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Electric Vehicle Material Advance


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Although the number of electric vehicles (EVs) predicted for deployment in the next several years is a number that could probably be parked without too much trouble at a major sporting arena, the amount of technology that is being developed to up that number is something that may knock the EV skeptics back a few paces.

While there are ongoing developments for internal combustion engines, these tend to be more of an evolution rather than something of a significant change (e.g., improving turbochargers, direct-injection, start-stop systems. . . ).

A difference between that and the EV tech developments becomes apparent when you consider last week’s announcement from Teijin Techno Products out of Tokyo (last December, GM and Teijin announced they’re working on developing advanced composite materials for auto use) that it has developed the “world’s first mass-producible aramid nanofiber” that has the characteristics—such as heat- and oxidation-resistance—that make it useful for separators in lithium-ion batteries.

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Electron microscope view of nanofiber

Among the cited benefits for battery use are:

*High porosity for the electrolyte, which can result in faster charging and higher output

*A large surface area so there is the ability to help battery performance even at low temperatures

*Rapid electrolyte absorption compared with polyolefin-based separators, which means that battery production can be performed more quickly

The material is targeted for commercial production in 2014.

Clearly: There is a whole lot of upside to the R&D that’s underway not only at Teijin but at numerous other companies and research organizations in terms of batteries, motors and the like, so the number of EVs may exceed expectations sooner rather than later. (Speaking in car program years, that is.)

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