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The End of Range Anxiety

The Argonne National Laboratory in the US has discovered a way to raise the future driving range of standard EVs to a thousand miles or more. Better yet, it promises to do so cheaply without exhausting the global supply of critical minerals in the process.

Still from the movie Thelma and Louise
Still from the movie Thelma and Louise | Wikipedia

The joint enterprise with the Illinois Institute of Technology has achieved a remarkable leap in the energy density of battery cells. The typical lithium-ion battery used in the car industry today stores about 200 watt-hours per kilo (Wh/kg). Their lab experiment has already reached 675 with a lithium-air variant and the team believes it can reach a whopping 1,200 Wh/kg.

This is a high enough density to power trucks, trains, and arguably mid-haul aircraft, long thought to be beyond the reach of electrification. If so, almost all global transport can be decarbonised more easily than we thought.

The Argonne Laboratory in Chicago is not alone in pushing the boundaries of energy storage and EV technology. The specialist press reports eye-watering breakthroughs almost every month from all around the world, but it's often difficult to ascertain which 'breakthroughs' are truly credible.

Happily, US national labs have triple A credibility and, furthermore, the study is peer-reviewed and has just appeared in the research journal Science. The bottom line: their solid-state battery has achieved the highest energy density yet seen anywhere in the world.

What the Argonne-IIF battery and other global breakthroughs show collectively is that energy science is moving so fast that what seemed impossible five years ago is already a discernible reality, and that we will be looking at a very different technological landscape before the end of this decade.

Dog looking out of a car window


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