Why Lithium-ion Batteries are More Suitable for Electric Vehicles ?


Electrification, a feasible way to achieve efficient and clean transportation, is crucial to the sustainable development and environmental conservation. Electric vehicles (EVs) including plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and pure battery electric vehicles (BEVs) are emerging as attractive vehicles in foreseeable years. The key technology to this revolution is battery.

The first EV hit the road shortly after discovery of lead-acid batteries and electric motors in the 1800-end. The batteries used in the electrical vehicles are different than that of used in consumer electronic devices like mobile phones or laptops. They need to generate high power and store high energy capacity within small space and weight at an affordable price. Currently, the major two battery technologies that are used in the EVs are lithium-ion (Li-ion) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH).

Battery performance necessities depend upon the vehicle application. Energy and power are the two key factors determine battery performance. Power is associated with acceleration and energy is associated with driving range. Here are some various uses of the batteries applicable in different types of electrical vehicles.

EVs: These type of vehicles use an electric motor that is powered by batteries to power the vehicle. Such batteries used in EVs should have more power to travel longer distance, thereby EVs have comparatively lower power to energy (P/E) ratio. The sizes of batteries is comparatively larger than that of HEVs and PHEVs.

HEVs: The technology associated with HEVs is storage of energy in batteries. Most of HEVs store energy in batteries, which is generated by braking and use this stored energy to increase acceleration of vehicle. These batteries need to store small amount of energies as these batteries charge frequently during driving. Such batteries have shallow cycle, which means that these batteries are not being charged fully. The capacities of these batteries is relatively smaller.

PHEVs: These are hybrid vehicles installed with large-capacity batteries, which can be charged by means of electric grid. PHEVs use only electric motor and the energy stored in the batteries to travel for small distance owing to larger battery capacity. PHEVs do not use fossil fuels while travelling for short distance, if the batteries are fully charged. After depletion of the energy stored in the battery, it works as the HEVs battery to boost acceleration of the vehicle. Therefore, PHEVs batteries need both power and energy performance, which has led in to medium P/E range.

Lithium-ion batteries are more suitable technology for electrical vehicles owing to their properties of generating high energy and power output per unit of battery mass. Also, these batteries are comparatively smaller and lighter as required in all types of electric vehicles. This property of storing energy in smaller and lighter batteries have led to adoption of lithium-ion batteries in powering small consumer products such as laptops, digital cameras, cell phones and portable game players, etc.

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About the Author

Nikhil Kaitwade

With over 8 years of experience in market research and consulting industry, Nikhil has worked on more than 250 research assignments pertaining to chemicals, materials and energy sector. He has worked directly with about 35 reputed companies as lead consultant for plant expansion, product positioning, capacity factor analysis, new market/segment exploration, export market opportunity evaluation and sourcing strategies.

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