Lithium ions can be used to store energy in an electric vehicle battery, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Oxford.
The findings will help make lithium ion batteries safer for consumers.
Lead acid batteries are used in cars and other electric vehicles that use gasoline.
They use chemicals called hydrogen and oxygen to power the wheels and the engine, and the oxygen and hydrogen in the fuel are stored in the battery itself.
These hydrogen and carbon monoxide-generating batteries use electricity to run the motors and the battery, but because they are less efficient than lithium ion battery technology, they also tend to have higher energy densities.
Lead and lithium ion cells, as they are often called, have about half the energy density of their lithium counterparts.
Researchers found that the energy denseness of lead acid and lithium-ion batteries is much higher than the energy levels of lead and lithium ions in conventional batteries.
“We used a large battery to measure energy density, and we found that, on average, the energy of a lead acid-based battery is about twice as high as that of a lithium ion-based lithium-polymer battery,” said the study’s senior author, Daniela Cacciatore, an associate professor in the department of materials science and engineering at Oxford.
“The energy density for a lithium- ion battery is more than three times that of lead-acid batteries.”
Cacciatores and her colleagues examined data from more than 2,500 electric vehicles sold in Europe between 2008 and 2015.
They found that both lead and lead acid, while still very much popular, are in decline in terms of popularity.
Lead acid batteries were more popular in the United States than any other battery type in Europe.
Lead is also more expensive to make than other types of batteries, and lead batteries are often more expensive than lithium batteries.
While lead acid was more popular than lead-based batteries, it is not necessarily safer, according the researchers.
They say lead acid is not a good choice for use in large electric vehicles because of the potential for a catastrophic failure if a battery fails.
“If you have an accident where one of your lithium ion cell parts falls out, there is no risk of the whole system failing,” said Cacciato, who also is a professor in Oxford’s Department of Chemical Engineering.
“We think it’s much more likely that a lead- and lithium acid-type battery will fail, but it is possible.”
In an interview with Medical News TODAY, Cacciata said that, even if a lithium battery fails, the battery would still be safe.
Lead and lead-containing batteries use a higher percentage of lithium ions than their carbon-containing counterparts.
The researchers said the energy stored in a lead cell battery is higher than that of its carbon counterpart, but the difference is due to the higher percentage and the higher energy level of lead ions.
Cacciato said that while the study did not look at how lead acid versus lead-type batteries might differ in safety, they did see a correlation between the energy consumption of lead cells and their higher energy capacity.
“It is likely that these two batteries, for their energy density, are comparable in terms a risk of a failure and safety,” Cacciati said.
“If the batteries were comparable in both safety and energy density we would expect them to both be safe.”
The researchers did not investigate whether lead acid has a safety benefit over other types.
Cacciataros team is planning a follow-up study that will look at the safety of the two batteries in different electric vehicles.