Tech Briefs Magazine - February 2022 - BT-16

Powering the Future of
Electric Vehicles with
Safer, Lighter
Batteries
I
f I buy an electric vehicle (EV), will
its battery catch fire? Statistically
such considerations are almost irrelevant.
EV battery fires are no
more apt to occur than a gasoline
blaze in a new combustion-engine
vehicle. Most EVs currently in use are reliable
and safe. But a spate of highly
publicized Tesla fires (some the result of
impact or battery puncture) and GM's
$1.8 billion recall of every single one of
the 142,000 Bolt EVs and EUVs ever sold,
due to a manufacturing defect found in
their lithium-ion batteries supplied by
LG Energy Solution, is enough for some
prospective buyers to think twice about
making the jump to EVs.
" It's given my wife and me pause, " said
Kevin Whittle, a Farmington, Michiganbased
industrial automation consultant.
" We were looking at various electrics, not
at Bolt specifically. But EV fires and the
recall concern us. We just don't trust the
tech yet. "
" The batteries in those EVs use NCM,
or nickel-cobalt-manganese, cathodes, "
explained Dr. Zhong (John) Chen, project
manager of vehicle engineering at BYD's
northern California headquarters. " With
NCM you can easily get a fire. Users of
that chemistry have to put a lot of effort
behind thermal management and safety,
adding cost. "
In comparison, lithium-iron-phosphate
(LFP; LiFePO4), have a proven chemistry
whose benefits were somewhat bypassed
by the industry's settling on lithium-ion
cells dominated by NCM, experts note.
Where LFP cells shine primarily is in their
inherent stability, typically sacrificing
some energy density versus NCM for
resistance to thermal runaways. At
approximately 200 Wh/kg at the cell
level, they are about 10-15 percent less
energy-dense than most NCM cells
(Tesla's 2170s are rated at over 260
Wh/kg).
" LFP batteries are probably most
notable for their positive safety profiles
relative to other chemistries, " noted
Research Analyst Maria Chavez of
Guidehouse Insights in a May 2021 report.
The chemistries " are generally thermally
and chemically stable - plus, the phosphate
chemistry has been shown to offer a
long lifetime, " she stated.
LFP batteries have demonstrated life
cycles in excess of 10,000 cycles, or millions
of highway miles. They exhibit lower
internal resistance than NCM types,
16
Battery & Electrification Technology, February 2022
http://info.hotims.com/82318-801

Tech Briefs Magazine - February 2022

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