University of Michigan Finds Ways to Maximize Lithium-Ion Battery Life

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【Summary】Looking to get the most out of your electric vehicle’s battery pack? Researchers at the University of Michigan conducted a study that ended up with a list of best practices to preserve a lithium-ion battery as long as possible.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Mar 01, 2020 6:00 AM PT
University of Michigan Finds Ways to Maximize Lithium-Ion Battery Life

Electric cars have more range than ever before, but that doesn't mean automakers can rest on their laurels. There are still quite a few problems with electric vehicles, which include things like charge times, a lack of available chargers, and battery degradation. Unlike internal combustion engines, battery degradation greatly affects EVs and can drastically change an EV's range or the way it charges. 

For electric car owners, keeping battery degradation at bay can seem like a difficult task. Researchers at the University of Michigan are here to help.

Guidelines To Care For A Lithium-Ion Battery

The university recently came out with a report that provides a few ways for consumers to get the most out of their EV's lithium-ion battery. As the university outlines, it has "plowed through scores of academic papers and manufactures' user manuals, as well as information on customer-support websites, to develop a line of nine best practices for lithium-ion battery lifetime extension."

The majority of practices revolve around three main variables that drastically affect the health of an electric car's battery. Those three items include: current, state of charge, and temperature. Focus your attention on these three things, and there's a good chance that your car's battery will last a long time.

Diving deeper into the University of Michigan's recommendations reveals nine key things for consumers to follow, which are broken down into four categories – three of which are the aforementioned ones.

When it comes to temperature, researchers found that minimizing exposure to high and lower temperature extremes greatly helped the battery's lifespan. Parking cars in the shade, keeping the car plugged in during high temperatures, and plugging the car in during cold temperatures are all things that are recommended.

How To Keep EV Batteries In Check

In the state of charge category, the university recommends that drivers pay attention to how much energy is stored in the battery. Researchers claim that batteries should not be kept at 100 percent or zero percent for a long time. Instead, try keeping the vehicle at 80 percent as much as you can. If that's not possible, unplug the vehicle as soon as possible once it hits 100 percent. If you plan on leaving your electric car parked for 14 days, ensure the car has more than 20 percent of its charge left.

Current is the third area owners need to keep an eye on and it involves charging. Unless you really need to, avoid using fast charging stations as much as possible. The university found that fast chargers degrade lithium-ion battery packs more quickly than standard chargers. When possible, avoid discharging the device at a rapid pace when necessary. For the automotive world, that means not completing too many straight-line launches.

Lastly, there's the "other category." That includes avoiding high moisture environments, avoiding mechanical damage, and following a manufacturer's calibration instructions. These things aren't necessarily relatable to an electric car, but helpful nonetheless.

"By minimizing exposure to the conditions that accelerate degradation, batteries can last longer. And this has a positive environmental impact, as battery production is a source of greenhouse gas emissions and many other pollutants," said study senior author Greg Keoleian.

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