7. August 2012
Although the biggest challenge for the proliferation of electric vehicles (EVs) is undoubtedly the battery—they tend to be expensive, heavy, and not all that great when it comes to providing range—arguably, given the number of organizations that are zealously trying to develop batteries this is something that is likely to be overcome.
While some might argue that this is unguided optimism, further support for this comes from a recent announcement by GE, Ford and the University of Michigan about a three-year, $3.1-million program designed to improve the performance of batteries.
One aspect of this is using a GE-developed ultrathin battery sensor system that will be sued to model cell behavior so as to achieve superior modeling of cell behavior.
Explained Aaron Knoblock, principal investigator and mechanical engineer at GE Global Research, “With better sensors and new battery analytics, we think we can make substantial progress at increasing battery life. This, in turn, could help bring down its overall cost and the cost entitlement of buying an electric car.”
A prototype traction motor developed by GE researchers in their lab in Niskayuna, NY, for EV and hybrid vehicles. Who would have thought that GE would be a powertrain supplier for the auto industry? (Photo: Business Wire)
Tony Philips, Senior Technical Leader, Vehicle Controls, Research and Engineering, Ford Motor Company, said: "This collaboration brings together a diverse set of experts on sensor technology, controls and modeling, and automotive engineering to innovate on some of the most critical elements of battery technology. Ultimately, through this collaboration we anticipate being able to deliver more cost-effective and durable battery system solutions to our customers."
In other words, by having leaders in electricity (GE), research (University of Michigan) and automotive engineering (Ford), there is a good chance that better batteries are not that far away. Which means more EVs.