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Design and Production of Electric Vehicle Batteries

In recent decades, giants in the automobile manufacturing industry– General Motors, Ford Motor, and Volkswagen, to name a few–have been developing environmentally friendly, emission-free electric vehicles (EV) in an effort to transition from internal combustion cars. Much of the research into electric vehicles is focused on designing better electric vehicle batteries.

While the EV battery of choice at present is the lithium-ion battery, there is much room for improvement in terms of EV battery design so that they are efficient to assemble, more stable to prevent the occurrence of fires and explosions, able to provide greater driving range, and get charged fully at a faster time.

What are EV batteries?

Before we delve into EV battery pack design, let us refresh our memory on what EV batteries are. EV batteries are considered the “heart” of an electric vehicle, delivering electric power in order for an electric vehicle and its various systems to run. 

To those who are unfamiliar with electric vehicle battery systems, they mistakenly believe that this important part of the EV is only a single battery cell. In truth, EV batteries are made up of a number of individual EV battery cells. EV battery manufacturing allows for the aggregation of these cells into battery packs, but more on this in the section below.

What are EV batteries made of?

As we have mentioned above, an electric vehicle battery consists of a number of cells which are combined together in an EV battery pack. But exactly what are EV batteries made of?

Let’s first take a look at a single EV battery cell in order to know what they are made of. 

Each individual cell consists of six major EV battery components. There are two electrodes in a single cell: the negative electrode or anode is made of graphite while the positive electrode or cathode is made of aluminum, nickel, cobalt, manganese, iron, and lithium. 

Both electrodes, called current collectors, are wrapped in thin foils of aluminum (for the anode) and copper (for the cathode). The electrodes are then kept apart from each other to prevent short circuits by a separator made from polyolefin, a microporous polymer.

This entire setup is immersed in a liquid electrolyte of lithium hexafluorophosphate. Finally, these components are placed in battery enclosures, or a casing, made out of aluminum and steel.

There are three components in the hierarchy of EV battery pack design. The most basic unit is the EV battery cell, which we have previously discussed. Depending on the power requirements of an electric vehicle, a certain number of battery cells are combined to form an EV battery module. Last but not least, the modules are combined to form a single battery pack.

Sustainability in electric vehicle battery systems

Sustainability is an important factor in EV battery design. To that end, the use of readily obtainable materials sourced from the environment is key. 

At present, researchers are developing cobalt-free batteries since cobalt can only be obtained from the Democratic Republic of Congo, markedly increasing the cost of batteries.

Sustainable EV batteries also depend on recycling materials and components from old batteries into new ones. Recycling plants get aluminum, nickel, lithium, and other metals from old batteries.

Additionally, manufacturing EV batteries means developing new technologies to allow for better performance, efficiency, and safety at smaller, more compact sizes while utilizing materials and components that are easily acquired and improve design flexibility.

Researchers are predicting new technologies such as solid-state batteries, fast-charging batteries, and more to come today to the year 2030.

In conclusion

As we advance towards a future where electric vehicles play a pivotal role in reducing our carbon footprint and fostering a more sustainable mode of transportation, the evolution of EV battery technology remains at the heart of this transition. 

By focusing on the development of EV batteries, we are not only enhancing the performance and efficiency of EVs but also ensuring their production and lifecycle are aligned with environmental sustainability goals.

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