New initiatives of the Obama Administration to advance electric vehicle adoption include the development of a battery pack with a specific energy of 500 watt-hours per kilogram and a 350 kilowatt DC fast charging system.

If accomplished, the battery’s specific energy would be more than two-and-a half times the 170-200 watt-hours per kilogram in today’s typical EV battery.

The initiative supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is called Battery500, and it represents a consortium led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in Richland, Washington and includes four other DOE national laboratories and five universities.

The advisory board includes PNNL, Tesla Motors and IBM.

During the five-year project the consortium hopes to reach the goal by focusing on lithium-metal batteries, which use lithium instead of graphite.

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The group will pair lithium with two different materials for the cathode and expect to achieve 1,000 electric vehicle cycles.

This will result in a significantly smaller, lighter weight, less expensive battery pack (below $100/kWh) and more affordable EVs.

Government funding for Battery500 is $10 million per year for five years.

In a companion initiative, the DOE is partnering with the national laboratories, industry and other stakeholders to develop a study of direct current (DC) EV fast charging of up to 350 kilowatts.

The study is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

A 350 kilowatt charging system could charge a 200-mile range battery in less than 10 minutes, increasing not only the utility of EVs, but opens a door to wider adoption by consumers.

Combine these two initiatives along with another government program, EV charging corridors on national highways, and the future of electric cars begins to look brighter.

Green Car Congress