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Researchers make an important breakthrough in lithium-ion electric car battery degradation

Uncertainty about the future is something that plagues the electric car market. Sometimes it’s a question of whether the promises of improved charging infrastructure will ever come true, and sometimes it’s a question of whether improved ranges and quicker charging will ever be closer than five to 10 years away. But sometimes it’s a simpler consumer-related question, like what happens in 10 years when the battery won’t hold a charge anymore? Well, this last question might soon be crossed off of the list. As Green Car Reports tells us, researchers at Ohio State University have cracked an important mystery about how batteries break down.

Lithium-ion batteries are built with a copper sheet that improves the efficiency with which electrons are transferred between electrodes. This is known as a “current collector”, and it was discovered that lithium will, over time, migrate from the electrodes to this current collector. The researchers were studying battery degradation, but the discovery of lithium in the current collector caught them by surprise. It’s not entirely clear yet what impact this could have on the life of electric car batteries, but with the source of battery degradation identified, research can now focus on ways to prevent it.

As good as this news is, even if a fix is found right away, the effects won’t be noticed for many years. It’s possible that this isn’t the only or even the biggest source of degradation. It’s also possible that another type of battery will replace lithium-ion in the near future. So there is still a certain amount of uncertainty about the future, but if a solution can be found soon, it should still do a lot of good for electric car sales.