Everything you could possibly want to know about batteries


The Economist has published a very readable historian/explanation of batteries, especially ones suitable for all electric cars, “In search of the perfect battery.” In particular, it has a very extensive discussion of lithium-ion batteries, which will almost certainly be the core battery for most electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. I highly recommend the piece, since electricity is the transportation fuel of the near- and far-future.

[Hat tip to my brother Dave for sending this to me.]

5 Responses to Everything you could possibly want to know about batteries

  1. Ronald says:

    it’s not in their regular weekly magazine, but their 3 month special. It’s not in the library, i got to buy it. (or I got to stand at the magazine rack a while)

  2. David B. Benson says:

    Thirsty Hybrid And Electric Cars Could Triple Demands On Scarce Water Resources

  3. Joe says:

    A very silly study on water. It is about how traditional power plants use an unsustainable amount of water.

    NO advocates of plug ins support powering them with traditional plants. One more thing I’ve been meaning to blog on.

  4. John Messerly says:

    I was wondering here Joe- Hasn’t the spike in petroleum prices created a new opportunity here? I footnote my calculations, so maybe someone can assist me in seeing why this is not a winning proposition .

    I start by calculating the cost of power required by an electric car to deliver the same power utilized from a gallon of gas. Using an electric car it turns out I would pay the equivalent of 89 cents per gallon *

    If each US vehicle uses on average 6.2 gallons of gas per day**, this means that the yearly cost of gasoline per vehicle is $9066. So an equivalent electric vehicle would save $7057 in fuel costs. Assuming a 30KwH battery is needed for a 100 mile range in a conventional vehicle with a 30mpg at cruising efficiency***, that battery at $1/Watt for Li-Ion would be paid off in 4.25 years.

    There are many ways to leverage this price differential. To allow consumers to see this savings up front, one policy approach would be for the federal government to subsidize 100% of the battery cost for domestic vehicles, but add a surcharge on electricity used to charge the battery (metered by the car). The electricity company is required to add a surcharge for the electricity used at say 50% of the prevailing equivalent cost of gas. Instead the consumer pays the equivalent of $2 per gallon of gas- creating a stampede for domestically built electrical vehicles.

    The government recovers the cost of the battery in 6.8 years, so it is zero government cost (well ok- figure in interest, make it a 40% not 50% discount- whatever.)

    Another policy tack might tell power companies that they can pocket a portion of the surcharge if the power used by electrics is coverred by new CO2 free power capacity built after the start of the program. 89 cents per KWH can justify a whole lot of solar in the Nevada desert. The power generate demand for the building of new plant at a furious pace: 25% of current electrical capacity, so that is a lot of domestic alternative power jobs there too. Energy independence it a very rapid time frame, yada yada.

    Ok Joe. I am new to this so I must have missed something. What is wrong with this picture? Zero program cost, huge consumer demand, huge domestic jobs, CO2 free, finance cost answered, energy independence.

    *Assuming a national rate of 10 cents per KwH. Assumes 20% efficiency for a gas car, and 81% for electrical- including mechanical inefficiencies. At 36.4 KwHs of energy per gallon of gas used in a 100% efficient car, actual power utilized is 7.28KwHs/gallon. To deliver the equivalent power, and 81% efficient electrical vehicle would require 8.99 gallons, making its equivalent cost per gallon at 89cents.

    ** According to the DOE, America uses 385 million gallons of gas per day. There are 62 million registered vehicles in the US, so the average is 6.2 gallons per day per vehicle.

    ***30MPG with the previously calculated 8.99 Kwhs/Gallon yields .299 Kwhs per mile, so 100 miles would need a 30Kwh battery.

  5. (cross posted to Economist)

    Correction: I went to official sources and discovered a bad number.

    It is not devastating, but we are talking more like a toll roll road period of time for recovery of investment. I had a bad number for number of gasoline vehicles. The new number pushes the amortization out to 8.7 years, assuming that GM can get the Li-Ion batteries down to .625 watts as they have stated they will achieve for the Volt*. 8.7 years is still within the life of the car, so the program would still be revenue neutral.

    DOE cites R.L. polk estimate of 181.4 million registed vehicles (residential and non residential) see page 2-6. They base their estimate of US cars on this 1991 figure. Presumably, they regard that as representative of the current fleet numbers. Diesel Industry Forum states that 3% of new vehicle sales are diesel. This puts gasoline vehicles at 175.9 million.

    DOE’s Energy Information administration page states US daily consumption of finished motor gasoline was 9.253 million barrels per day for 2006 (388 million gallons)

    This yields 2.2 gallons per day per vehicle, so the savings over gas per year would be $707 per year. That would require 8.8 years for payoff of a 35Kwh battery (GM’s 62 cents per watt Li-Ion rate)

    * GM’s Posawatz said the Volt’s lithium-ion 16Kwh Li-in batteries will cost $10K