Ohio State receives almost $4 million grant to improve electric vehicle batteries

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The 2024 GMC Hummer EV SUV, a centerpiece of GM’s electric vehicle future. Courtesy of GMC via TNS

Ohio State received an over $3.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Electric Vehicles for American Low-Carbon Living program to improve electric vehicles batteries.

Despite many Americans advocating for heightened care regarding climate change, less than 1 percent of the 250 million cars on the road in the U.S. are electric, according to Reuters. This grant aligns with Biden’s goals to reduce carbon emissions and increase electric vehicle sales in the U.S., according to a Department of Energy release .

Electric vehicles do not require gasoline and instead hold a substantial battery that stores electrical energy. The total lack of pollutants emitted in the air makes these automobiles immensely beneficial for the environment .

Marcello Canova, professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Ohio State, said in an email the current battery presents two central issues in charging quickly and colder weather.

“These limitations are caused by the materials used in the batteries (anode and electrolyte), which are not physically able to operate at high current densities without suffering major damage,” Canova said.

According to an Ohio State News release , the DOE’s program is working to develop “batteries that last longer, charge faster, perform efficiently in freezing temperatures and have better overall range retention.”

Canova said the project will construct a material for the battery to showcase an advanced capacity to hold lithium at high densities. This work will help the program reach its goals.

Canova said improving EV batteries requires communication between scientists in different fields to improve features, such as charging time and sensitivity to cold temperatures.

“This is a monumental challenge, but Ohio State has a very strong team of faculty from different fields of chemistry, science, and engineering, with years of experience in lithium ion batteries, as well as partner organizations from key industries that have the facility and tools to manufacture batteries incorporating our novel technology,” Canova said.

According to a release from the American Rescue Plan, the university has collaborations in place to assist their research —-  with Honda, the Center for Automotive Research and the Institute for Materials Research.

Anne Co, professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the primary investigator of the project, said in the Ohio State press release she firmly believes in the importance of teamwork in advancing scientific research.

“Collaboration is essential for the creation of innovative technology,” Co said. “It is as exciting as it is rewarding to work alongside colleagues and industry partners who are working together to find effective and affordable solutions that will advance science and preserve our environment.”

Melissa Gilliam, executive vice president and provost, said in the Ohio State release the grant is an “exciting investment.”

“The U.S. Department of Energy’s grant is an exciting investment in the future of clean energy and a testament to the dedicated Ohio State researchers who are working at the forefront of more affordable, sustainable and accessible transportation,” Gilliam said. “I am delighted to see those efforts recognized with this funding that will accelerate electric vehicle adoption.”

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