Episode 153: How many miles can an electric vehicle go before running out of energy?

Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, discusses the current range of electric vehicles, how range can be improved with new battery technology, and what problems this new technology may introduce.

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Batteries for Hybrid and Plug In Electric Vehicles from the US Department of Energy

Rechargeable Lithium Air Batteries from Advanced Research Projects Agency- Energy

Hybrid and Plug In Electric Vehicles from the US Department of Energy

Transcript

HOST:     Are you thinking about buying an electric car, but worried about how far it can go before it runs out of energy?  On this week’s Energy Bite, Venkat Viswanathan, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

VENKAT: Most electric vehicles today go about 200 miles on a single charge of a lithium ion battery.  Consumers, however, want vehicles to go 300 to 500 miles before they are willing to purchase them.  If you added enough batteries to a car so it could go 500 miles, however, the battery pack becomes more than half the weight of the car.  This reduces the vehicle’s overall energy efficiency, and therefore the benefit of buying an electric car.

HOST:     How can an electric vehicle’s range be increased?

VENKAT: One option is to switch from a lithium ion battery to a lithium air battery.  These batteries can increase a vehicle’s range up to 500 miles without increasing the vehicle’s weight. The challenge with lithium air batteries is that these batteries do not do so well when you recharge them.  These batteries can only last for 10s of cycles and we want the batteries to last much much longer than that.

HOST:     Would the range of an electric vehicle influence your decision to buy one? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

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