Why is it important: Increasing battery density will allow electric vehicle manufacturers to increase the range of their vehicles by using batteries of the same size. They can also make some models (such as sports cars) lighter and more compact if driving range is not a priority.

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According to a new report from ReutersPanasonic is working on improved battery chemistry that could increase energy density by 20 percent by the next decade. Given that the best batteries on the market today have a capacity of around 750 Wh/L, the company’s future cells could push that figure up to an impressive 900 Wh/L.

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Panasonic will reportedly achieve this by using a new mixture of additives in the battery electrolyte, which in turn will increase the maximum voltage of each individual battery cell from 4.2 volts to 4.4 volts. Another method is to replace more of the graphite in the anodes with silicon-based materials, although this will make the batteries more expensive. Finally, the company plans to use single-crystal materials in the cathode to mitigate the effects of micro-cracks (small cracks that gradually form over charge cycles, resulting in poor battery life).

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Panasonic is a major supplier to EV manufacturers like Tesla, which means these upgrades could increase the range of the Model S by up to 75 miles, for example. However, there are other ways to improve the energy density in electric vehicle batteries.

The use of 4680 battery cells, which are wider and taller than today’s 2170 cells, could increase the range of electric vehicles by 16 percent through more efficient use of space. They also have the advantage of being significantly cheaper to manufacture. Panasonic will reportedly build a new plant in Kansas that will supply Tesla with 4680 batteries, with the Model Y likely to be the first car to ship with them.