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Batteries, Fuel Cells, and their Role in Modern Society (edX)

This course is an introduction to batteries and fuel cells – the cornerstones of electromobility and renewable energy. In today’s world, we see game-changing movements in transportation and energy markets. A better understanding of the processes involved can help you to find your own role in these incipient shifts and take advantage of monumental changes down the road.

This course is an elementary introduction to batteries and fuel cell, the cornerstone of electromobility and renewable energy, the main drivers of sustainable development. Learning the lessons of history, understanding the main driving forces, and gaining the basic knowledge of the key technologies will build your basic all-around comprehension of the subject.


This course aims to bridge science and society. For students focused on science, it will help illustrate the demands of society and industry. For learners from industry, business, or from generalist backgrounds, it will be the lucid introduction to the subject.

The short course will not make you an expert in batteries, fuels cells, and electric vehicles, but will help you in communicating with scientists and engineers and make your further education (or self-education) more productive. The main focus of the course is on batteries – namely, lithium-ion batteries – and electric vehicles as the key market.

What you’ll learn

– Lessons of history that build understanding of possible risks of electromobility in near future

– The driving forces of growing demand in electromobility and energy storage and how these will change the game

– Basic principles and “how it works” for electrics vehicles, batteries and fuels cells

– Main types of batteries and fuel cells

– How electrode material chemistry defines battery characteristics

Course Syllabus

Week 1. History of electric vehicles

1.1. Lessons of history. EV dawn

1.2. Lessons of history. EV falling down

1.3. Lessons of history. EV oblivion

1.4. Technical remark. How electric vehicle beats gasoline car

1.5. Technical remark. How gasoline beats battery

1.6. Supporting materials. EV vs. gasoline cars in winter

Week 2. EV revival or why governments care so much about EVs and clean energy

2.1. EV revival. Ecology – air pollution

2.2. EV revival. Ecology – well-to-wheel pollutions

2.3. EV revival. Politics

2.4. EV revival. Economics

2.5. EV revival. Age of electricity

2.6. Important remark. How clean are EVs

2.7. You may be interested. Peak oil

Week 3. Engineering. Electric Vehicles and batteries

3.1. EV and hybrids. Classification and how it works

3.2. Choosing the battery you need. Five main characteristics

3.3. Electric buses. Two solutions

3.4. Electric trucks, ships, aircraft

3.5. Related technology. Wheel-hub-motors or how to make car waltzing

3.6. Related technology. Wireless charging

3.7. Related technology. Autonomous driving

3.8. Battery producers

3.9. PHEV sales

Week 4. Science. Chemical power sources

4.1. Brief history of electrochemistry

4.2. Basic principles of batteries and fuel cells

4.3. Fuel cells. Motivation

4.4. Fuel cells. Classification

4.5. Fuel cells. Comparison

4.6. Fuel cells. More details

4.7. Energy sources and energy storage

Week 5. Science. Different types of batteries

5.1. Lead acid batteries

5.2. NiCd, NiMH, NiFe

5.3. Li-ion batteries

5.4. Conventional and all-solid-state lithium-ion batteries

Week 6. Electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries

6.1. Positive electrode materials. Layered LCO, NMC, NCA and others

6.2. Positive electrode materials. Olivine LFP and others

6.3. Positive electrode materials. Spinel LMO, LNMO and others

6.5. Negative electrode materials. Carbon based material

6.6. Negative electrode materials. Spinel LTO

6.8. What is next?

ENROLL IN COURSE