Electric Vehicles May Drive Hundreds of Miles on Single Charge

Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials

Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials

With gasoline prices still hovering near $4 per gallon, scientists at Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) are helping to develop electric vehicles capable of driving hundreds of miles on a single charge. A new compound of five tin atoms and one iron atom (FeSn5) created at the CFN is another development along the road to higher capacity lithium-ion batteries for those vehicles of the future.

Compared to other types of rechargeable batteries, lithium-ion batteries weigh less, can store more electricity for longer periods of time, and can handle more cycles of use and recharging. They are used in some electric cars today, but are not yet powerful enough to compete with cars that can travel 300-400 miles on a single tank of gasoline.

Lithium-ion batteries provide energy as electricity flows from an anode to the device being powered and then back to the battery’s cathode. One way researchers compare batteries with different components is by examining theoretical capacities – how much charge a battery can store theoretically in ideal conditions, and practical capacities – how much charge a battery can store in real-world conditions that are more similar to everyday use. BNL scientists found that the practical capacity for anodes of FeSn5 was 100 percent higher than the ideal capacity for anodes used in conventional lithium-ion batteries.

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