Electric VehiclesUsing energy stored in the batteries of electric vehicles to power large buildings not only provides electricity for the building, but also increases the lifespan of the vehicle batteries, new research shows.

Researchers have demonstrated that vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology can take enough energy from idle electric vehicle (EV) batteries to be pumped into the grid and power buildings—without damaging the batteries.

This new research into the potentials of V2G shows that it could actually improve vehicle battery life by around ten percent over a year.

For two years, Kotub Uddin, a senior research fellow at the University of Warwick’s Warwick Manufacturing Group, and his team analyzed some of the world’s most advanced lithium ion batteries used in commercially available EVs—and created one of the most accurate battery degradation models existing in the public domain—to predict battery capacity and power fade over time, under various aging acceleration factors—including temperature, state of charge, current, and depth of discharge.

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An interdisciplinary team, including 32 year ECS member Stuart Licht and ECS student member Matthew Lefler, has developed a way to make electric vehicles that are not only carbon neutral, but carbon negative – capable of reducing the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide as they operate by transforming the greenhouse gas.

By replacing the graphite electrodes that are currently being used in the development of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars with carbon materials recovered from the atmosphere, the researchers have been able to develop a recipe for converting collected carbon dioxide into batteries.

This from Vanderbilt University:

The team adapted a solar-powered process that converts carbon dioxide into carbon so that it produces carbon nanotubes and demonstrated that the nanotubes can be incorporated into both lithium-ion batteries like those used in electric vehicles and electronic devices and low-cost sodium-ion batteries under development for large-scale applications, such as the electric grid.

Read the full article.

The research is not the first time scientists have shown progress in collecting and converting harmful greenhouse gases from the environment.

Typically, carbon dioxide conversion revolves around transforming the gas into low-value fuels such as methanol. These conversions often do not justify the costs.

(MORE: Read “Carbon Nanotubes Produced from Ambient Carbon Dioxide for Environmentally Sustainable Lithium-Ion and Sodium-Ion Battery Anodes.“)

However, the new process produces better batteries that are not only expected to be efficient, but also cost effective.

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A New Generation of Electric Car Battery

Scientists out of the University of Waterloo are one step closer to inventing a cheaper, lighter and more powerful rechargeable battery for electric vehicles. At the heart of this discovery lies a breakthrough in lithium-sulfur batteries due to an ultra-thin nanomaterial.

This from the University of Waterloo:

Their discovery of a material that maintains a rechargeable sulfur cathode helps to overcome a primary hurdle to building a lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery. Such a battery can theoretically power an electric car three times further than current lithium-ion batteries for the same weight – at much lower cost.

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Smart Streets: The Highway Is Getting Brighter

The painted road markings are said to be able to glow up to eight hours in the dark.Credit: Roosegaarde

The painted road markings are said to be able to glow up to eight hours in the dark.
Credit: Roosegaarde

There has been a great deal of debate and innovation in smart cars recently, but why just stop at the car? Why not make a smart highway?

At least that’s the question Dutch developer Heijmans and designer Daan Roosegaard are asking. Since 2012 the duo have been talking about and drumming up game plans for innovative designs that would improve road sustainability, safety, and perception.

These ideas include: electric priority lane, which would allow electric cars to charge themselves while driving; dynamic paint, which would glow or become transparent upon sensing temperature in order to let you know road conditions; and interactive light, which would be controlled by sensors to active only when traffic approaches in order to create sustainable road light.

But the company’s main, and most tangible, development is their glow-in-the-dark lining.

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Self-Driving Cars by next Year?

With new technology and scientific breakthroughs in the automobile industry, everyone is waiting for the first car that will be able to run autonomously. Now, it may be closer than we expected.

Tesla Motors’ CEO and chief product architect, Elon Musk, made a prediction in September of 2013 stating that Tesla automobiles would operate autonomously for “90 percent of miles driven within three years.” Musk has now revised his statement and has proponents of autopilot capable cars hopeful for the future.

This from IEEE Spectrum:

One year later, he’s revised his estimate a bit, now saying that “a Tesla car next year will probably be 90 percent capable of autopilot. Like, so 90 percent of your miles can be on auto. For sure highway travel.” Although he didn’t go into any detail (besides some suggestion of an obligatory sensor fusion approach), Musk seems confident that this is something that Tesla will make happen, not just sometime soon, but actually next year.

Read the full article here.

While there is still much ambiguity on what Musk’s statement actually entails, we will be waiting to see what technology Tesla puts forward within the next year.

Want to find out more about the future of the automobile? Take a look at what our scientist are researching via our Digital Library.