Cracked Cathodes Could Speed Up Electric Vehicle Charging, Defying Conventional Wisdom

In a surprising revelation that challenges prevailing assumptions, researchers have uncovered a counterintuitive phenomenon in electric vehicle (EV) batteries – cracks in the cathodes may actually enhance charging speeds. This discovery challenges the approach of many EV manufacturers who aim to minimize cracks in batteries to extend their lifespan.

Yiyang Li, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Michigan and the corresponding author of the study published in the journal Energy and Environmental Sciences, explains, “Many companies are interested in making ‘million-mile’ batteries using particles that do not crack. Unfortunately, if the cracks are removed, the battery particles won’t be able to charge quickly without the extra surface area from those cracks.”

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Expanding EV Capabilities: General Motors Brings Vehicle-to-Home Power to More Models

Electric vehicles (EVs) are known for their battery cells that power the car’s motors, propelling it forward. However, with the right equipment, these battery systems can have an additional function beyond just powering the vehicle – they can also provide energy to homes during blackouts.

General Motors (GM) recently announced an expansion of its EV lineup’s capabilities in this regard. While initially limited to the Silverado EV RST pickup, GM has now revealed that other EVs in its portfolio, such as the Chevy Equinox, Chevy Blazer, and Cadillac Lyriq, will also be equipped to supply power to homes. This advancement is set to be integrated into GM’s retail lineup of Ultium-based electric vehicles by the model year 2026.

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Rocsys: The Autonomous Charging Revolution for EVs

As electric vehicles (EVs) gain traction in the mainstream market, the need for faster and more convenient charging solutions has become increasingly evident. While advancements in battery technology are promising, Dutch startup Rocsys believes that automation can significantly enhance the charging process. Rocsys has developed an AI-powered robotic arm that can convert any charger into an autonomous one, making charging easier and more efficient for both drivers and the upcoming generation of driverless vehicles.

The robotic arm, equipped with AI-powered computer vision technology, acts as a replacement for the human hand during the charging process. Once an EV pulls up, the robot’s “eyes” locate the vehicle, move the plug toward the socket, and initiate the charging process. This technology not only streamlines the charging experience for drivers but also caters to the future of driverless vehicles, eliminating the need for a human babysitter to handle the charging process.

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China Set to Surpass Japan as World’s Largest Car Exporter with Booming EV Shipments

China is on track to overtake Japan as the world’s largest car exporter in 2023, driven by a surge in electric vehicle (EV) shipments, according to research firm Canalys. The anticipated growth in Chinese EV exports is projected to reach 1.3 million in 2023, nearly double the 679,000 EVs exported in 2022, as reported by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). Overall vehicle exports from China are expected to reach 4.4 million in 2023, up from 3.1 million in 2022.

While Japan’s car exports were estimated at 3.8 million in 2022, official data suggests the figure is closer to 3.5 million, according to the South China Morning Post. Nevertheless, China’s booming EV exports, accounting for 30% of all exports, will propel the country to surpass Japan and secure the top spot this year, following its overtaking of Germany in 2022. Mainland Chinese automakers are targeting key markets in Southeast Asia, Europe, Africa, India, and Latin America, with a well-established automotive supply chain at home enhancing their global competitiveness.

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Whisper Aero Unveils Electric Propulsion for Noiseless Flying Taxis

As the world eagerly anticipates the arrival of flying taxis in cities, concerns regarding the potential noise they would generate are being raised by urban residents. However, Tennessee-based startup Whisper Aero has recently revealed its electric propulsion technology, offering a solution for noiseless aerial transportation in the future.

Drones and vertical take-off and landing vehicles (VTOLs) have the potential to alleviate road congestion and revolutionize urban travel. Nevertheless, the noise emissions associated with these systems have been a source of frustration. After years of efforts to relocate airports away from cities, we find ourselves on the cusp of a future where noise pollution from above may become a concern, potentially hindering the prospects of air taxis within city limits.

In 2021, Mark Moore and Ian Villa, former colleagues at Uber Elevate, co-founded Whisper Aero with the aim of spearheading a silent revolution in electric propulsion and transforming noiseless flight into a reality. After eight months of development, the startup successfully flew a drone powered by its noiseless technology and has now unveiled the groundbreaking technology behind it.

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Telo Unveils Game-Changing Mini Electric Pickup Truck

Telo, an innovative company, has unveiled its mini electric pickup truck, finally offering a refreshing alternative to the dominating presence of hulking electric trucks on the road. Combining the functionality of a Toyota Tacoma with the compact footprint of a Mini Cooper, Telo’s design presents the best of both worlds, surpassing the massive size of current and upcoming EV pickups such as the Ford F-150 Lightning, Tesla Cybertruck, and Rivian R1T. Despite its compact nature, the Telo truck delivers an impressive range and is equally at ease maneuvering into tight city parking spaces or venturing out on exciting weekend adventures.

In terms of interior space, the Telo truck matches the Toyota Tacoma, comfortably accommodating up to five passengers in its default configuration. The exterior features a 60-inch bed, mirroring the truck bed length of the Tacoma. However, the entire Telo truck measures a mere 152 inches in length, 73 inches in width, and 66 inches in height—similar to the dimensions of a Mini Cooper.

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SolarBotanic Trees: Metal Canopies with Solar “Leaves” to Power EV Charging

In a bid to enhance the charging infrastructure for electric vehicles (EVs) in the UK, SolarBotanic Trees, a British startup, has designed metal trees equipped with a seven-meter canopy of solar panels that generate electricity. These innovative structures feature nano photovoltaic “leaves” that capture solar energy and may store it in a battery placed within the tree trunk. The company has successfully completed a half-scale prototype and aims to build and test a full-size version before commencing commercial production by the end of the year.

While the UK has seen rapid growth in EV charging infrastructure, with over 40,000 public charging points installed by April 2023, according to ZapMap, the demand still outpaces supply. The Climate Change Committee estimates that by 2032, 325,000 charging points will be required to support the expanding electric fleet. To address this shortfall, SolarBotanic Trees aims to collaborate with EV infrastructure providers. The company has already received its first order of 200 trees from Raw Charging Group, a leading supplier of EV charging infrastructure, for incorporation into their charging sites across the UK and Europe.

Solar trees offer an aesthetically pleasing solution compared to conventional solar-powered carports. While solar carports consist of solar panels mounted on structures resembling bus shelters, SolarBotanic Trees provide an attractive alternative. These trees have been featured in notable developments like Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay and the Sustainability Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

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The Complex Challenge of Sourcing Rare Earth Metals for Electric Vehicles

The transition to electric vehicles (EVs) marks the future of the automobile industry, driven by a shift towards emissions-free transportation. However, one significant challenge in this EV revolution is sourcing the rare earth metals needed for the magnetic motors powering these vehicles. The financial and political implications of obtaining these metals pose a considerable obstacle.

Neodymium, for instance, when combined with elements like iron and boron, creates a magnetic field crucial for the efficient operation of EV motors. Tesla, a prominent player in the EV market, recently announced its intention to develop a motor that eliminates the use of rare earth metals. While earlier Tesla models employed AC induction motors that did not require these metals, the introduction of the Model 3 with its always-on magnetic motor changed the scenario. Despite reducing the need for rare earth metals by 25% since 2017, the Model Y still relies on approximately 520 grams of these materials.

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Portable Robotic EV Charger “Ziggy” to Meet Growing Demand at U.S. Airport

As the demand for electric vehicles (EVs) continues to soar, the need for advanced charging technology becomes paramount. To address this, Ziggy, the portable robotic EV charger previously covered by Interesting Engineering, is soon to be installed at a U.S. airport. The deployment aims to cater to the growing number of travelers who own EVs, providing them with convenient charging options while they fly.

The first-of-its-kind installation will take place at the Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport in Texas, where Ziggy, developed by EV Safe Charge, will undergo a series of EV charging demonstrations from May through August. This partnership between DFW and EV Safe Charge will evaluate cutting-edge approaches to EV charging.

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Intramotev Paves the Way for Electric Freight Trains with Battery-Electric Autonomous Rail Cars

While electric trains have become a common sight in commuter rail systems, the freight shipping industry has yet to embrace this eco-friendly technology. However, the tide is turning as Intramotev, a St. Louis-based company, aims to revolutionize the locomotive landscape with its fleet of battery-electric autonomous rail cars, eliminating the need for diesel fuel.

The Evolution of Diesel-Electric Trains:

Diesel-electric locomotives emerged in the 1920s as a more efficient alternative to steam-driven trains. They offered labor-saving capabilities and cost-cutting advantages. Unlike steam locomotives that required multiple crews, diesel-electric trains could be operated by a single locomotive coupled with others.

The Need for Further Improvement:

While diesel-electric trains represented an improvement over their steam-driven predecessors, there is still room for enhancement. A 2021 study published in Nature Energy highlights the current state of affairs, noting that diesel-electric drives in US locomotives emit 35 million tonnes of CO2 annually, leading to approximately 1,000 premature deaths and $6.5 billion in health damage costs.

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Harnessing Sunlight: Artificial Leaf Converts CO2 to Eco-Friendly Fuels

Electric vehicles are widely regarded as the future of zero-emissions transportation. However, researchers have now introduced a groundbreaking innovation—an “artificial leaf” that harnesses sunlight to convert water and carbon dioxide into low-emission fuels, such as ethanol and propanol. This revolutionary technology mimics the process of photosynthesis used by plants to generate energy. By submerging the leaf in CO2-infused water and exposing it to light, the reaction occurs, resulting in the creation of green fuels. This remarkable breakthrough has the potential to enable cars of the future to produce fuels on-the-go using surrounding sunlight, CO2, and water vapor from the air.

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DFW Airport to Test Innovative Robotic EV Charger for Mobile Charging Solutions

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) is set to test a cutting-edge robotic EV charger in an upcoming pilot program aimed at exploring innovative charging solutions. Developed by EV Charge Safe, the robot charger, named Ziggy, will autonomously navigate to vehicles in need of charging and return to a designated area for recharging itself. Notably, this mobile unit can also serve as an advertising platform, generating additional revenue.

DFW plans to showcase mobile robotic charging, along with other demonstrations focusing on apps and on-demand charging, in five public showcases at airport parking lots from May to August. However, specific timelines for implementing these technologies on a regular basis at the airport were not disclosed in the press release.

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