Battery Breakthroughs and Issues


In a breakthrough discovery, German scientists have developed a new fluid that can assist in cooling the large and expensive batteries of electric cars. The benefit the discovery provides is the extension of their service life and one more step in the improvement of the cost efficiency of electric vehicle transport.

The fluid has been named as CryoSolplus and has the capability of greater heat absorption compared to air or water. This would allow for tighter packing of batteries according to the research team of Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology located at Oberhausen, Germany. 

The battery pack would generate nearly 45 degrees Celsius of heat on a regular day. Its best working ambient temperature is between 20 and 35 degrees and under those conditions, the battery would only be able survive half of its actual service life. With the cost of the battery pack nearly half the total price of the vehicle, finding ways to extend its service life has become imperative for many research and development teams.

Current technologies only use air to cool battery arrays or there are no cooling systems at all. Air is not a very efficient heat absorber and requires space in order to travel in between heat generating battery arrays. Water on the other hand, is a heat conductor but requires a storage tank to be effective.

CryoSolplus consists of water, paraffin, anti-freeze and a stabilization agent, according to the research team. It has three times as much ability to absorb heat compared to water, thus requiring a smaller storage tank, creating more space and weight savings for the electric car manufacturer. The research team says that the solution and the cooling system would cost just a little over 100 euros in the manufacturing process. When heat is absorbed, the solid paraffin droplets melt and store the heat. When the solution cools, the paraffin droplets solidify.

This technology may be too late for Fisker Automobiles Karma, as it issued its second recall when two mysterious fires again hit the government subsidized electric vehicle. According to Fisker spokesperson Roger Ormisher, “Fisker engineers and an independent fire expert had identified the root cause of a fire that engulfed a Karma parked outside a Woodside, California grocery store last August 10.” He added, “The investigation located the ignition source to the left front of the Karma, forward of the wheel, where the low-temperature cooling fan is located. The final conclusion was that this sealed component had an internal fault that caused to fail, overheat and start a slow burning fire.”

Fisker has since announced a voluntary recall “with respect to this cooling fan unit” and stated it has already coordinated with its retailer. Unfortunately, the cooling system development may have come too late for Fisker.