The US Department of Energy (DOE) announced up to $45 million in funding (DE-FOA-0002760) to support the domestic development of advanced batteries for electric vehicles. Through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the Department is launching the Electric Vehicles for American Low-Carbon Living (EVs4ALL) program to develop more affordable, convenient, efficient and resilient batteries.
The ARPA-E EVs4ALL funding opportunity aims to address the following market concerns and dramatically increase domestic electric vehicle adoption by eliminating key detractors for consumers:
Faster charging: While installing charging infrastructure at home is the preferred option for many electric vehicle drivers, many Americans live in residences that are not equipped with garages or carports to house a charging port. Advanced batteries capable of safe, rapid charging are necessary to appeal to these Americans who are unable to charge cars at home for long periods of time. This will decrease the amount of time drivers spend at charging stations to as low as five minutes, while ensuring increased costs savings during each charge.
Improved low-temperature performance: Current batteries for electric vehicles lose performance when temperatures drop below freezing. Developing more efficient batteries that can withstand much colder temperatures is key to ensuring batteries can power vehicles in the coldest parts of the country as well as motivating broader adoption amongst drivers who live in those regions.
Improved resilience: Addressing range anxiety among potential electric vehicle owners is key to consumer buy-in and their overall comfort level of operating their vehicle for long-distance traveling. Battery resilience is needed for range retention to allow electric vehicles to travel longer distances between charges and have better overall total life mileage. This is particularly important for the two-thirds of Americans who prefer the more economical option of purchasing used vehicles rather than leasing or buying new cars.
The overarching goal of the EVs4ALL program is to leverage new battery innovations at the material, electrode, and cell design level to mitigate the primary EV adoption detractors to the greatest extent possible. Specific program objectives considered to be critical for accomplishing this mission include the following:
Achieve a charge rate that is equivalent to restoring 80% of cell nominal capacity [80% Δ state-of-charge (SOC)] in 5-15 minutes.
Reduce low temperature battery performance losses by at least 50%.
Retain a minimum of 90% capacity (relative to initial values) after the battery has delivered 200,000 miles of equivalent and cumulative range.
Identify a compelling pathway to a battery cost of < $75/kWh at credible commercial scale.
Implement both new and existing test protocols to verify safety of new battery chemistries and cell designs.
The EVs4ALL program structure acknowledges the existence of different market needs in terms of EV range. Consequently, the battery development focus is divided into two discrete development tracks (Categories 1 and 2) defined primarily by cell-level energy density, charge rate, low temperature performance losses and cycle life targets, and a third parallel and complementary track (Category 3) focused on safety. Specifically:
Category 1, which includes cells that can be charged safely at exceptionally high rates; and
Category 2, which includes higher energy cells that can be charged rapidly, yet at lower rates compared to Category 1.
Category 3 will explore the topic of safety in parallel and complementary to the battery cell development tracks (Categories 1 and 2), with the intent to de-risk those chemistries with commercial potential developed under this program by the early application of competent and intentional failure analysis, Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), and deployment of new testing protocols and techniques.
Example technologies specifically of interest, either as standalone solutions or in combination, include, but may not be limited to the following:
Cell chemistries that can be packaged in pouch, prismatic or cylindrical formats and that have a nominal (Open Circuit) voltage ranging from 2.0 V to 5.5 V
Anode materials based on alkali or alkaline earth metals [e.g., lithium (Li), sodium (Na), potassium (K), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca)]
Three-dimensional anode architectures
Coatings on separators, cathodes and/or anodes that usefully transform the interfaces between these individual elements [e.g., maintain area specific resistance (ASR), reduce loss of active material, etc.]
No/low cobalt and no/low nickel-content cathodes [e.g., sulfur-based, highly abundant/low-cost transition metal oxides, halides, sulfides, phosphates, and new organic/inorganic hosts]
Practical cell designs that mitigate/manage all determinant variables so that the target metrics can be achieved [e.g., pressure, temperature, surface, and materials transport variations, etc.]
Innovative cell/battery designs and materials that can achieve the key metrics [e.g., bipolar, shared cell/pack structures, high current distribution, advanced thermal management, etc.]
The EVs4ALL program is generally ambivalent towards electrolyte “type” [e.g., liquid, solid-state, polymer or hybrid (combinations of liquids and/or polymers and/or solid- state components)]. A level of safety that is equivalent (or superior) to SoA LiB is the overriding requirement.
New battery technologies that, if successful, can be manufactured using existing commercial processes, equipment, and infrastructures. These processes may come from battery or non-battery operations.
In addition to unveiling the EVs4ALL program, DOE recently announced $3.1 billion in funding to boost production of advanced batteries, which are critical to supporting the creation of new, retrofitted, and expanded commercial facilities and demonstrations that manufacture battery materials, cell components, and batteries, along with battery recycling. (Earlier post.)