ST. PAUL, Minn.: In what seems to be a magic trick, Dele Fayemi runs a batch of batteries in a beaker of boiling water: a physical impossibility that should cause a short circuit.
But instead of a highly-dangerous combination of water and electricity, the 3M Co engineer is testing the batteries in Novec, a non-flammable, non-conductive liquid the conglomerate has sold to cool supercomputers, and which it now aims to sell to automakers to cool batteries.
Maintaining a constant, low temperature helps electric vehicles (EVs) drive longer distances, so keeping batteries cool could help solve a key problem for automakers: a lack of range has been a major obstacle to the mass adoption of electric cars.
“As you can see, the temperature remains constant,” at 32 Celsius (90 Fahrenheit), Fayemi said, the boiling point of this particular batch of Novec, which 3M also wants to sell to data centers to keep servers cool.
“Automakers are trying to figure out how to get the absolute maximum out of batteries,” said Ray Eby, head of 3M’s automotive electrification program, which was created last year. “That’s right in 3M’s wheelhouse.”
Major automakers plan to roll out hundreds of new electric vehicle models over the next several years, fueled by investments that consultancy AlixPartners has estimated at up to US$255 billion through 2023 more