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Electric Car Battery Technology 2023

So a  lot of interest keeps being generated by this topic globally as people struggle to see how we are going to move from the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) to a more sustainable way of getting around.

To be fair I think mostly the mainstream media are selling the public a whole tissue of lies when which is a shame, as we can do some amazing things with electric now, but its not quite as easy as they are making out.

One advance to keep an eye on this year is in so-called solid-state batteries which I am reading a lot more about. The current lithium-ion batteries and related chemistries use a liquid electrolyte that shuttles charge around; solid-state batteries replace this liquid with ceramics or other solid materials. I think we have really reached the limit for energy density for Li-ion at a cheap price.

Researchers have succeeded in making rechargeable pouch-type lithium batteries with a record-breaking energy density of over 700 Wh/kg. The new design comprises a high-capacity lithium-rich manganese-based cathode and a thin lithium metal anode with high specific energy. If developed further, the device could find use in applications such as electric aviation, which requires much higher energy density batteries than those available today.

This swap unlocks possibilities that pack more energy into a smaller space, potentially improving the range of electric vehicles. Solid-state batteries could also move charge around faster, meaning shorter charging times. And because some solvents used in electrolytes can be flammable, proponents of solid-state batteries say they improve safety by cutting fire

However, a new type of battery could finally make electric cars as convenient and cheap as gas ones. Solid-state batteries can use a wide range of chemistries, but a leading candidate for commercialization uses lithium metalQuantumscape, for one, is focused on that technology and raised hundreds of millions in funding before going public in 2020. The company has a deal with Volkswagen that could put its batteries in cars by 2025.  They have created a single-layer, solid-state lithium-metal battery cell.

However, completely reinventing batteries has proved difficult, and lithium-metal batteries have seen concerns about degradation over time, as well as manufacturing challenges. Quantumscape announced in late December it had delivered samples to automotive partners for testing, a significant milestone on the road to getting solid-state batteries into cars. Other solid-state-battery players, like Solid Power, are also working to build and test their batteries. But while they could reach major milestones this year as well, their batteries won’t make it into vehicles on the road in 2023. 

Solid-state batteries aren’t the only new technology to watch out for. Sodium-ion batteries also swerve sharply from lithium-ion chemistries common today. These batteries have a design similar to that of lithium-ion batteries, including a liquid electrolyte, but instead of relying on lithium, they use sodium as the main chemical ingredient. Chinese battery giant CATL reportedly plans to begin mass-producing them in 2023. 

Sodium-ion batteries may not improve performance, but they could cut costs because they rely on cheaper, more widely available materials than lithium-ion chemistries do. But it’s not clear whether these batteries will be able to meet needs for EV range and charging time.

Cathodes are typically one of the most expensive parts of a battery, and a type of cathode called NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) is the dominant variety in EV batteries today. But those three elements, in addition to lithium, are expensive, so cutting some or all of them could help decrease costs. 

This year could be a breakout year for one alternative: lithium iron phosphate (LFP), a low-cost cathode material sometimes used for lithium-ion batteries. 

The big question I have is when we will see the birth and realisation of a viable retrofit system where you can give up a bit of boot space, or undercar space, to have a battery pack and electrical motor fitted in good cars already out there. This could be a licence to print money and be much better for the environment. In the mean time I am holding on to both my Saab 95 cars in hope!

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Teacher Workload

I was looking at the Toolkits sent out from the Department for Education to try and help schools reduce workload. I think they have some good ideas to start off some schools who really struggle with this. I like this graph idea where you identify as high workload / low impact to give you area of focus.

Should these practices be stopped, amended to make them less time intensive, or refined so they have more impact?

If it does not really help students in a major way, we all just need to ditch it and do things that work. Marking is a huge part of this and some people are obsessed with it. However, the golden part of marking is pupils reflecting on their own work. This actually often does not need to be as teacher centric as many schools make it.

Also I think we need to look at communication – both internally and externally. It vital to have, but can place a significant demand on us all.

What can all of us (school leaders, teachers and support staff) do to lower the burden.

By updating policies and practice, streamlining or just stopping dead all the things that hoover up your time?

I think schools are really poor at times at just saying no to parents or stakeholders and often people in SLT positions add on tasks all the time without removal of existing burdens. Industry is great at avoiding this as usually your business collapses as the profits dry up and inefficiency’s creep in. Also schools historically are tied to all sorts of traditions which seem to be stuck in the UK. Things like a yearly school reports on paper, got replaced by multiple reports which ultimately may be done on a computer but generally seem to be more of a burden than ever before. In an age where we can share any grade with parents online, why not just share the testing and any behaviour issues when they come up? Also just keep it simple!

I wonder how many people in SLT see it as their job to be the “streamliner” and efficiency expert. This is your key role and everyone should have the mantra that if they can shave even 30s off a process it may ultimately lead to hours of saving of time for staff at the whiteboard. Filling in forms and sharing information is another notoriously complex task in some schools. This can all be streamlined, and project managed to give a better outcome in less time.

Final point, maybe teachers need to have a standard 36 hour contract and then anything else is paid overtime. This may bring out the best in SLT and middle managers to get it right for staff. When you are paid by the hour, you never take longer to do anything that is mission critical

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2023 Poorly Written AQA Physics Exam

I am extremely disappointed by this year’s AQA Spec A A-level papers. The challenge was simply too much for many pupils and clearly the difficulty of the papers in comparison to Edexcel as a comparison was clear from the papers and marks requires for higher grades which were significantly different. See my analysis below of the difference between the two papers.

The content itself is clearly similar overall to both courses but the contexts were not to that taught. Pupils and teachers expect to teach on a factual and then see that mostly that content is obvious when tested. The whole question should not be cryptic and clearly whoever was writing most of the longer answer questions was someone with a point to prove. The Physics subject is not popular at most schools and has become worse over time with many pupils simply not picking it as the chances of getting an A or A* at other subjects is easier. We have no coursework to pick up some easier marks so it’s all on 3 hard papers. Paper 3 had a question to start about the “duty cycle” of an oscilloscope. Interesting you don’t need to know what that is to answer to that to get the 1 marker, but I have never each heard of a “duty cycle”. When you delve into it with the internet available and work through the question with help of a mark scheme it is clear. Not complex but convoluted and not accessible. So, if I have never heard of it, taught or, been taught it and I have a pure Physics degree, who will?  I pride myself on doing a thorough job and even teach Lissajous figures which most don’t so how did my pupils get caught out?

Also, Paper 3 Q1.3 talks of “graphical analysis of figure 1” which is a photograph and not graph. As a good teacher I always ask pupils to look at the whole of a question before they start. When I did Q1.3 I was confused I as looked at figure 3 after the question as it was a graph wondering what to do. It’s another example of poor wording and making the questions so long over pages it is just confusing. Also, some of the practical questions were just not clear on what they wanted and again so convoluted it was hard for any pupil so see what to answer. A lot were just stabbing around in the dark as was I when I did the papers myself in lots of questions. They took me ages to work out and the time you gave in the exam was not enough. I would have certainly run out of time and not been tested on what I knew. The practical skills are hard enough to teach with simply basic examples of graphing and skills we don’t need to make it into a maths exercise. Which brings me onto the maths across all three papers. In reality your exams are not accessible for any pupils not taking A-level Maths to an A2 level. Virtually every question seemed to have some fiddly maths on each level to start and finish a question. Paper3 Q7 on nuclear decay and thermal neutrons usually has been a straightforward word-based question to explain. However, they showed a complex ratio graph, again which I have never seen in all my travels (and I worked at the Nuclear electric but had not taken a “nuclear physics degree”). It’s just too involved for mainstream exams and pushing onto university ideas. If you want them to be taught this kind of thing, it needs to be clearly defined in the specifications so I can teach them some of it beforehand.

The leaps expected for most students are so tricky, again they are just guessing and randomly stumbling on an answer. Why make it so tricky, just not needed. It is wrong to do this as we are ending up cutting off many students. Since the A-level reforms nobody does AS so we don’t even have pupils taking Maths further than GCSE. If you want this to be the case, you need to put out new guidance to teachers so we can make this clear. Again, the Maths only route is really not great for Physics numbers.

Physics drops as a mainstream subject down the rankings

I have taught AQA for all of my 21-year career and had many pupils obtain A* grades over an extended period of time and see many go to Oxbridge or other high class destinations. We also had pupils with exceptionally low grades which made 2 years of their and our lives pointless. This is similar to when pupils and teachers were cheating at AQA ISA exams and I realised that they had become impossible to do unless you cheated, I switched to the EMPA exam and found my A* students again were obtaining A* instead of C on the ISA exams. We must change it for next year or we will end up with an even bigger crisis than ever in Physics teaching and nobody will take physics. I am really saddened and hope AQA will listen.

So if anyone who works with AQA has any thoughts, please share them, and AQA might listen?

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August 2023 Summer Updates

Afternoon All!

Just a mention I have been tweaking and removing some older content from the main menus, you can still get it by using the search function but I have I tweaked the KS3 and Science areas to make it easy to find things and also add some new topics. I am broadly trying to follow the Active series of lessons by OUP so adding content as I go. I don’t teach much if any KS3 Science now so it might be a while, but when I have more time, I will add lots more of my hidden resources and build some more video banks. Any questions please let me know, and remember if you use the resources they are not for resale but free to share and use for lessons.

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A Quantum Summer – by Daniel Powell

The fusing ball we call the sun shines down, it’s rays a warm embrace, The EM radiation passes through, a quantum symphony of grace.

The air is filled with longitudinal waves and song as birds chirp merrily, bees are buzzing at 800Hz and kinetic energy rustles through the trees.sun

The world is awash with a spectrum of light, The 525 nm of the trees, The 420 nm of the sky and 650nm of the flowers around us.

Our Universe is such a place a quantum possibility with the potential for our star, sol being either on or off, or maybe neither?

However, for us being larger than your average electron can always be approximated to a hot sweaty lump of biological matter just soaking up the EM radiation as all of the wavefunctions have collapsed.

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Welcome to Animated Science

Dear Readers,

I started Animated Science in 2003 as a small flash-based site for my own pupils. I am now serving Science, teacher training and food-based blog content around the world with an ever-increasing footprint.

It has been over 20 years now online and the changes have been massive, but I try to keep up and serving free content for all users. I serve over 200,000 pages a month from this site alone. The reach is global with many countries using the content but mainly the traffic is from the UK, US, Philippines, India, UAE, Australia, Sweden, Canada.

My site is a non-profit concern, and all resources are provided free of charge and should not be commercially exploited in any way. The ads I have all pay for the hosting and features on the site, so it really is a super Physics resource for all to use.

I also run other content channels in addition to this WordPress based site, please feel free to subscribe and support me. 


Daniel Powell

Animated Science Director









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Brain imaging study finds that teaching maths to less anxious students helps!

This is super research and fits in with what I see daily in Physics.

The idea that if you are stressed you do worse at the mathematics components I think it’s key for Physics. This is why for nearly all my work I give full answers in printed or electronic form and allow my students to read what they want at their own pace.  I avoid excessive questioning in front of the class and make it low stakes.

If you are learning through written questions or works well. a most pupils then slowly learn without stress at their own pace.

I think we all need to move to this type of work and forget a lot of what has gone on for many years. If you want to pressure a pupil give them a proper test in exam conditions. This of course has it place too, but in the classroom normally, Physics is about practice and not stress!

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Practical & Maths Skills

This selection of resources will help you prepare and practice for any questions which involve mathematics or practical ideas.

iGCSE Key Terminology in Context

iGCSE 7 Plus Skills

Air Propelled Car

Air Propelled Car


AQA Resources


Sig Figs

Standard Form

Algebra Skills




Exam Questions (practical focus)

Practical Based Example Questions

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