View Full Version : Are electric vehicle batteries unsafe?

24 January 2011, 1532
That is one of the questions that are discussed in an article in my newspaper today written by Dana Hull of Mercurynews.com.

The article asks if the high cost of Li-ion batteries will prevent the price of EVs from decreasing? The answer is that Recovery Act investments in battery manufacturing are already driving down manufacturing costs and a December 2010 report by the auto team at Deutsche Bank noted a steep decline in battery prices.

The article asks if Lithium for batteries is a limited resource? The answer is that FMC Lithium, Western Lithium and Orocobre, estimate that there are 14 million to 30 million tons of lithium reserves on the planet, in the form of brine, ore and clay. That amount of lithium could supply power to billions of EVs.

The article asks if EVs are unsafe and of course the answer is no. All EV manufacturers are taking numerous measures to ensure that their batteries will not overheat and to prevent a short circuit.

The article asks if lithium batteries can be reused after they are no longer useful to power EVs. The answer is that some utility companies are looking for ways to use used lithium batteries as storage devices for their grid systems.

The article says that batteries perform best when their operating temperature is between 68-113 degrees Fahrenheit. Outside of that temperature range they may need to be thermally managed, such as what Tesla does with their liquid-cooled battery pack. Consumers that live in colder climates are likely to see a 25% reduced driving range, not only due to the effect of cold on the batteries, but also because they will be using an electric heating system.

It is also mentioned that “fast charging” can degrade battery life, according to Mark Wagner, VP, of Johnson Controls, which manufacturers li-ion batteries at its Holland, Michigan plant. It is also noted that consumers rarely follow directions when it comes to battery use.

The article also references a blog by Venkat Srinivasan, a staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkely National Lab, who writes about batteries at: www.thisweekinbatteries.blogspot.com