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Good news for electric cars: Research on track to reduce battery testing from years to weeks

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Spending 10 years to find out whether batteries for electric cars will last 10 years is one of the major hurdles facing battery makers and automotive companies. The problem is even more challenging for power grids and medical devices that need batteries to last 30 years or longer.

Fortunately, hope is on the horizon. A leading battery expert at Dalhousie University has built a device that can cut that testing time to just two weeks, while saving companies millions of dollars in the process. The technology precisely measures amounts of lithium too small for commercially available equipment. Those measurements make it possible to accurately estimate how many years a battery cell will last, and how many cycles it can sustain.

Dr. Jeff Dahn, one of the pioneers of the lithium battery used in cell phones, laptops and many digital cameras, is collaborating on an Automotive Partnership Canada project with five industry partners to bring that solution to market. The goal is to design lithium-ion batteries for automotive, medical and power grid applications that last longer, cost less and pack a bigger power punch.

The ability to obtain rapid feedback on the performance of new, low-cost materials will spur innovation by enabling companies to fast-track testing of new materials and chemistries to quickly determine whether they provide a competitive edge.

Faster testing also will speed up the rollout of more durable and less expensive batteries, which is key to creating broad market acceptance of electric vehicles. Read more...