Hydrogen fuel cell electric truck startup Nikola Corp. is touting a high-storage battery that could increase the current range of electric passenger cars from 300 to 600 miles with no increase in battery size.
”This is the biggest advancement we have seen in the battery world,” said Trevor Milton, Nikola Motor Co. CEO. ”We are not talking about small improvements; we are talking about doubling your cellphone battery capacity. We are talking about doubling the range of BEVs and hydrogen-electric vehicles around the world.”
Among the benefits, Nikola’s battery-electric trucks could drive 800 miles fully loaded between charges and weigh 5,000 pounds less than competitors’ if the same battery size was kept. Its hydrogen-electric fuel cell trucks could surpass 1,000 miles between stops and top off in 15 minutes.
Nikola said because of the potential societal impact and reduced emissions, it will share the intellectual property (IP) with other manufacturers and competitors that contribute to Nikola’s IP license and a new consortium.
The new battery would have a record energy density of 1,100 watt-hours per kilogram on the material level and 500 watt-hours per kilogram on the production cell level, more than double current lithium-ion battery cells. It would reduce weight 40% compared to lithium-ion cells and cut 50% of the material cost per kilowatt-hour (kWh) compared to lithium-ion batteries.
The Nikola prototype removes binder material and current collectors, which allows for more energy storage within the cell.
It is also expected to pass nail penetration standards, thus reducing potential vehicle fires, the company said in a release Nov. 19. The technology is designed to operate in existing vehicle conditions. Cycling the cells over 2,000 times has shown acceptable end-of-life performance.
Without providing details, Nikola said its new cell technology is environmentally friendly and easy to recycle, positively impacting Earth’s resources, landfills and recycling plants compared to conventional lithium-ion cells that contain toxic elements.
Nikola entered into a letter of intent earlier in November to acquire a world-class battery engineering team to help bring the new battery to preproduction. Nikola will add 15 PhD and five master’s degree team members.
Additional details of the acquisition will be disclosed at Nikola World 2020, where the company will show the batteries charging and discharging. The event is expected to be held next fall.
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