have higher toxicity levels due to the presence of cadmium in the cells. Thanks to nickel-cadmium technology, rechargeable batteries brought convenience and cost savings in the 90s. Known as “Ni-Cd” and boasting impressive storage density and a long lifespan, they quickly became a go-to power source for electric vehicles.
But their popularity matched the memory effect – a deterioration of battery performance when only part of the charge is drained. Cadmium’s toxicity has since ended indoor Ni-Cd batteries, but outdoors, you can still rely on them for reliable short bursts of energy.
The nickel-metal hydride battery
The nickel metal hydride battery is the most common rechargeable battery used in electric vehicles, and it offers excellent storage capacity at a relatively low cost. Like Ni-Cd, they’re affordable and reliable but don’t suffer from memory effects – meaning you can drain them fully without affecting performance.
Due to their lack of heavy metals, nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) accumulators have seen much greater longevity than traditional Ni-Cd batteries. This reliable portable rechargeable battery technology was extremely cost-effective at the turn of the millennium, making it a top choice for the hybrid vehicle market. Unfortunately, as lithium-ion technology advanced, Ni-MH was overthrown as the superior option, which still shows today.
The lithium-ion battery
Lithium-ion batteries are an increasingly popular energy source for many modern electric cars. Lithium is the lightest metal, providing an efficient energy source with a high power-to-weight ratio. Out of the six chemistry types of lithium, most cars today use Lithium Cobalt Oxide (LCO) or Lithium Nickle Cobalt Oxide (NCA), as they offer the highest energy density.
What’s interesting is that manufacturers choose one battery cell housing over another depending on their automobile needs; some opt for cylindrical batteries like Tesla due to their reliability and durability, while others might lean towards prismatic or pouch-type battery cells depending on their specific design criteria. As it turns out, Tesla stores hundreds of lithium-ion cells under its interior carriage resulting in 2,976 battery cells per vehicle—a testament to just how small yet powerful these lithium-ion batteries have become.
The solid-state battery
The lithium-ion battery has long been a leader in powering our lives in transportation and consumer electronics. A significant advantage of this technology is its long lifespan and lack of memory effect – making it a trendy choice. However, scientists have recently been exploring the development of a ‘solid-state battery.’ This would use a solid material instead of a liquid electrolyte, such as a plastic polymer or inorganic powder/mixture. Stemming from decades of research, industry experts believe this new technology may eventually be an alternative choice for the automotive sector within the next decade. In hindsight, it’s fantastic to see how far technology has come, revolutionizing our layers with more efficient and safer options.
Ultracapacitor / supercapacitor
Ultracapacitor technology has been around for decades, but its potential in electric vehicles was only indeed discovered more recently. Unlike batteries which store energy electrochemically, ultracapacitors utilize a static charge to store and release energy quickly. This makes them ideal for short bursts of power during acceleration while minimizing degrading over time. Ultracapacitors are an exciting type of power storage. By harnessing the power of polarized liquid stored between an electrode and an electrocyte, ultracapacitors create a robust energy reserve between a capacitor and a battery. This energy can be drawn upon during laborious acceleration or regenerative braking. While this kind of power provides great advantages, it also has some drawbacks – ultracapacitors have a limited lifespan and arrive at a premium price. Nevertheless, they remain valuable for drivers who need extra oomph under their feet.
While this type of battery governs many aspects of our lives, its affordability and limited range can limit its potential. Without combining other batteries, it is difficult to rely on this type of battery for extended service life. Furthermore, its limitations become even more apparent in cold temperatures, making it unsuitable for electric vehicle applications. Nevertheless, leveraging other batteries in tandem with this one can still benefit from its convenient cost benefits. Lead acid batteries
are still the most affordable and versatile way to power various applications. With its low cost, durability, and performance, it is primarily used in automobiles, golf carts, off-grid energy systems, and many other applications. Lead acid batteries are also widely popular due to their relatively long lifespan; they can last up to 5 years with proper maintenance.
In conclusion, electric vehicles are an increasingly common sight on our roads today, and an essential component of their functionality and convenience is the battery. Various types of batteries are used in electric vehicles, from lead acid to nickel-metal hydride and even lithium-ion. Depending on the type of battery used, multiple factors may affect its performance over time, such as cost, durability, and recyclability. Ultimately, consumers need to research the different types of batteries available to make an informed decision when purchasing an electric vehicle. With advancements in automotive technology ensuring higher performance and increased safety, investing in an electric cars could be wise as they continue to become widely accepted across all industries.