Well that is what they hope to do
Scientists from London-based UltraCap Ltd. are in the final stages of developing a “green” solid state battery for electric vehicles that they claim will be 40 times lighter than current Lithium-Ion . UltraCap founders, Professor Vladimir Krstic and Nico Van Dongen, say their new battery, the UltraCapacitor, will be able to charge within minutes and that, eventually, a pocket-sized version of the battery will bring us one step closer to emission-free transportation.
The key to Professor Krstic’s invention is a ceramic-based, high capacitance capacitator that, unlike current chemical-based solid-state batteries (such as the Lithium-Ion battery), is eco-friendly.
Krstic says: “Right now, electric car batteries are acid-based, toxic, environmentally-unfriendly and heavy with a limited life span. Moreover, charging stations remain scarce. Our UltraCapacitor will significantly reduce the long hours currently required to recharge electric cars. It can endure millions of charging cycles, is fully recyclable and contains no environmentally harmful elements. It paves the way for zero-emission transportation worldwide.”
A battery breakthrough?
Krstic has already proved that his ceramic battery can contain much more electricity in a smaller size than current chemical based batteries. This is due to a multi-layered capacitator design, containing a ceramic di-electric non-conductor. What happens is a number of these capacitators are daisy-chained together to form a small, lightweight green battery. Using this technology, the release of electricity is not limited by chemical reaction rates, so electric cars can recharge in minutes as opposed to hours.
Furthermore, production of this next-generation battery will be cheaper and cleaner, making electric vehicles more affordable in future.
The company is currently developing a prototype that is anticipated to weigh less than 20kg (the Tesla Model S 70kWh battery package weighs 535kg) and deliver five consecutive hours of driving. Once complete, the prototype will be fully tested in an electric car.
The experimental work over the past two years consisted of three steps. The first step centred on the development of bulk capacitor ceramics with high capacitance/dielectric constant to be used as reference materials. The second step centred on the development of high surface area ceramics with improved charge storage capabilities.
The third step will centre on the development dielectric films on metal substrate with good adherence to the metal substrate and possessing no pitting or discontinuities responsible for decrease in capacitance. We will use a novel ultrasound technology for mixing and grain refinement.
High surface area
A high surface area is important to prevent electric run away. Extensive work has already been done.
SEM ceramic thin film
After sintering surface uniformity and thickness of the films were observed under the Optical and Electron Microscopes. No defects were observed and the thicknessof the films varied from 10 to 100 microns.
Bonding to metal electrodes
The increase in dielectric constant with sintering temperature is believed to be associated with the increase in film density and in the improvement in film adherence/bonding to the metal electrodes.
A powder was pressed and fired at various temperatures ranging to produce dense non-porous samples.The samples were then electroded and tested for capacitance (C), dielectric constant (K), dielectric loss (loss tan) and temperature coefficient of capacitance (TCC).
A Significantly higher dielectric constant was achieved with samples as shown in Fig. 1
Krstic believes the technology can be improved further and that heavy chemical-based batteries will soon become redundant: “We can make the ceramic di-electric much thinner and lighter without losing electrical capacity and create pocket size car batteries in the near future.’ The technology has the potential to revolutionize the way electrical energy is stored and transported. Due to high energy density and small size, it will be possible to charge the device in all regions of the world where electricity is abundant and inexpensive and then transport it to urban areas where it is needed the most.”
UltraCap is currently looking for funding to develop the project further.
About Prof Krstic:
Krstic is co-founder of UltraCap Investment Ltd. and a professor at Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada with a track record in managing government and private sector funded projects for more than 30 years, Dr. Krstic has successfully completed more than 30 different projects funded by various federal and provincial programs, as well as private sector companies. He is also inventor of several new technologies and has authored and co-authored eight patents in the area of advanced functional ceramics.
Ultra Capacitor Tutorial
- A capacitor consists of two metal plates separated by a dielectric.
- The dielectric can be made of many insulating materials such as air, glass, paper, plastic etc.
- A capacitor is capable of storing electrical charge and energy.
- The higher the value of capacitance, the more charge the capacitor can store.
- The larger the area of the plates or the smaller their separation the more charge the capacitor can store.
- A capacitor is said to be “Fully Charged” when the voltage across its plates equals the supply voltage.
- The symbol for electrical charge is Q and its unit is the Coulomb.
- Electrolytic capacitors are polarized. They have a +ve and a -ve terminal.
- Capacitance is measured in Farads, which is a very large unit so micro-Farad ( uF ), nano-Farad ( nF ) andpico-Farad ( pF ) are generally used.
- Capacitors that are daisy chained together in a line are said to be connected in Series.
- Capacitors that have both of their respective terminals connected to each terminal of another capacitor are said to be connected in Parallel.
- Parallel connected capacitors have a common supply voltage across them.
- Series connected capacitors have a common current flowing through them.
- Capacitive reactance is the opposition to current flow in AC circuits.
- In AC capacitive circuits the voltage “lags” the current by 90o.