Recent technological advances are pushing electric vehicles (EVs) in to the mainstream faster than even experts could predict. OPEC projections from 2015 anticipated fewer than 50 million EVs on the road in 2040. In 2018, OPEC increased its estimate to 300 million electric vehicles by that date.
That’s a 600% increase in their predicted numbers, and a sizable share of all future consumer vehicles.
Consumer EV adoption rates continue to rise. This growing adoption is driving competition in EV manufacturing and shaking up accepted standards in development and design. But while media and consumers celebrate futuristic body designs, head-up displays (HUDs), and advanced personal features, it’s with electric batteries where scientists and engineers are making the most exciting progress.
WHY BATTERIES ARE SUCH DIFFERENTIATORS IN ELECTRIC VEHICLE MANUFACTURING
Batteries are a familiar technology to most consumers. But sudden improvements to EV batteries are at the center of increased EV adoption today.
Batteries are the heaviest,most expensive, and most important components of EVs. They are therefore the best focal point for overall EV improvements: they contribute directly to key performance indicators. As a result, EV battery innovation is the most competitive playing field in the industry.
“Automotive batteries have always been treated as plug-and-play parts of a vehicle, but that approach no longer works in electric vehicles, ”Semiconductor Engineering reports. “In fact, the battery is now a differentiating factor.”
More than any other feature, batteries determine how attractive EVs are to consumers. Vehicle range, cost, safety, and convenience all depend on the quality of the battery. By 2040, the EV battery market will reach $2 trillion in Europe and North America alone. As most EV owners continue to lease or finance batteries as part of entire packages, differentiation in this area will continue to drive consumer sales.
Fortunately, battery and electric vehicle manufacturers have new opportunities for investments in this area. And as we will find, heavy duty progress needn’t require dramatic changes in how EVs are manufactured, shipped, and sold. This article provides insights into the most transformative—and easiest to adopt—EV battery manufacturing innovation to date.
SMALL CHANGES AND BIG PROGRESS IN EV BATTERY MANUFACTURING
The original EV batteries were simple, but their replacements are much more sophisticated. They may include features to reduce thermal damage, increase longevity, and give the batteries unique operational qualities in specific vehicle models.
But enhancing battery performance requires system-level changes to succeed. It’s in both semiconductor and automotive ecosystems where the greatest changes—and the clearest winners and losers—are emerging today. Recent breakthroughs in battery electrode technology bring improved power, energy density, and performance compared to traditional battery designs.
In most industries, innovations require dramatic changes to manufacturing processes. But new, leading-edge technologies allow manufacturers to retain their existing core technologies and best practices.
It starts with a new approach to manufacturing battery electrodes. Most EV batteries use polymer binders and primers to hold battery electrode material together. These are critical to the mechanics of traditional EV batteries.However, such methods come with major drawbacks:
• Costly to manufacture
• Reduced performance
• Shorter range
• Shorter battery life cycles
New methods eliminate those materials, replacing them with an advanced 3D nanoscopic carbon binding structure instead. These structures are cost-effective and made with widely available and sourceable materials. Best of all, manufacturers can reap the benefits of this technology using the same equipment they use today. (This makes it distinct from another popular cost-saving method, dry-battery manufacturing processes, which require different equipment.)
This seemingly small change provides transformative results for endusers:
• Improved energy recovery
• Improved acceleration and breaking
• Improved temperature range of operation
• Reduced thermal management costs
• Reduced charging times
• Increased longevity
• Reduced overall costs of ownership
OPTIMIZING EXISTING MANUFACTURING, SIMPLY AND EFFECTIVELY
Nanoramic® has mastered a process that coats nanocomposite materials on top of battery substrates—such as the metallic foils already common in EV batteries—that serve as current collectors. The electrode technology, called Neocarbonix™, eliminates the need for polymer binders inactive materials typically found on the top or bottom of current collectors.This comes with significant performance advantages, but also reduced cost of production as the production speed has changed.
“Nanoramic’s Neocarbonix™ electrode technology addresses the most critical challenges facing energy storage for the electrical vehicle market. In simple terms, Neocarbonix™ gives battery makers more bang for their buck. Neocarbonix™ works with traditional battery manufacturing processes but eliminates the [costliest] manufacturing steps while increasing the energy density of the resulting battery. To the end user, this means more affordable electric vehicles with increased range.”
Katie Willgoos, Vice President of Marketing at Nanoramic® Laboratories, in an interview in Tech Company News
Meanwhile, manufacturers concerned about overhauling existing equipment and processes to take advantage of these benefits don’t have to worry.
Here are a few of the key benefits highlighted by manufacturers:
• Reduced cost to manufacture. Manufacturers can speed up the process of coating active materials with solvents. The Neocarbonix™ process is solvent agnostic, so manufacturers can use solvents that are less expensive, less toxic, easier to use, and faster to dry.
• Increased energy density. Neocarbonix™ makes active battery cell layers thicker, increasing the ratio of inactive to active material, while keeping excellent C-rate capabilities in charge and discharge.
• Higher charge and discharge power. Electrodes feature 10 to 100 times more electrically conductive active material layers, resulting in higher C-rates and power density.
• Improved performance. By removing polymer binders from the formula, batteries produced with Neocarbonix™ drive better key performance indicators than other EV batteries. These include improved high- and low-temperature operation as well as significantly lower internal impedance.
• Longer battery life cycles. High mechanical flexibility and uniform electrical conductivity of active material layers during charge/discharge cycles allows for a much longer life cycle before replacement.
• Compatibility. Most manufacturers can leverage existing coating and calendering equipment in their manufacturing lines, only minor changes in the production line might be required.
GETTING STARTED WITH NEOCARBONIX™
Nanoramic® Laboratories is the creator and exclusive designer, manufacturer, and licenser of Neocarbonix™ electrodes. Manufacturers across industries trust Neocarbonix™ technology to reduce production costs and boost battery performance for business-critical applications.
No matter your manufacturing process, working with Nanoramic® is easy. We connect with your team for small-, medium-, or large-batch quantities, with a sole focus on adding value to your existing operations. Contact us directly and discover how Neocarbonix™ can drive real value for your buyers and end customers.