Mercedes-Benz evaluating organic batteries for road car use; production 'at least 15 years away' – report

Mercedes-Benz is researching organic batteries that are more environmentally friendly for use in future road cars, however the technology is at least 15 years away from production, reports Autocar.

Previewed on the Vision AVTR concept car shown earlier this year, the organic battery technology uses graphene-based organic cell chemistry with a water-based electrolyte. This does without the use of rare earth or toxic materials, says the report, making it recyclable through composting.

Early testing shows that the batteries offer both high energy density and the ability to be recharged quickly, said Autocar. “It’s a very promising technology. I’ve already seen it working in laboratories, where the results look really good, but we don’t see that it’s close to being used in production technology for now; it’s around 15 to 20 years away,” said Mercedes-Benz senior manager of battery research Andreas Hintennach.

Current electric and electrified vehicles use lithium-ion battery technology, the efficiency of which Mercedes-Benz is still working to improve. The range of vehicles equipped with lithium-ion batteries still can be increased by up to 25%, estimates Hintennach, while evaulating ‘a number of future technologies’ which the firm aims to introduce within the next five to 15 years.

Production EVs such as the Mercedes-Benz EQC employ lithium-ion batteries

Among these future technologies is solid-state batteries, though Hintennach cautioned that it is ‘not a magic solution’, even though solid-state battery technology ‘opens a lot of doors and windows’. “Solid state (battery technology) adds lots of positive aspects. It’s not a miracle but (it) would be a huge step forward,” he said.

A major issue with solid-state batteries is long charging times required, making them unsuitable for road car use, said Hintennach. That said, Mercedes-Benz is aiming to be the first to put the technology into series production with the eCitaro bus in the second half of this decade, he noted.

Other technologies being researched in this area include lithium-metal anodes, lithium-sulphur batteries and lithium-oxygen batteries, said Hintennach. All these offer different benefits and drawbacks in terms of efficiency, energy density and weight, he said. Each different battery type will likely have applications in different types of vehicles, for example lithium-sulphur batteries potentially allowing the creation of smaller battery packs compared to using lithium-ion, which is heavier.

Is there a risk in pursuing multiple technologies at the same time? “It is challenging, but you need novel ideas . We need to be very focused on the future,” Hintennach said. “You do risk inefficiency by looking at multiple options, and not all will make it to market, but if you didn’t take risks in R&D by backing multiple horses, then you could end up losing. We’re also keeping the pipeline open for the future,” he noted.

GALLERY: Mercedes-Benz Vision AVTR concept

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