Range anxiety, the fear that such vehicles will leave the vehicle’s occupants stranded well short of their destination, remains one of, if not the main barrier to the widespread adoption of EVs. A new material developed by Japanese company Sumitomo Electric could help allay such fears by potentially improving the capacity of lithium-ion batteries by 1.5 to three times, and therefore extending the range of EVs by 150 to 300 percent. That would give a Nissan LEAF a range of up to 109 to 219 miles (175 to 352 km) or a Tesla Roadster a range of up to 366 to 732 miles (589 to 1,178 km) – enough to assuage the range anxiety of the most fretful drivers.
The material in question is called Aluminum-Celmet that features an Aero bar-like, three-dimensional mesh-like structure that forms interconnected, open and spherical pores. Sumitomo Electric had previously been producing its proprietary Celmet material made from nickel or nickel chrome alloy. Its high porosity of up to 98 percent and favorable filling, retaining and current-collecting performance when used with an active material, led to Celmet recently being adopted as a positive electrode current collector in hybrid vehicle nickel-hydrogen batteries. It is also easy to process the porous metal into various shapes by cutting and stamping.