Heavy batteries are the bane of many fuel-conscious drivers' existences -- the more weight you have in your vehicle, the more energy you'll need to move forward. That's why people tell you to unload any belongings from your car's trunk and back seat if you really want to save at the pump.
Recognizing this problem, many researchers have looked into making hybrid battery packs much lighter. A group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), for instance, has found a way to make lithium-ion batteries both lighter and faster. The original problem with lithium-ion batteries was their relatively slow release of energy. Scientists thought lithium atoms were moving too slowly through the battery material, but the MIT researchers think it might be the nano-scale size of the technology that's making it difficult for ions to travel.
A lithium phosphate coating helps speed ions along, making it easier for them to quickly reach the battery terminal. The new battery material also stops the packs from degrading as much, which means that manufacturers can keep the sizes of the batteries much smaller than before.
For lots more information on hybrid cars and battery technology, follow the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Anderman, Menahem. "Status and Prospects of Battery Technology for Hybrid Electric Vehicles, Including Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles." Advanced Automotive Batteries. Jan. 26, 2007. (April 13, 2009) http://www.advancedautobat.com/order/PDFs/Anderman-Senate-Energy-Jan-26-07.pdf
- Hamilton, Tyler. "A Cheaper Battery for Hybrid Cars." Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Jan. 24, 2008. (April 13, 2009)
- HybridCars.com. "Behind the Hidden Costs of Hybrids." Sept. 28, 2008. (April 13, 2009) http://www.hybridcars.com/economics/hidden-costs.html
- HybridCars.com. "The Hybrid Car Battery: A Definitive Guide." Nov. 6, 2008. (April 13, 2009) http://www.hybridcars.com/hybrid-car-battery
- Newsweek.com. "Assaulted Batteries." 2008. (April 13, 2009) http://www.newsweek.com/id/138808/page/2
- Treacy, Megan. "A Lighter, Faster-Charging Battery Could Be on Its Way." EcoGeek.com. March 12, 2009. (April 13, 2009) http://www.ecogeek.org/content/view/2621/
- Valdes-Dapena, Peter. "Hybrids: seven worries, seven answers." CNNMoney.com. March 1, 2007. (April 13, 2009) http://money.cnn.com/2006/09/27/autos/tipsandadvice/hybrid_worries/index.htm
- Wert, Ray. "2010 Toyota Prius: At 50 MPG, Officially Highest-mileage Retail Vehicle." Jalopnik.com. March 2, 2009. (April 13, 2009)
California probably will change the kinds of cars on the road in the United States. But it's going to take a while. Find out why at HowStuffWorks.