Why don’t we have an electric car with quantum batteries yet? Due to technological problems! Indeed, the phenomenon of decoherence, which should be mastered, relegates its use for electric cars to a very hypothetical future. And on the other hand, the main systems currently considered store optical and non-electrical energy. On the other hand, ways are being explored for safer, more autonomous and more durable conventional storage, such as fully solid or semiconductor batteries, which take advantage of quantum modeling of materials.
But the weather is urgent! If the real ORSEC plan is struggling to get out of the boxes, however, some measures are emerging. What do we do, for example, to combat the 12% of greenhouse gases emitted by cars? Europe has opted for the electric car with 100% of the heat eradicated in 2035. France, which has long been “sponsoring” diesel engines, seems to be taking a small step alongside its hybrid strategy. The fact is that car manufacturers and R&D, both private and public, are on deck.
The Holy Grail? Make electric vehicles as efficient as thermal vehicles. To get there, the battery race is in full swing. The megajackpot will go to the one who gives the most autonomy and the shortest loading time. From the first car marketed in the world by Nissan with the Leaf, the charging time has gone from 24 hours to 12 and then to 6 hours. The goal of the moon would be to reach “the hour of a full moon.” Focus on the challenges of energy storage and battery lockouts.
The history of the electric car
The first electric vehicle was … a horse-drawn carriage! This prototype was designed by a Scottish businessman in 1830. With the invention of the rechargeable battery, New York saw its streets crossed in 1922 by electric taxis. But cheap gasoline and the advent of Ford’s thermal models relegated it to the background for nearly 40 years.
In 1973 it took no more and no less than an oil shock to get it out of oblivion. It recovers its “scratches” as an ecological awareness develops. In 1997, General Motors launched the EV1. Other manufacturers are following suit, but projects are being abandoned due to a lack of buyers. Because ? The main flaw of its armor is its low range and cost. We will have to wait until 2008 for the launch of Nissan’s 100% electric Leaf and Tesla’s increasingly innovative models. Since 2010, the race has been (re) launched and the market is, this time, at the event!
(source: BEQ Technology.com)
Electric car with quantum battery: on paper, it works
The last few years have marked the rise in the development of the quantum computer, and with it the promise of a multiplication of computing power. So why not quantum technology that would increase battery charging speed? A Korean team has just modeled the charge of a quantum battery compared to a classic battery. Their results, published in the journal Physical review letters in April 2022, show that the speed would be 200 times faster.
“To obtain this quantum advantage, the scientists looked at whether the n cells that make up a battery should dialogue in pairs or whether each should dialogue with all the others at once, in global operation. Their equations validated the second hypothesis. While with n cells, the charging speed of a classical battery would be proportional to, for the quantum battery would vary in n2. This research is very interesting, but for now, the quantum charge of electric cars reduced to the time of a tank full of gasoline is still pure science fiction. And for good reason, applications face a major technological hurdle, which is to maintain quantum consistency during loading and unloading. “, Explains Brigitte Leridon, a CNRS researcher in the physics and materials studies laboratory at ESPCI Paris.
Conventional batteries are made up of chemical cells, the equivalent of our batteries, mounted and connected to the electrical circuit in parallel. Therefore, the loading speed is directly proportional to the number of cells. By linking all the cells in the quantum battery, the charge rate is proportional to n2.
A big problem: maintaining quantum coherence
Are you intrigued, sorry, intrigued? Welcome to the “magical” and completely counterintuitive world of quantum physics! Imagine a quantum version emoticon: it would be smiling, grimacing, sticking out your tongue, winking, vomiting, or crying all at once. It would no longer be a simple image, but an animated GIF of all these superimposed states. And without a bioionic eye, you would only see a yellow circle in the background.
Physicists talk about the intertwining of states when you’re in a video in front of a wall of connected .gif emoticons. According to Brigitte Leridon: “The whole difficulty of computers and batteries is to maintain the coherence of quantum systems. For this to work, all quantum objects (here the battery cells) must remain in the same intertwined quantum state. They have to collaborate, in a way. However, when a quantum system interacts with the external environment, during a charge or discharge (in the case of the battery) we have a risk of inconsistency, which would cause the quantum advantage to be lost. All current research focuses on these aspects. “
Towards quantum superabsorption
Apart from these theoretical models, an Australian publication reports on experimental progress. Researchers at the University of Adelaide have made a quantum nanobattery. In the microcavities, the latter placed dye molecules, organic semiconductors, which excited with a laser. They found that these molecules absorb more energy per molecule and “charge” faster when they were in the same quantum state (the same microcavity).
“But once again, we are still a long way from an application for electric car batteries. In this lab experiment, the researchers stored light energy, not electricity. Imagine, all gas stations should be equipped with lasers and we should invent a light power engine! I think it is more likely, given the 2035 deadline, to opt for the development of more conventional systems. R&D is focusing especially on innovative and safe electrical energy storage systems, such as solid state batteries, while using quantum modeling of these materials, ”concludes the physicist.
Overview of the batteries in the race
Drums lithium ion
- It is widely used for electric cars.
- Sound +: the best performance in autonomy, long life, higher energy density than other technologies
- Sound -: explosion problems, lithium is rare, expensive, sometimes extracted in China by children and toxic. Nickel and cobalt are also expensive and toxic.
- Ongoing research: optimization of energy density, intercalation electrode change
The sodium ion battery
- Point +: Sodium is abundant (in the sea)
- Point -: lower energy density, does not support repeated charges
- In the development stage.
The solid battery
- The liquid electrolyte is replaced by a solid inorganic compound that allows the diffusion of lithium ions.
- Its +: better security, denser and lighter, longer life
- Sound: Researchers are working on technological barriers at interfaces. It is only in the laboratory prototype stage.
solid state batteries
- Anode is a metal like lithium.
- Its +: safer, 2 times more autonomy than lithium ions, reduced size and weight
- Sound: use of rare and expensive metals, insufficient for the production of electric cars
- The technology is almost ready, but production requires different machines and techniques that delay its arrival on the market (after 2025). Also, there is not enough raw lithium in the world.