Fully Charged Looks At The Future Of Batteries – Video

OCT 22 2015 BY JAY COLE 56

Talking Batteries With Fully Charged

Talking Batteries With Fully Charged

Robert Llewellyn and his web-show Fully Charged make a trip to the University of Oxford (Dept. of Materials) to find out a little more on the future of battery storage from someone who might actually know what he is talking about – Professor Peter Bruce.

The professor starts off with a basic information session about batteries and battery systems, then launches into a fairly engage conversation on the development of the tech, the state of today’s lithium battery…and what comes next.

Hat tip to offib!


Categories: Battery Tech, Videos


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56 Comments on "Fully Charged Looks At The Future Of Batteries – Video"

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Yeah the Tesla fanboys that tend to comment here won’t like hearing a battery scientist tout plug-in hybrids as the best solution available today to reduce CO2 output. He’s absolutely right.

PHEV’s like the Volt are the best bet going today for mainstream electrification in personal vehicles. The biggest mistake that EV-fanatics have made is trash talking and continuing to thumb their nose at GM and touting Tesla as the only future good enough. Tesla is a huge gamble and their success at selling 100k luxury sedans is not in any way a guarantee of success at the 35k point.

For electrification to go more mainstream, we need the Volt power-train installed in a 20k application, perhaps with only 30 miles of range or something.

These new tiny turbo 3 and 4 cylinder engines are perfect compliments to PHEV’s and the stars are aligning. But we need the fanboy’s to get real and start supporting the only real economically viable solution.

> “new tiny turbo 3 and 4 cylinder engines”

I think simpler “non-turbo” engines are the way to go, and cheaper to produce, similar to the engines used in the Prius, Volt, and range extended i3 model.

I know turbo engines get alot of positive news these days for amount of HP for their size, but their long term reliability is questionable compared to a non-turbo engine.

You don’t need massive HP to recharge batteries, and if you have PHEV that is electrical engine driven only, with the gas engine used to only charge the batteries, you have a system, where the gas engine will not ever be under any undue stress, and that engine can run at an optimum RPM, which also benefits pollution control.

First the Prof. said PHEVs may be a good interim solution so PHEVs, but I hate to break it to you PHEVs are going by the wayside in a few years b/c inexpensive 200mi+EVs will be in production. The % of people that have to have an auto ready to do 300mi-plus miles on any given notice is small and irrelevant.

But people don’t behave logically, I think PHEVs are an important “gateway drug” to BEVs. Most people won’t give up the short refueling times and wide spread infrastructure of fossil fuels all at once.

Agree 100%. When I talk to people about my Volt and my Leaf and how they work, most people are totally surprised to realize it is possible to have a car that can be an electric car and fall back on gas. That makes a lot of people stop and think. And even if that person really could get by with 80 miles of range every day, most people just aren’t willing to do the math and get past all of the million “what-ifs” that crop up. Having a small engine onboard is definitely the answer for today. As BMW has shown with the i3, it is cheaper and lighter to add a small engine than it is to do a huge battery. And right now that small engine is more versatile than a huge battery and a skeleton charging infrastructure.

The BMW i3 is a pretty good BEV, with a range as good as the Leaf 1.0.

The BMW i3 REx is a lousy PHEV, with an almost laughably inadequate scooter engine to power the generator! Yes, that’s right; it’s a gas engine that’s designed for a scooter, not a car.

If there is any car which actually deserves the designation “Extended Range EV” (EREV), it’s the BMW i2 REx.

Contrariwise, the Volt is the only PHEV with sufficient range to make it a real contender with BEVs, when it comes to replacing gas-powered miles with electricity-powered miles.

True, the Volt is the real deal.
The I3 – you would not want to go long distances in it along with it’s tiny gas tank and gas range.

The Volt does both Electric and Gas extremely well by comparison in a bigger car vs the I3.

“PHEV’s like the Volt are the best bet going today for mainstream electrification in personal vehicles.”

Some build for today, others plan for tomorrow.

So you are playing Audi?

That would be like saying “Sorry, that you want today a car, we can only make BEV for your purposes (300 miles, 25k$) in 2025. Just be a little patient.”

I didn’t say that everyone has to buy the same. The OP sounded like making BEVs doesn’t make sense at all.

Volt fanbois need to come to grips with the fact that ~240 mile Model 3 is coming in three years and the parade of affordable 200 mile BEVs starts within 2 years.

I could also send a newsflash to Professor Bruce @OxfordU

200 mi affordable BEV is great, but I still need a cross-country car for 500 mile trips to the coast, and 3000 mile cross-country trips to see friends and relatives. I really don’t see why there is this PHEV vs. BEV debate. Both have value – each addresses a different set of needs & wants.

Dude, it’s Tesla. Supercharger makes such trips possible. Think about it. Mull it over. You’re already stopping for lunch breaks on the way. Any time spent charging on break is time well spent, because it’s time you would have been at a standstill anyway.

In my experience that hasn’t been the case. When I’m driving my focus is on my destination: arriving at the campground before dark; making it to the beach house before dinner; getting home before bedtime. When I have to stop for gas I’m back on the road within five minutes. If I get hungry I eat snacks I brought with me in the car.

The debate is really a fight over the extremely limited attention span and intelligence of consumers and even investors. We’ve seen so many comments about people not knowing even the most basic facts about alternative vehicles. Guess what, people are ignorant about EVERYTHING because there’s too much crap going on in their lives, a fact that the status-quo corporations depend on to prevent real change. We fight each other because we fear that the resources don’t exist to support more than one technological solution. HV people fight PHEV people, BV people fight HFC people, Li-ion people fight “coming-soon” battery people. It’s a bloody fight to create a simple, all-purpose “solution” that the stupid public can wrap embrace without actually having to learn anything.

You can say that again.

Well put. There is no one size fits all ANYTHING. Maybe electric isn’t the answer for your >500 mile or “cross-country” trips. Ask yourselves how often you really do that…? Most people, drive less than 40 miles per day. Electrics full that need with zero hydrocarbons being burned.

The debate is really a fight over the extremely limited attention span and intelligence of consumers and even investors. We’ve seen so many comments about people not knowing even the most basic facts about alternative vehicles. Guess what, people are ignorant about EVERYTHING because there’s too much crap going on in their lives, a fact that the status-quo corporations depend on to prevent real change. We fight each other because we fear that the resources don’t exist to support more than one technological solution. even though many are needed. HV people fight PHEV people, BV people fight HFC people, Li-ion people fight “coming-soon” battery people. It’s a bloody fight to create a simple, all-purpose “solution” that the stupid public can wrap embrace without actually having to learn anything.

99% of the public does NOT need to go on a 500 mile XCountry trip. We do something called flying. So statistically it doesn’t matter that you need a car for 500mi trips when EVs are discussed.

It doesn’t matter if the car has 500 miles. Unless you live in California, there is not a charging infrastructure to support out of town trips.

Yes, that’s the issue and it largely explains the enthusiasm for Tesla. Only Tesla has been willing to invest not just in electric vehicles but also the charging infrastructure needed to enable long distance BEV travel.

OK, in a couple of years we will have 200+ mile range BEVs from GM and Nissan. However, are either of these companies willing to build out a Tesla-like network of fast chargers along the interstate highway system? Without this, 200+ mile range BEVs will only be marginally more practical than the 80 mile cars we have today.

There is nothing particularly practical about sitting for an hour to wait for my car to recharge every 200 miles. There is nothing practical about having to ask my relatives if I can use an extension cord from their garage every time I visit. That anyone thinks this makes sense is baffling to me. PHEV’s are brilliant for the 10 times a year I drive more than 50 miles and fully electric otherwise.

Bit of an exaggeration there, fella. You meant to say that PHEV’s are fine for those times you drive 125+ miles, NOT 50+.

FYI, it’s 40 mins to charge, not an hour. It’s not a huge impracticality though, is it. Are you seriously telling me after driving 240 miles you DON’T want to get some food, have a shit, maybe take a walk to stretch your legs? Any time spent charging while you’re doing these things is NO added time to your journey.

So, if 20-30 minutes extra of your life is spent charging on a trip, that’s what, 10 hours extra time lost every year? Seriously, you make it sound like the end of the world. It’s a minor inconvenience at most.


Blah, blah, I’ve heard all the Tesla booster contrived ideal road trip nonsense.

Not sure who takes a shit every three hours – you might want to get that looked into.

I walk to work so owning a BEV isn’t going to save the world from my perspective. I own a car to go on weekend trips to see family, to visit friends a few hours away, and so forth. A BEV is huge inconvience from my perspective. I barely drive 7,000 miles a year so when drive, I just want to drive and get there. I don’t want to shit in public toilets or stop for 50 minutes or whatever. I sure as hell don’t want to be stuck waiting for a charger anywhere. I don’t want to ask friends and family for a cord to bum electricity off of.

Now a PHEV on the other hand – that makes a lot of sense. It’s still overpriced compared to a standard gas car or a regular hybrid, but, conceptually that has far more merit than a pure BEV.

Flash forward 30 years – if batteries keep improving – I concede, pure electric could win.

It’s all in the brain. I DID a 4000 km trip through western Europe this summer, in a Kia Soul EV. And the conclusion was: this is not pioniering anymore, an electric holiday is just doable. Yes, you have to do research beforehand (where are the fast chargers that do actually work), but after that your holiday and scenic driving is the same as before, only quieter and cleaner.

The time penalty is in the research, before leaving, not during the trip. I always stredched my legs every 2,5 hours, I never could drive a whole days without peeing and no, I never only eat junk food in the car while driving; I enjoy eating. And since in Europe many fast chargers are next to supermarkets, you can leave out the time you spent shopping during past holidays. You now do it while charging. That is even a GAIN of time.

Maybe V.W. out of desperation, will join Elon’s supercharger stations!

Tesla has laid the foundation to a rather impressive and comprehensive charging infrastructure. In a few years, they should have complete coverage in the US. The only issue is capacity, as many of these stations are already filling up. I also think that as the novelty diminishes, fewer people will charge at Superchargers- until the only people that do charge are those that are driving 100+ miles per trip, which accounts for very few of us.

Until then, I do agree with the professor that PHEVs are a great stopgap, since it will desensitize the public to the idea of using electricity for the majority of driving, and should introduce them to the EV grin phenomenon. The gas engine will then become an annoyance as its relevance diminishes with each advancement in energy storage.

Did you just add 40 miles of range to a car that doesn’t even yet exist?

Model 3 in three years is great, but driving a Volt within these 3 year waiting period would be even greater.

The sooner we reduce our energy consumptions and our private bills, the better 😉

Yes driving a Model 3 in three years is greater, but it would be even greater to drive those 3 year waiting period with a Volt.

“These new tiny turbo 3 and 4 cylinder engines are perfect compliments to PHEV’s and the stars are aligning. But we need the fanboy’s to get real and start supporting the only real ”


Initial evidence is that turbochargers exploit the European test cycle. So, who’s the fanboy now?


Zim said:

“But we need the [Tesla] fanboy’s to get real and start supporting the only real economically viable solution.”

Both the Volt cheerleaders and the Tesla cheerleaders need to quit fighting with each other. Both the Model S and the Volt accomplish the purpose of replacing most of a driver’s gas-powered miles with electric-powered miles.

Arguing over which is “better” is pointless. One size does not fit all. The Volt fits your lifestyle better? Fine. And the Tesla Model S fits others’ lifestyle better.

Differences in compelling EVs make the EV field stronger, not weaker. It’s foolish to insist There Can Be Only One.

Viva la difference!

One of the main reasons I bought a BEV was to get away from the ice completely. I believe the hybrids add complexity to either type of vehicle.

Hybrids are generally bought by people who wish to appear to others as ‘green’ or ‘broad-minded’ etc but who basically actually can’t be bothered with the relatively simple concept of getting to grips with relying on purely charging their car rather than just carrying on as usual in supporting Big Oil and being happy to continue to pay for ICE servicing etc for the extra convenience of a ICEV over an EV. I appreciate there are some people out there who can’t afford a Tesla but want an EV and, therefore, have to have a hybrid due to the miles they do (reps etc) or do a job that is too important to have to rely on our primitive rapid charging infrastructure (doctors etc) – but, why haven’t you bought a Tesla? In the meantime, hybrid owners are regularly blocking sparse rapid chargers from those who really need them and leading the whole nascent EV movement up the garden path (i.e., hybrids are a white-wash intended to appease the greens or gullible, gormless politicians and journalists). For my money, I would remove all incentives from hybrids, force the makers to release data on how much of hybrid mileage is done… Read more »
Most people who own a Tesla also own at least one other car. And that car is generally either gas-powered or a hybrid. So, while Tesla cheerleaders can brag about not burning any gasoline at all, and so consider themselves “better” than Volt drivers, the dirty little secret is that most of them drive gas-burners when they feel the need. While I personally would prefer a PHEV with an EV range of at least 60 miles, so that 90% or more of my miles driven would be electric-powered rather than gas-powered, I doubt that on average, Tesla drivers are actually saving much gas as compared to Volt drivers. Volt drivers don’t need a second car for taking trips that are inconvenient in a BEV. Now, I certainly do laud those Model S drivers who are dedicated enough to plan road trips around use of the Supercharger network. But it’s an inconvenience, and trying to argue that everyone should put up with that inconvenience is only going to annoy the average person. Nobody is gonna be convinced to buy a BEV because someone tells them that they ought to put up with an inconvenience now and then, and if they don’t,… Read more »

No real value from this interview!

Or your comment.

Or this comment….

Well, let’s see. We have an elderly professor going on and on about things I hope everybody here already knows, and some students dumpster diving for used cells.

How about telling us about subjects we don’t already know, like the iron silicon cell that was briefly mentioned?

You do realize, yes, that Fully Charged is aimed at your average joe, whereas InsideEV’s is populated by some REAL hardcore EV enthusiasts who probably know far more than Mr Llewelyn himself knows.

I still like to see his youtube. It gives me an idea as to how far apart is the UK from say Norway!

With all the “Fully Charged” videos that Robert Llewellyn has done, I’m pretty sure he knows more about EVs than at least 98% of the people who post here. How many different EVs have you driven?

But I was surprised to discover that Mr. Llewellyn didn’t know the “18650” cell designation was an indication of the cell dimensions in millimeters. That has got to be one of the very, very few EV-related things that I learned sooner than he did.

Always appreciate the money from (near) nothing aspect with regard to post-use, and the re-application of disposed LiOn batteries is damned cool (the students at the end).

A small solar, used/disposed batteries and LED lighting means Light for areas that cannot presently get dependable wire-power. That is a Quality-of-Life game changer, hope someone is able to pursue this to the fullest.

Thanks, Jay (and of course, Robert L), Great interview and battery 101 for many people.

Make a Volt CUV.

I don’t have range anxiety. Unless you need to travel outside of the range of your EV, it’s irrelevant. The car is “full” every night.

As for the never-ending PHEV vs EV debate, I still choose the EV solution, and truly believe it is the way forward, but not for the reasons mentioned. A pure EV is a MUCH simpler vehicle than a PHEV. Don’t get me wrong, the Volt is an amazing feat of engineering, arguably more so than the Tesla Model S. But I would rather have simple, simple, simple vehicle, and a PHEV is more complex than an ICE vehicle, not less. The EV is SO much simpler. In the 4 years I’ve been operating pure EVs, I have never had a problem, not to mention an oil change. With so many fewer parts, the EV is simply a better mousetrap. I will never have to go to Midas to get a new muffler.

So, eventually, the EV will win this game. Logic dictates it.

“So, eventually, the EV will win this game. Logic dictates it.”

Yes, eventually BEV will be most popular choice, but before it happens there are a lot of different needs of different drivers. BEV is better for some drivers and PHEV for others. No point in arguing about that.

If BEV is working for you that is great. Personally I drive Opel Ampera, because there is no BEV on the market that would fit my needs.

Maybe BMW i3 has the winning solution. Range extender as an option. It will take a long time before fast charging is available everywhere globally. At remote and sparsely populated areas maybe never. Need for range extender will remain for foreseeable future.

Robert made a good job: it was more a monologue by him than an interview, so he missed the chance to really ask the Prof about new developments and trends and let him talk and explain – what I had expected from the headline.
A comment about the phev discussion: What I miss there is a hobbs meter (like in aircrafts) to record the usage of the combustion engine (be it miles, hours, or number of revolutions), because I don’t want to pay for an oil change (etc.) after 15,000 km if I drove only 3,000 km on gas and 12,000 on electricity.

volt-stats.net reports “EV miles” and total miles separately, so figuring the gas-powered miles requires only simple subtraction. Doesn’t the Volt’s display make that data available to each Volt driver?


A little off topic, but Autoline is saying that LG Chem is annoyed at GM publishing the price the are paying for batteries. I was wondering what reason they could have had for that.

I was wondering why GM would make that public, myself. EV makers keep such info private, as trade secrets. Why would GM choose to make it public?

Unless that was disinformation. (And no, I don’t think it’s all that unlikely. After all, GM did lie to us about the Volt being a pure serial hybrid. Why wouldn’t they lie again, if they saw some advantage in it?)

Prof Bruce is a bit of a wacko or he just plays the zeitgeist for funding. Battery grid storage is a dumb idea. Distributed generation of small scale fail-safe nuclear plants seems far more attractive. Eliminating carbon emissions is a red herring argument since science easily proves that more carbon dioxide in the air is beneficial, not harmful. The PhD guys making a little LED light out of used batteries was embarrassing – at the level of a high school science project. The prof probably knows better but he is just trying to keep current with popular trends – riding the wave.

The rate at which Tesla is selling its PowerPack battery backups to commercial and industrial users strongly suggests that stationary electricity storage is a market that is going to grow very rapidly; much more rapidly than the EV market. Tesla isn’t the only vendor selling large stationary electrical power storage units, either.

And altho I am a strong proponent of commercial nuclear power, and I think that we should replace every single coal-fired power plant with a nuclear plant ASAP, I don’t believe there is any such thing as a “fail-safe nuclear [power] plant”. And there almost certainly won’t be until we develop practical fusion power. That said, it seems that “Generation IV” thorium nuclear power plants are safer, and we certainly should be developing that tech as fast as possible. Unfortunately, the only place where there is an attempt to commercialize that tech is in China.

“I think that we should replace every single coal-fired power plant with a nuclear plant ASAP” Wouldn’t it be already cheaper to replace every single coal-fired power plant with a combination of solar power and adequate battery storage? I did not do the calculation yet, but a rough estimate tells me that chances are quite high that price/Wp are low enough that we already reached that point. Something in the 0.60$ range is in my head… Add the storage cost for 1 week capacity and you have comparable base-load security… Even if that would be let’s say 100% more expensive (which I doubt if you include long-term-cost of nuclear waste deposition – which is often neglected but in fact the german goverment is concerned that they will have to pay for that while the big 3 energy provides go bancrupt or find a way to “outsource” that deposition cost…) it could be accomplished much faster: How long does it take to plan, get permissions, build, test and run up one new nuclear power plant? How long does it take to plan, get permission, build, test and run up one new photovaltaic cells plant that wil crank out 100MW/p per year?… Read more »

You say, “Prof Bruce is a bit of a wacko”, but he seems pretty level-headed to me, as these guys go. I didn’t hear anything all that bad that he said; he has to agree with the Polemic regarding “Carbon” otherwise he simply won’t get any funding.

But he did state the obvious fact that Sun and Wind are somewhat intermittent, and that good batteries are one way to smooth the output from these sources. I certainly can’t fault that.

Other ways of course are flywheel systems, and the traditional ‘base load’ and gas turbine systems to compensate for the flux.

But his interest is in batteries, and he seems pretty well grounded to me.

As far as the ‘high school science project’ goes, they did say they are at least trying to optimize use of old batteries, even if that just amounts to sorting various grades of batteries into their most usable configurations.

Did not yet watch video, but one idea for reusing / repurposing post EV Batteries that could help, is if the Battery modules were grouped in 12V Modules, so at end of us could be arranged in various Voltages to suit other applications easier.

As to the Volt Argument – please review the PHEV comments: Chevy calls t a EREV for a reason – it works totally different than the Plug-in Prius, the Ford Energi series, etc.
As chevy says: “Electric when you need it, Gas when you want it!”

And – I you like to go for the 0-60 times, it’s all EV However, for the lighter footed drivers, the PIP gives better post EV Fuel economy, and longer range than Volt between Fill ups! It all depends on how bad you want to drive WITHOUT Gas!

You’d have to have an exceptionally short daily driving distance to go further in a Prius Plug-in, with its tiny 11-12 mile EV range, than in a Volt, with its 35 or 38 or 50 mile EV range, before needing to fill the gas tank. Certainly much shorter than the ~40 mile average for American drivers.

There are unfortunately all too many PHEVs with a range so short as to be little more than greenwashing, when it comes to actually replacing gas-powered miles with electricity-powered miles. The PiP is one of the very worst in that respect; one of the very shortest EV range PHEVs.

And in case you didn’t hear, Toyota is phasing out the PiP. Obviously there isn’t much demand for it!