Electronic Technological Mobility: Storage Problems Loom

Charged instead of refueling – e-navigation is gaining speed. However, there is also a limiting factor: the basic battery technology still leaves something to be desired. But something is going on! In its January issue, Bild der Weissenschaft reported on progress and challenges in the areas of loading times, capacities, raw material requirements and recycling.

More and more cars buzz quietly and emission-free on our streets: e-mobility is fashionable because it is becoming more and more attractive: the shift from internal combustion to electric motors makes sense in terms of the environment and the climate, the practical applicability of the technology has become apparent in recent years increasing. There has also been significant progress in terms of range and charging time. However, battery technology remains the biggest challenge for scientists and engineers in the field of electronic mobility: there is a need to develop increasingly robust and secure energy storage systems.

In the first article for the three-part title topic “Batteries for the Electronic World,” bdw technology editor Ralph Bucher focuses on the development of so-called solid-state batteries. Unlike current lithium-ion batteries, these storage systems do not contain any liquid, but only solids. Thus, it cannot leak or burn, thus increasing the level of safety in electrical engineering. In addition, it is hoped that performance will rise, which is why car manufacturers are investing a lot of money in developing solid-state batteries. Butcher examines how well systems can do what they promise. According to this, there is already potential, but some problems with material and manufacturing technology remain unresolved.

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About performance, requirements for raw materials and recycling

Jan Berndorf, author of bdw, then focuses on the problem of the massive demand for raw materials for the electric mobility boom. It primarily concerns lithium. Up to ten kilograms of this alkali metal can be found in an electric car battery. So far it has only been promoted in a few regions of the world – often with environmental damage. In addition, lithium must be transported to us over long distances. According to the Berndorf report, some of the desired metal could come from local sources in the future: mines in the ore mountains and the Alps offer the opportunity to extract lithium-containing minerals. Another concept is based on geothermal energy: along with geothermal energy, lithium can be obtained from deep waters. However, it became clear that the massive demand would probably not be met by domestic deposits alone.

However, recycling technology can also contribute to the supply of lithium, as evidenced by the article “Old Treasure Chest Battery”. As mentioned by bdw author Klaus Sieg, in addition to the alkali metal, other valuable substances can also be recovered from old batteries. However, the procedures involved are more complicated than you might think. But solutions are in the works: the process being jointly developed by the Technical University of Braunschweig is particularly promising, reports Sieg.

You can find out more in the January issue of bild der Wissenschaft, which will be available in stores from December 21.

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