MIT Develops Safer Batteries for Electric Cars

September 25, 2002 by Jeff Shepard

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have developed an automotive variant of lithium-ion batteries used in cell phones as a cheaper, safer and more compact alternative to the nickel-metal hydride cells that power electric cars. The new versions are much bigger than those used in cell phones, but will share other traits that make the technology popular.

MIT researches have modified the composition of the material with metallic elements such as niobium or zirconium, dramatically improving the conductivity. It is also safer. MIT has patented the technology and has licensed it for commercial use. The new batteries could be on the market in a couple of years and could extend the limited range of electric vehicles. "What we expect this new material to enable is larger lithium-ion batteries of higher performance," stated MIT researcher Yet-Ming Chiang.