Thursday, December 9, 2010

Improving Battery Technology Key to Greener Cars

According to the US energy chief, Steven Chu, we need to see improvements in the car battery to facilitate the widespread adoption of electric cars. The US and Asia are racing to meet this growing need. A battery race has developed between US companies like Massachusetts-based A123 and China's BYD.

Cars that run on batteries will begin to be competitive with ones that burn petroleum fuels in about five years, the US energy secretary said at COP16, the UN climate talks in Cancun Mexico.

"It's not like it's 10 years off," Chu said at a press conference, "It's about five years and it could be sooner. Meanwhile the batteries we do have today are soon going to get better by a factor of two."

The Department of Energy (DOE), is supporting several approaches seeking to improve car batteries. The DOE's Advanced Research Projects Agency, is making investments in batteries and other technologies considered too risky for the private sector but that have big potential.

In order to make electric cars comparable to gas powered cars, Chu wants to see car batteries that last 15 years, with a five to seven times improvement in energy storage capacity and cost reductions of about a factor of three.

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