The battery is 100-percent recyclable, but is still almost two decades away from becoming mainstream

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has wondered that the EVs may be environment-friendly, but are lithium-ion batteries contributing positively to the same cause? Although these batteries are recyclable, lithium is a highly reactive element and can have adverse effects on the environment and our health if not discarded properly.

But it looks like Mercedes-Benz has come up with a solution to work around this. The German automaker is working on building organic batteries and that could be a perfect alternative to lithium-ion batteries. However, the automaker says that the technology is still 15-20 years away from becoming mainstream.

What Is Organic Battery Technology?

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At the CES 2020 held earlier this year, Mercedes-Benz showed an electric concept called the Vision Avtr. Although the concept in itself showcased futuristic design and features, there was one thing that caught everyone’s attention – the organic batteries.

Mercedes revealed a 110-kWh battery with graphene-based organic-cell chemistry with a water-based electrolyte that is free of any toxic materials or metals.

It doesn’t make use of any rare and expensive minerals, thus saving the fossil resources. The battery’s materials are compostable and completely recyclable. When the company revealed the Avtr, it said that the battery has a high-energy density and an extraordinary fast-charging capability. The battery can be fully replenished in less than 15 minutes.

When Can We Expect It To Feature In Mass-Production Vehicles?

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The technology, however, is at least 15 years away. Mercedes-Benz’s Senior Manager of Battery Research Andreas Hintennach, said that “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 15-20 years away.”

This hasn’t stopped Mercedes from working towards improving the efficiency of lithium-ion batteries. Hintennach said that the range of these batteries can be boosted by up to 25-percent.

Given that battery tech is still an area that involves a lot of Research and Development costs and a lot of risks, he further added: “It is challenging, but you need novel ideas. We need to be very focused on the future. 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."

Is Any Other Automaker Working On Battery Technology?

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While Mercedes is working towards new technologies and boosting range, Tesla is working towards the longevity of these batteries. Tesla currently sources batteries for its cars from Panasonic, but is working on developing its own battery cells and we could see them put to use in the near future. Musk has mentioned on a previous occasion that the present battery modules last between 300,000 and 500,000 miles.

However, the new Tesla battery pack, that’s still in development, could do the unexpected - last for almost a million miles. Jeff Dahn, the battery researcher for Tesla, said that the new battery is a lithium-ion battery cell with a next-generation “single crystal” NMC cathode and a new advanced electrolyte. After testing these cells extensively, they think that the battery could power an electric car “for over 1.6 million kilometers [1 million miles].”

Final Thoughts

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Mercedes has already said there is a long time before this technology becomes mainstream, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see such innovation until then. There is no doubt that electric vehicles are the future, so every automaker and battery manufacturer will look to come with something new that could make EVs a better proposition than they are perceived today.

What are your thoughts on the German automaker’s organic battery technology? Share them with us in the comments section below.

Source: Autocar

Sidd Dhimaan
Associate Editor and Truck Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. He is currently our pickup truck expert and focuses his attention on heavy-duty and off-road vehicles.  Read More
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