Self-heating lithium-ion battery aims to conquer winter range anxiety

Self heating battery

One of the drawbacks of lithium-ion batteries is that they tend to suffer power loss in cold weather. At temperatures below freezing, charging is slower, regenerative braking is restricted and vehicle range can be reduced.

Now researchers from Penn State and spin-off company EC Power have developed a battery that avoids these problems by self-heating if the temperature drops below 32 degrees F.

In “Lithium-ion battery structure that self-heats at low temperatures,” published in the journal Nature, Chao-Yang Wang and colleagues describe an all-climate battery” (ACB) cell that can heat itself from -22 to 32 degrees F in 30 seconds, with no need for external heating devices or electrolyte additives.

“It is a long-standing problem that batteries do not perform well at subzero temperatures,” said lead author Chao-Yang Wang. “This may not be an issue for phones and laptops, but is a huge barrier for electric vehicles, drones, outdoor robots and space applications.”

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The all-climate battery is designed to weigh only 1.5% more and cost only 0.04% than an ordinary battery, and to consume less than 5.5 percent of the cell’s energy capacity.

The ACB uses a 50-micrometer-thick nickel foil with one end attached to the negative terminal and the other extending outside the cell to create a third terminal. A temperature sensor attached to a switch causes electrons to flow through the nickel foil to complete the circuit, rapidly heating up the nickel foil and warming the inside of the battery. Once the battery reaches 32 degrees F, the switch turns off and current flows in the normal manner.

“Next we would like to broaden the work to a new paradigm called SmartBattery,” said Wang. “We think we can use similar structures or principles to actively regulate the battery’s safety, performance and life.”

SEE ALSO: EC Power’s AutoLion claims unique technology, reliable results and extraordinary savings in development time and cost


Source: Penn State via Green Car Congress
Image: Chao-Yang Wang / Penn State

  • Russell Barton

    Tesla’s website says their battery is 990 lbs ( 450 kg) and has 56 kw/hr of stored energy.
    If we let the specific heat of a Li cell be 0.75 J/gram/deg K, warming up a Tesla battery from -22F will use 2.8 kw/hr. If we are doing short drives in the winter, this could cost us a lot of range.

  • Edward

    This is good. Sounds very cheap.
    You just take nichrome heater wire and set it to positive and negative end of battery and put small t-stat BW style for control, near the nichrome wire heater. Do a double t-stat since they are under $1 and you get that extra safety.
    All for under $5 per cell. Good idea. Wrap in teflon pouch if you want it fire proof. All would be about 6 mil thick.

  • reodor felgen

    They should use the regenerative braking Power to heat the battery. When driving an electrical vheicle I miss the regenerative brake instantly when starting to drive. So instead of waisting all this energy to the brake pads. This energy should be used to heat until the battery are able to receive the regenerative charge. This way you improve efficinecy of the system in Cold weather.
    By the way Heating a battery up in 30 Seconds sounds as a better idea in a small battery. Doing this With a 990 lbs ( 450 kg) sounds as a Dangerous Project.