Self-Heating Batteries Could Solve the Cold Issue for E-Bikes

Future EV batteries could be protected against the adverse effects of cold environments. A new type of self-heating batteries could solve the cold issue with a much smaller energy draw than you'd expect.
Self-heating batteries are here 3 photos
Self-Heating BatteriesSelf-Heating Batteries
Temperatures below zero Celsius are a real menace for the battery packs electric vehicles are equipped with. When the ambient temperature drops below the freezing point, the overall performance of any battery also drops significantly.

Performance plummets by as much as 40-50%, and all the functional aspects suffer. When exposed to freezing environments, batteries experience massive power loss and they will charge much more slowly.

Talking about the EV, this also translates in reduced efficiency for the regenerative braking and significantly scaled-down range. With range anxiety still being one of the major issues when it comes to using an electric vehicle, owning one in a region where temperatures are close to zero or below for several months each year can be a serious drawback for the industry.
A thin nickel foil wrapping the cells uses resistive heating when current passes through it
We somehow expected the idea behind this concept to be a rather simple one. The creators of this technology used a 50-micrometer nickel foil wrapped around the cells, with one end attached to the negative terminal, while the other end extends outside the cell.

A temperature sensor triggers a switch that closes the circuit and lets the current flow through the nickel foil, causing it to heat. Nickel was chosen for its good heating properties and low cost.

According to the creators of this concept, the self-heating battery can go from -20 C (-4F) to 0 C (32F) in 20 seconds, and from -30 C (-22F) to zero in 30 seconds. As opposed to the power loss suffered in such inclement temperatures (the 40% we mentioned earlier), the energy consumption for keeping the battery warm is of only 3.8 per cent and 5.5 per cent of cell capacity, respectively.

"The self-heated all-climate battery cell yields a discharge/regeneration power of 1,061/1,425 watts per kilogram at a 50 percent state of charge and at minus 30 degrees Celsius, delivering 6.4–12.3 times the power of state-of-the-art lithium-ion cells," the creators of this technology tell Nature magazine.

Such battery packs could mean a big step in the electric motorcycle world as well. Electric cars have plenty of room for energy storage, but this is a luxury bikes can't afford. With better batteries that can take care of themselves in cold environments, e-bikes could gain new momentum in markets where temperatures below zero are a common thing.


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