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New research promises to reduce size, cost of lithium-ion batteries

A breakthrough in lithium-ion tech could be a major boon for the electric vehicle.

A new breakthrough in battery research could lead to a significant reduction in the cost and size of lithium-ion batteries. Researchers say the new development could also help reduce charging times.

Two researchers at the University of California, San Diego - professor Miroslav Krstic and postdoctoral fellow Scott Moura - claim to have developed new algorithms that help determine what exactly happens in the "complicated world” of lithium ion batteries.

Despite the widespread use of lithium-ion batteries, it's not fully understood how lithium ions react within a contained environment. As a result, scientists often overcompensate when designing batteries, making them larger or more complicated than they actually need to be.

The new algorithms could reduce that waste and potentially lead to smaller batteries with a cost savings of about 25 percent.

"If one could have a better knowledge or better estimation of what's going on inside, one could [safely] operate closer to the limits of performance, which means that the oversizing and overdesign would be less necessary,” Krstic told Automotive News. "That translates into savings in costs and in weight.”

UC San Diego will test the algorithms over the next three years with supplier Bosch and battery maker Cobasys. The project is being funded via a $4 million grand from the Department of Energy.

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