One of the features in the new Energy Quarterly (EQ) section in the September 2010 issue of the MRS Bulletin is Energy Sector Analysis. The focus of this feature in the current EQ is improved battery technologies for use in vehicles primarily powered by electricity rather than gasoline. Currently, electric vehicles are having their day in the sun, thanks in part to major improvements in battery technology.Many countries are looking toward electric vehicles for the benefits they offer in terms of energy security and the environment. Cutting the demand for gasoline would help reduce dependence on imported oil, shifting that demand to domestic electricity production. Whether electric vehicles will help reduce greenhouse gases depends on where their electric power comes from—fossil fuels or renewable sources—a mix that varies from one country to another.
The article by Corinna Wu discusses what it would take to get widespread adoption of plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars. For consumers, battery-powered cars need to have a range long enough to accommodate the average commute, reasonable recharging time, and affordable cost. Continued improvements in battery technology, as well as development of an infrastructure of recharging stations, are crucial to satisfy all these demands.
Various materials aspects are covered including Ni-metal hydride and Li ion batteries, as well as various anode, cathode and electrolyte materials. As Wu concludes towards the end of the article, “Soon, more and more drivers will be “filling up” with electrons instead of petroleum.”
Gopal R. Rao, Ph.D.
Web Science Editor
Materials Research Society (MRS)