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Self-heating lithium-ion battery could beat the winter woes

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

A lithium-ion battery that self heats if the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit has multiple applications, but may have the most impact on relieving winter "range anxiety" for electric vehicle owners, according to a team of researchers from Penn State and EC Power, State College.

"It is a long standing problem that batteries do not perform well at subzero temperatures," said Chao-Yang Wang, William E. Diefenderfer Chair of mechanical engineering, professor of chemical engineering and professor of materials science and engineering and director, Electrochemical Engine Center.  "This may not be an issue for phones and laptops, but is a huge barrier for electric vehicles, drones, outdoor robots and space applications."

Conventional batteries at below freezing temperatures suffer severe power loss, which leads to slow charging in cold weather, restricted regenerative breaking and reduction of vehicle cruise range by as much as 40 percent, the researchers said in today's (Jan. 20) issue of Nature.  These problems require larger and more expensive battery packs to compensate for the cold sapping of energy.