New Seeo battery could double EV driving range

A U.S. company has developed a prototype battery that stores twice as much energy than conventional cells which, in principle, could extend the driving range of electric vehicles.

Based on materials developed at the U.S. Department of Energy, the new lithium-ion battery could give affordable electric cars a range of over 200 miles per charge, according to Hal Zarem, CEO of Seeo, the start-up that’s working on the technology.

Alternatively, the improved battery could be used to downsize the size of battery packs while maintaining the current driving range, so reducing the overall price of electric vehicles.

Seeo, which is based in Hayward, California, recently raised $17 million from investors, including Samsung Ventures. The interest shown by the South Korean multinational suggests that the prototype has very positive characteristics in lab tests conducted so far.

The Seeo lithium-ion cell is a solid-state battery, meaning the liquid electrolyte more often used is replaced with a solid one. While solid state cells can store more energy, solid electrolytes tend not to conduct ions as well as liquid electrolytes. Pure lithium can also form metal filaments within the cell, known as ‘dendrites’, which cause short circuits.

In Seeo’s solid electrolyte cell, two polymer layers have been incorporated; one is soft and conducts ions, the other is hard and forms a physical barrier between the electrodes, to prevent the formation of dendrites.

However, key challenges remain. Tests to date have only demonstrated that the battery can undergo 100 charge cycles, whereas 1000 or more will be required in a commercial product.

The race is now on to develop the Seeo battery as existing lithium-ion batteries are also improving and becoming cheaper to produce. Tesla Motors and Panasonic, for example, have already announced their intention to manufacture a 200-mile EV battery for $35,000.

MIT Technology Review

Paris Mayor plans diesel ban by 2020

The mayor of Paris has laid out a plan for diesel cars to be banned from the French capital by 2020 to reduce air pollution.

A partial ban was imposed in March 2014 after the capital’s air quality was found to be the worst on record. Anne Hidalgo has now said she wants only ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEVs) including battery electric and plug-in hybrid models on the capitals’ main routes.

In addition to an increase in ULEVs, the plan would see parts of central Paris reducing private car use by introducing semi-pedestrianised zones. Vehicle use inside these zones would be limited to the cars of residents, and emergency and delivery vehicles. Buses, taxis and bicycles would not be affected.

Anne Hidalgo said: “The measure is clear: I want an end to diesel in Paris in 2020, if possible beyond the périphérique,” the traffic-clogged ringroad. She also plans to ban lorries from crossing Paris unless they have business in the city.”

The partial ban introduced earlier in 2014 brought in alternate driving days to tackle a pollution spikes earlier this year, but Hidalgo said she wants a complete ban on the dirtiest vehicles.

The mayor recognised the change could mean hardship for some drivers, who have turned to diesel as it’s cheaper than petrol. She said financial incentives would be available for the purchase of more environmentally friendly cars.

Around 80 per cent of the cars on French roads are diesel-powered, and latest stats reveal 65 per cent of new cars sold so far in 2014 were diesel.

From February 2015, France will start applying stickers to vehicles emitting the most pollution: diesel cars more than 13 years old will get a red sticker.

Guardian, BBC

ULEV market continues to show strong growth in UK

New SMMT figures released this month show that the new car market continues to exceed expectations amid rising consumer confidence. Registrations grew for the 33rd consecutive month in November, up 8.0% to 172,327 units.

In total, 2,310,237 cars registered in the year-to-date, a rise of 9.4% and ahead of the 2013 full-year total.

The year-to-date figures for November also reveal strong growth in the low carbon vehicle market with sales up 105% on this time last year. While this category includes conventional hybrids as well as pure electric vehicles, the figures reflect the increase in demand for battery electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles (termed ‘Ultra Low Emission Vehicles’) with CO2 emissions of 75g/km or less.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said, “Six months after the record was broken for consecutive monthly growth in new car registrations, the market continues to march on. Today’s figures are an indication of the continuing economic confidence that is driving the new car market, with business, fleet and private registrations all showing strong rises in the month. We expect a more stable market in 2015.

“Demand for ULEVs is also growing strongly, and we welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to support the charge point network for electric vehicles, as well as ULEV R&D in the UK.”