# Cheaper Electric Vehicle Battery?

I notice that electric vehicle batteries (such as the one in the Tesla) are made of a bahzillion little batteries. I also notice that electric vehicle batteries seem to be absurdly expensive.

A small battery is made of a case, some metals and chemicals.
Can they not scale up this process and make one big battery for cheap?

Let me know what I'm missing?

I realize it it may not be as simple as making two giant electrodes, but even if you need many smaller electrodes, why cannot they pre-fab the metal parts, then lower it into the pre-fabbed container and then pour in the chemicals. Yes I'm oversimplifying but you get the picture. One big battery coming of the assembly line every second at a cost of several hundred bux.

An analogy is a microchip. They don't make thousands of transistors and then pay people with microscopes to assemble the darn things, they try (as best as they can) to make the whole thing in as few steps as possible.

It's the oil companies sabotaging the process right?

jim hardy
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
It's the oil companies sabotaging the process right?

nahhh, everybody knows its the Bilderbergers and the Masons.

I suggest you read the thread in EE section "Problems with dreamliner battery" there's some good links to battery information there.

NascentOxygen
Staff Emeritus
A small battery is made of a case, some metals and chemicals.
Can they not scale up this process and make one big battery for cheap?

Let me know what I'm missing?

Let's see whether I understand what you're asking. Instead of powering a particular device with 6 AAA cells, why don't we power it with a single D cell? Does that encapsulate your query?

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Let's see whether I understand what you're asking. Instead of powering a particular device with 6 AAA cells, why don't we power it with a single D cell? Does that encapsulate your query?

Not quite. The way I understand AAA and D cells...they are both single 1.5V cells. The larger one just has more capacity. Hey, if they can make a EV motor that will run on a single cell, then it would work. But I suspect you are going to need both higher voltage and capacity, hence you would need individual cells arranged in both series and parallel.

You would have (just spit-ballin' here) a robotic assembly line that would cut/shape/bend the electrodes and weld them into some matrix. The case would have a bunch of cavities (cells). Set the electrode matrix into the case. Hopefully the whole thing could be made in a cube like fashion, but if not, you could make layers and then stack them. Pump in the chem, bing you're done. Feel free to use this idea as it is now public domain ;)

BTW - I'm sure that he design and mass production cost of a battery and electric motor must be less than that of a gasoline motor. The savings have to be even greater when you are talking about the total life cycle (and I'm ignoring the energy costs here). I'm just talking about the recycling cost. I would think that recycling a battery would lend itself to automation where the items could be easily separated, re-used or re manufactured. Can we not get the price so low that nobody would worry about the thing wearing-out and they would just cheaply exchange it when it is tired.

jim hardy
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
Electric vehicle technology is about where steam power was in 1800.
Boilers were hand made and tended to explode, chemistry of water was not well understood, 50 psi was considered very high pressure,controls were primitive and fuel was mostly wood .
They needed a better energy source. When petroleum came along and moved combustion from the firebox into the cylinder, the machine age took off in earnest.

My longrange bet for lightweight high capacity batteries is still with Aluminum-Oxygen chemistry.

old jim

You can make a battery any way you want to, but the real trick is getting them to last 30 years.

OmCheeto
Gold Member
nahhh, everybody knows its the Bilderbergers and the Masons.

I suggest you read the thread in EE section "Problems with dreamliner battery" there's some good links to battery information there.

You weren't referring to my post were you? Where I asked, and preemptively presented the answer, to the OP's question?

For example, with seven thousand 18650 cells the surface area is roughly 27 square meters. If there were an imaginary set of 20 much larger cube-shaped cells that enclosed the same volume, the surface area would be only 3.5 square meters, more than seven times smaller. Surface area is essential to cooling batteries since the surface is where heat is removed; more is better. Also, because of their small size, each cell is able to quickly redistribute heat within and shed heat to the ambient environment making it essentially isothermal. This cooling architecture avoids “hot spots” which can lead to failures in large battery modules.

My mind has been in pre-retirement, "Finally, I'll have time to solve things, that need, solving!", overdrive lately.

wdoe999, your question is quite valid, and in my opinion, worthy of further research.

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the first person who references the Twilight Zone, gets a point........

If there were an imaginary set of 20 much larger cube-shaped cells that enclosed the same volume, the surface area would be only 3.5 square meters

Ah good point.
I'm hoping that if cooling spaces or channels are needed, they would be incorporated into the mold of the case. I emphasize "mold" meaning that it is a one-shot process and it does not require manual labour to drill holes or inert parts etc.

You can make a battery any way you want to, but the real trick is getting them to last 30 years.

My longrange bet for lightweight high capacity batteries is still with Aluminum-Oxygen chemistry.
old jim

If they could just use the current battery chemistry and just get the cost down to a reasonable price, I wouldn't mind spending a reasonable amount every 5 (or even 2) years to recycle the battery.

They could really get economies of scale of they standardized on a battery that is independent of the car. Then outside manufacturers could compete and ramp-up production/recycling to get the cost down. Oh yea, I know that part won't happen. The guys that standardized the original A, AA, C, D batteries must have kicked themselves when they missed the opportunity to gouge the public with proprietary equipment.

OmCheeto
Gold Member
You can make a battery any way you want to, but the real trick is getting them to last 30 years.

I hate to keep bringing up Mr. Chu all the time, but someone tried to corner him into a "gotcha" moment, when I saw him a couple of weeks ago, regarding battery lifespan.

Mr Chu, chewed him up.......

And then some guy on a microphone said; "the question and answer period is over"....... :grumpy:

NascentOxygen
Staff Emeritus
You would have (just spit-ballin' here) a robotic assembly line that would cut/shape/bend the electrodes and weld them into some matrix. The case would have a bunch of cavities (cells). Set the electrode matrix into the case.
I get the picture. So when one cell fails you bin the whole shebang?!

I think that answers why economics dictates lots of individual cells. That old bugbear: cost of repairs.

jim hardy
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
OMCheeto said:
My mind has been in pre-retirement, "Finally, I'll have time to solve things, that need, solving!", overdrive lately.

Well, if you're like me your attention will shift to things you enjoy.
I enjoy projects that "Beat the System" or "Preserve Masterful Handiworks".

I no longer feel guilty if I spend a whole day:
Rewinding a dishwasher motor - our dishwasher is a really good $650 one and a new motor costs almost$300.
Rework an old Garcia 300 fishing reel - it's one of the good Made in France models with superb craftsmanship.
Retrofit a modern fuel pump to a 1955 Johnson outboard. Those classics were built to last forever and are doing it quite well.
Rescue a '68 Ford Pickup from the car crusher: No "Check Engine Light", no metric bolts, no problems. It'll soon be my daily driver.
Share experience with folks on PF. I hope I contribute 1% as much as I get.

OM - you'll like retirement. Are you a chemist? Here's hoping you invent the next generation storage battery.

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256bits
Gold Member
Can they not scale up this process and make one big battery for cheap?

Probably quite the opposite from a manufacturing economic point of view.

If you are the manufacturer would you rather sell only 100's of large batteries to a limited clientel or millions of smaller batteries to a much larger group of purchasers, who can order anything from 1cell to 1000's of cells. By producing and selling more cells your cost of production would be lower versus few of the larger battery. Also your selling price can be competative since you do not have to factor in the possible termination of contracts with a limited clientel.

OmCheeto
Gold Member
Well, if you're like me your attention will shift to things you enjoy.
I enjoy projects that "Beat the System" or "Preserve Masterful Handiworks".

I no longer feel guilty if I spend a whole day:
Rewinding a dishwasher motor - our dishwasher is a really good $650 one and a new motor costs almost$300.
Rework an old Garcia 300 fishing reel - it's one of the good Made in France models with superb craftsmanship.
Retrofit a modern fuel pump to a 1955 Johnson outboard. Those classics were built to last forever and are doing it quite well.
Rescue a '68 Ford Pickup from the car crusher: No "Check Engine Light", no metric bolts, no problems. It'll soon be my daily driver.
I'm drooling.....
Share experience with folks on PF. I hope I contribute 1% as much as I get.
Not sure if I mentioned, that I've a lifetime PF membership. And I'd not be PO'd if they banned me, as I get as much in two weeks here, as in a lifetime, anywhere else.
OM - you'll like retirement. Are you a chemist? Here's hoping you invent the next generation storage battery.
Chemist? I can't even figure out how a potato battery* works!

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*just trying to stay on topic.

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Battery energy storage is a great case of the difference between public perception and technology.

The FIRST automobile was electric - so this "opportunity" has been around for ~180 Years ... The battery is a trade off of MANY factors:

Electrical Capacity and Effectiveness ( Cycle Efficiency, Charge Rate, Discharge rate, number of cycles) , Lifetime, Cost, Weight, Safety, Reliability, Durability, Thermal engineering, etc.... Each battery type (chemistry) has different benefits and drawbacks.

And yet the VAST majority of batteries made (in total energy capacity ) is still the Oldest Rechargeable Technology - Lead Acid......

NascentOxygen
Staff Emeritus
I'm drooling.....
Not over your avatar, you won't be! What has happened to it? It's unrecognizable as anything.

I intended quipping: not a chemist? but you seem to have mastered the art of blowing bubble gum in the shape of a light bulb!

OmCheeto
Gold Member
Battery energy storage is a great case of the difference between public perception and technology.

The FIRST automobile was electric - so this "opportunity" has been around for ~180 Years ... The battery is a trade off of MANY factors:

Electrical Capacity and Effectiveness ( Cycle Efficiency, Charge Rate, Discharge rate, number of cycles) , Lifetime, Cost, Weight, Safety, Reliability, Durability, Thermal engineering, etc.... Each battery type (chemistry) has different benefits and drawbacks.
These are the metrics Professor Chu mentioned, when he was accused of forgetting one. He covered about 60 topics in 90 minutes, and didn't bother with the minutiae.
And yet the VAST majority of batteries made (in total energy capacity ) is still the Oldest Rechargeable Technology - Lead Acid......

They are fairly safe, and they scale up very nicely, with no problems. See: Submarine battery.

Each ~2 volt cell weighs about 3/4 of a ton.

hmmm.... According to my calculations, each submarine cell has a capacity of ~30 kWh, at a cost of $5,000. (based on the numbers here) an equivalent capacity Lithium cell would cost$14,000 and weigh only 530 pounds.

hmmm....

Does anyone know, off the top of their head, who makes the largest Lithium ion cell?

OmCheeto
Gold Member
Not over your avatar, you won't be! What has happened to it? It's unrecognizable as anything.

I intended quipping: not a chemist? but you seem to have mastered the art of blowing bubble gum in the shape of a light bulb!

Why, that's an actual image of me, blowing bubbles, from my other end.

I can remember what prompted me to change my avatar to Fester, but not why I changed it to its current incarnation.

hmm.... I have a sense that I'm not in the lounge, and should.... ahem.....

To try and attempt to tie this all together:

Om said:
There's a vehicle in England that get's 6000 mpg. I don't see any difference in pedaling and using a motor running on human generated fuels. (See Wolram's idea)

Wolram said:
Theoreticaly if all one ate all day was a cornish pasty, how much methane could said pasty produce.

Alt-Bringer said:
there is some research going into the bioelectric systems of electric eels
mainly to create a small scale synthetic version of thier systems, for use in powering medical devices
like pacemakers

if they get that far, the next logical step would be "can we up-scale to create self-charging batteries"
starting most likely at cellphones then going to automotive, and evetually to "battery plants" (power stations)

FredGarvin said:
How can we say you've been on a wild goose chase if you haven't even said what you were looking for?

Om said:
I'm looking for the most efficient vehicle of course. (bicycles do not count)

Chroot said:
It sure would be cool if people finally realized that bicycles should count, but I guess that's not relevant here.

Everything is relevant, Warren.....

What metal could be incorporated, cheaply, to carry away the heat from an overworked, 500 lb, single lithium ion cell, to keep it from going into thermal runaway?

jim hardy
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
Batteries carry all their energy internally in their reactive chemicals.
Lead and lead sulphate are pretty benign so those batteries are comparatively safe.

Lithium is mighty reactive , and apparently will burn with aluminum.
That's why some Li ion battery chemistries are not safe. They have all the components they need for combustion already inside the battery so you cant put out a battery fire by conventional means.

My enthusiasm for aluminum is in the hope that a practical aluminum - air battery can be built. That'd give the battery same advantage that gasoline in a tank has - a lot of the chemical energy is in the air not inside the battery. So it can't run away by itself. And it'd be lighter because half the energy bearing molecules aren't in the battery.
But - Last reading I did said Al-air batteries had to operate around 400degF, and that's not practical.

just a dream that got started when I read Asimov's essay on aluminum. He described how energetic the Al-O bond is and that's why aluminum oxide makes such good abrasives - the molecules are tough. And why all aluminum refineries are always in cheap hydro electricity regions like Pacific Northwest and TVA...

Is there a chemist in the house?

old jim

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jim hardy
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
Asimov described this :
*Transforming alumina -- aluminum oxide -- into aluminum represented a major milestone in the industrial revolution. Until modern smelting techniques evolved, only small quantities of aluminum could be obtained. Most early processes relied on displacing aluminum with more reactive metals, but the metal remained expensive and relatively elusive. That all changed in 1886 -- the year two aspiring chemists and industrialists developed a smelting process based on electrolysis.
http://science.howstuffworks.com/aluminum3.htm

I read Asimov's essay around 1963 and assumed the process is reversible.

Somebody's working on it... http://aluminum.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Home&template=/CM/HTMLDisplay.cfm&ContentID=15793

The Technology
The aluminum-air fuel cell consists of an aluminum alloy anode, placed in a saline or alkaline electrolyte, which reacts with oxygen from the air or another source. Electricity is produced as the aluminum oxidizes. Physically, a typical cell consists of aluminum alloy plates and a gas diffusion cathode coupled by an electrolyte. When the aluminum alloy is consumed during the electrochemical reaction, a new plate is inserted and the reaction continues. The fuel cell is actually part battery, part fuel cell. Like a battery, the fuel is consumed within the cell. Like a fuel cell, the oxidant, in this case oxygen, is stored outside the cell and provided to the cathode as required

same fellow's sales pitch:
Technology Insights
Aluminum Air Fuel Cell Becoming Commercially Viable

Warren Hunt
While aluminum’s attributes in saving energy are highly publicized, perhaps less well known is the material’s potential role in generating energy. Developments started over 25 years ago on an aluminum-air fuel cell are now beginning to see commercial promise in a range of applications from cell phones to PCs to electric vehicles. How does the aluminum-air fuel cell work? What advantages does it have over conventional batteries and portable power sources? Who is producing these products? Read further to learn more.

OmCheeto
Gold Member
...
just a dream that got started when I read Aimov's essay on aluminum.
Aimov? I'm assuming your spell checker changed "Asimov" to "Aimov"

I'm starting to hate computers, also....
Is there a chemist in the house?

I've figured out that "Diprotic" means that two(di) protons(protic) are produced.

There is also the thermal aspect of battery chemistry that I've forgotten:

Batteries don't work in cold weather...

freakin' whiners.....

jim hardy
Gold Member
Dearly Missed

http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1366&doc_id=238863 [Broken]

To boost the range of pure electric vehicles (EVs), automakers need more onboard energy. To get more energy, they need bigger battery packs.

That's why manufacturers such as Tesla Motors and BYD Automobile are rolling out vehicles with massive EV battery packs. Tesla's Model S offers a choice of three packs -- 40kWh, 60kWh, and 85kWh. The smaller packs have approximately 5,000 cells in them, while the bigger packs incorporate 8,000 cells, and weigh up to 1,200 pounds. Similarly, BYD's highly anticipated e6 will use a 1,400lb, 71kWh battery.

Not all automakers are building such massive packs. Nissan's Leaf uses a 24kWh model, while the Chevy Volt employs a 16kWh battery, and the Toyota Prius PHV (a plug-in hybrid) incorporates a 5.2-kWh unit. We've collected photos of a wide range of EV battery packs, ranging from production to research devices.

Chevy volt battery has active cooling and will borrow "cold" from car airconditioner in hot weather.
Here is Toyota's, from the slideshow in that aticle:

What ever happened to simplicity? Right now a 1964 VW beetle looks good to me, even with its metric bolts.

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NascentOxygen
Staff Emeritus
Right now a 1964 VW beetle looks good to me, even with its metric bolts.
A 60s beetle! :swoon:

EDIT: I spoke too hastily. Those have their fuel tank located in front of the driver, don't they, not well placed for head-on impacts? [Broken]

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jim hardy
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
It appears to sit right over the front axle assembly. That assembly is robust tubes with torsion bars inside.

photo courtesy these guys: http://www.vwbug.com/cutaway/cutaway1000.html

Not too bad in my opinion - to crush it from the front you'd have to move a LOT of structural sheet metal. Were it between front bumper and front axle it'd be a Pinto setup- right in the crush zone.

What a wonderfully simple design - doesn't even need a fuel pump ! Anything that's not there can't quit working and strand you .

oops - I digress...

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jim hardy
Gold Member
Dearly Missed
somebody's still tinkering with aluminum batteries....
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1366&doc_id=273593&itc=dn_analysis_element& [Broken]

An Israel-based battery company has demonstrated an aluminum-air chemistry that it claims can deliver as much as 1,000 miles per charge to electric cars.

Clean technology company Phinergy, teaming with Alcoa, demonstrated the new electric car battery on a racetrack in Montreal this week in association with the Canadian International Aluminum Conference. At the demonstration, the two companies suggested the new technology would be used as an electric car range extender, in conjunction with a small conventional lithium-ion battery.

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