Radically Better Batteries Unlikely Anytime Soon

1 year ago by Eric Loveday 81

Techrules TREV technology - Battery cells

Techrules TREV technology – Battery cells

Panasonic lithium-ion battery cells

Panasonic lithium-ion battery cells

G. Pascal Zachary, a professor of practice at Arizona State University’s School for the Future of Innovation in Society, recently penned an article on the future of battery technology.

The article, titled “The Search for a Better Battery – Government funding and venture capital won’t buy us better batteries anytime soon,” appears in its entirety here.

Here are a few takeaway points from the article, which focuses solely on battery advancement and the importance of breakthrough technology in the battery field:

  • No less than a transformation in personal transport depends on vastly better batteries
  • The last great innovation occurred 25 years ago, in 1991, when Sony combined the lithium cobalt oxide cathode of an American, John B. Goodenough, with a carbon anode to create the world’s first commercial rechargeable lithium ion battery.
  • The enormity of the challenge is sobering. Take autos alone. For drivers, the sweet spot is a charge that lasts at least 800 kilometers (500 miles) and takes minutes, not hours, to restore. Those metrics are a distant dream. 
  • So in the near future, better batteries are possible—but radically better ones are unlikely.
  • For now, designing devices that consume as little energy as possible would seem wise
  • The straight line to achieving better batteries still includes asking less of them whenever possible

Zachary discusses several of the battery “breakthroughs” that have never become reality and seems pessimistic in regards to some tech leaping out that will instantly change everything.

To us, it does seem as though battery technology inches along, which is okay for now, but for electric cars to become truly mainstream and displace petrol, a real breakthrough will probably be required at some point.   We do tend to disagree that a 500 mile/in minutes charge is the “sweet spot“; if charging takes just minutes and a solid infrastructure is available to EV drivers, ~300 miles would seem to be more than sufficient.

Source: IEEE

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81 responses to "Radically Better Batteries Unlikely Anytime Soon"

  1. mhpr262 says:

    A “sweet spot” of 500 miles? I say BS. 350 miles maybe is plenty, once peple realize that you can fill up your “tank” in your garage every day, overnight. And we’re already almost there. Also, ther are plenty of innovations, maybe not around the corner, but around two corners. Graphene, nanotech, silicon, lithium/air and lithium/sulfur chemistries etc …

    1. Chris O says:

      Agreed. Even the average ICE doesn’t have 500 miles of range and the biggest reason that kind of range is interesting for ICEs is that -unlike EVs- they don’t start with a full tank every day and one wants to avoid the hassle of having to fill up again as much as possible.

      If this level of thinking is typical for the rest of this report it’s definitely not the last word in the possibilities of significant battery breakthroughs in the not so distant future.

    2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      It is fine for you and fellow EV enthusiasts, but most people in the world don’t even have their own garage. And those who have, are not ready to give up freedom to drive long distances at full speed. Prof. Zachary was talking about mass market – that is ~ 70 millions car produced year now, not rich enthusiast niche.

      1. Speculawyer says:

        But that can be solved by mass installation of chargers everywhere. Any places where a light duty vehicle is parked for more than 4 hours should be considered a place to possibly install a charger.

        Now I agree that will be a big expensive undertaking. But the technology needed is apprentice level electrician work.

      2. Speculawyer says:

        Tesla drivers drive long distances at full speed.

      3. Michael Will says:

        The answer is destination charging. A commuters car will be parked in the same spot for many hours while at work. Perfect location to charge from solar power in the daytime.

        1. This EV enthusiast mindset is just not the world. Assuming everybody has a job to commute to, or a garage to plug in overnight, or a destination that has convenient charging is just silly. Yet, it comes up all the time.

          The easiest short term solution is ubiquitous DC quick charging with long-ish range cars. That’s what is already in Japan, and I suspect that China will follow this model.

          If you can have:

          1) charge overnight at home
          2) charge at work (assuming you have a work)
          3) charge at a destination

          That’s all great. It’s just not required to get an EV.

      4. krona2k says:

        You don’t need a garage, or even a drive, to charge. Outside overnight charging in public is trivial and happens all the time.

        I have charged outside every night for three years without a single failure.

        I do have a garage, but it’s full of junk, really need to sort that out!

    3. no comment says:

      the reason why auto companies advertise 500-600 mile range in cars is because it signifies to the potential buyer that you can travel for a long time without having to stop to fill up. in other words, the measure is an indication of the suitability of the car for highway driving.

      people typically don’t buy cars with a specific purpose in mind, and they certainly don’t buy cars thinking that they will take “x” number of long distance trips in a given time period. but if you try to sell a person on a car that is “great for 90% of daily driving…and you can go out and rent a car for the occasional highway trip”; that would be a hard sell to most people. likewise, if you tell them that they can buy a BEV that can travel 200+ miles after which you would stop to recharge for “only” 30-60 minutes, that isn’t going to look attractive next to an ICE that advertises 500-600 miles between 5 minute fill ups.

      the authors of the study are obviously looking beyond EV enthusiasts to the general public. that is why the study is suggesting that for BEVs to become viable there is a need for significant increase in energy density and effectively megawatt charging stations. the being to allow BEVs to match ICEs in terms of flexibility and convenience.

    4. evcarnut says:

      I agree 350 is Goodenough.. l o l (((the lithium battery Inventor)))… But 500 Is better….

    5. Priusmaniac says:

      I would like 400 miles of real life, 80 mph speed, in cold weather, with aged battery, range and 10 minute 80% charging. That is what it takes to really end the ICE dominance. So, we are on the right track to get there but we still need a 50% increase in range and a quadrupling in charge speed. In clear 150 KWh and 500 KW charge speed.

  2. Someone out there says:

    Quite an uninteresting article. It all depends on how you define “radical breakthrough”. Sure, producing a battery that stores orders of magnitude more energy for the same price, weight and volume is very far off but stepwise refinement for many years will add up as well. Batteries are already good enough for EVs and they are getting better and most of all cheaper.

  3. Nemo says:

    Why does the “sweet spot” need to be 500 miles of range for an EV, when the average new ICE only gets 300-400?

    1. mhpr262 says:

      So the anti-EV Big Oil crowd can continue to whine that “EVs are just not quite there yet”.

    2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      It should be obvious that you can’t recharge battery in 3 minutes on every intersection like gas tank. 500 miles average range may convince most average people that on road recharging isn’t big issue. And 500 miles theoretical range may mean 300 miles at highway speeds or in winter, so it would be about the same as regular gas cars. Hybrids or diesels typically have higher than 300 miles range, but you don’t care about range when you can refill in 3 minutes.

      1. Speculawyer says:

        It should be obvious that long trips are rarely taken and that Tesla drivers already do them regularly. It should be obvious that one needs to consider that the ability to charge up at home (or at any 240V source) means you wake up to a fully charged EV.

        The main reason gas cars have large tanks is not because people often drive long distances, it is because filling up at a gas station every day would be a huge hassle!

        1. kdawg says:

          I always find it interesting what people choose as the criteria for a “good car”. In this case they are saying one-shot range is the criteria, and that range should be 500 miles. Obviously this will favor gas cars with large tanks. However I could just as easily choose a criteria of “days between visiting a gas station”, and say 3 months should be the minimum time. Obviously this will favor BEVs and PHEVs with larger batteries. Regular gas cars would look poor using this criteria.

          So point is, there is no universal good/bad car. It all depends on what the criteria are.

    3. no comment says:

      i don’t know how recent your information is, but these days there are a lot of ICE cars that come in at around 500 miles of range. cars like the chevrolet malibu or buick regal have about 500 miles of range. i believe the chevrolet impala is closer to 600 miles.

      1. Brandon says:

        My Prius did around 450 miles on a tank. But yeah, 300 mile range on an EV and 150 kW charging about 2% of trips is fine.

  4. Fool Cells says:

    500 miles is a bit high. I would argue sub 30k for 250 miles with the supercharger network is the sweet spot. Oh and, that in a CUV/SUV/mid size vehicle.

    Between the superchargers and home charging, that range would cover nearly 100% of daily commutes with the heat on MAX and it being 10 degrees outside.

    1. EV’s: Price is the first stumbling block!
      If the cost of the motor and controller were on par with the cost of a gas/diesel engine (or, it should be actually less!), then if we were just charged the cost of the batteries, how much more expensive should, for example, a Spark EV cost over the Gas one?

      MSRP – ICE Spark: $14,635 (LS Automatic);
      MSRP – Spark EV: $26,385 (EV 2LT), 19 kWh Battery.
      If Battery costs $200/kWh: $3,800: so $14,635 + $3,800 = $18,435!

      So, I would say, before any promo’s, rebates, or credits, if the Spark EV cost under $19,000 at MSRP, it would for sure, be at a ‘sweet Spot’

  5. Ncc7251 says:

    … And other chemistries based on potassium rather than Lithium… For the many of us who have or can install a l2 charger at home the problem is solved. Whether li-ion batteries improve or not in the next decade, one thing is sure: their cost will continue to drop. And most can be very happy to plug-in at home twice a week rather than fill up at the gas station once a week. I know I would.

  6. David Murray says:

    I think he’s right in some aspects. But I think the one he’s wrong about is that better batteries are needed. I am sure the batteries we have now in our second generation EVs are good enough for all future EVs and PHEVs. Will they get better? Sure. What really needs to change is customer expectations and education. I still have a hard time explaining to people that charging time doesn’t matter because you are sleeping, and that hundreds of miles isn’t that important for daily use. I will admit, though, charging infrastructure does need improvement. But that’s nothing to do with the batteries.

    1. arne-nl says:

      A battery has 4 important characteristics:
      1. Energy density
      2. Longevity
      3. Price
      4. Fast charging ability

      On points 1 and 2 I think we have batteries that qualify as ‘good enough’ (although improvements are always helpful).

      On points 3 and 4, some progress still has to be made.

      Can we give a small, cheap car (like a Chevrolet Spark) a 350 km range while keeping the price below $ 15k-ish (without incentives)? No, not yet, but the developments look promising and I think we can reach that benchmark early next decade.

      For better long range capabilities I think we need to improve fast charging by a factor of 3: 0-80% in 10 min, so it almost becomes like filling up a gas car. Why? Because I’m not quite convinced public L2 chargers (‘trickle chargers’) will ever be widespread and hassle-free enough to serve the public without a driveway or garage. These people will resort to familiar modus operandi: drive around until the low-bat light comes on and find a charger to fill up and continue the trip. L2 chargers are expensive infrastructure, doomed to be underutilised (either there is no one there, or the car stays connected for hours and hours after the battery has been charged).

      1. arne-nl says:

        mmm, actually this reply wasn’t meant for you, David, but it can do…

  7. SparkEV says:

    Tech revolution occrus in spurts, not in any trend line. His own LiIon battery revolution is an example of this effect. To think that spending money on research will lead to something better in some predictable fashion is complete nonsense.

    For example, a recent discovery by UC Irvine graduate student in making electrode that can cycle 200K times was discoverted completely by accident (I think she called it “playing around”). While that may not lead anywhere commercially, it does point to what is possible. It does NOT point to what else is possible, which will again be found in some revolutionary spurts, not small steps at a time.

    http://www.computerworld.com/article/3060005/mobile-wireless/scientists-can-now-make-lithium-ion-batteries-last-a-lifetime.html

    As for “sweet spot of 500 miles”, this article is just nonsense. How many people drive 500 miles a day without stopping (wearing diapers?) on a regular basis? It’s like He’s saying these new “cars” need smooth roads while horses can go over rough terrain and narrow trail, so cars will always be a niche.

    ASU’s “School for the Future of Innovation in Society” just got a black eye with this article.

  8. Just_Chris says:

    Do we need better batteries or cheaper ev’s? I have my doubts that we can reach 100% bev’s anytime soon but does that matter? The model 3 is great, but what about a sub $20k car with 150-200 miles. How much of the market could be met with that?

    If a model S cost $50k how much of the market would that take?

    My feeling is we could get to 10-20% market share with today’s technology in the next 5 years. New concepts will arrive but I think the self driving car is closer and more disruptive than a new battery tech.

  9. jmac says:

    After reading the G Pascal Zachary’s entire battery slam article in the IEEE Journal, andd after doing a little investigating, it turns out that Zachary is apparently not really a battery scientist or an actual hands on researcher at all. Neither an electrochemist nor physicist by trade, not even an electrical engineer by trade. Zachary is basically just a pop science writer and cracker barrel philosopher who is not making his living by actually doing science. He just writes about it. Some of Zachary’s background from his own website is listed below:

    “G. Pascal Zachary is a professor of practice at Arizona State University in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society. Zachary joined ASU’s faculty in 2010. He is also affiliate faculty in both English and History, and teaches in the university’s Barrett Honors College. For Barrett, Zachary teaches two interdisciplinary classes at the intersection of science, politics and culture: “Nuclear Weapons and the Making of Modern America,” and “The Quest for Enhanced Consciousness: from the Greeks to Google.” In 2016, Zachary published an essay on the quest for enhanced consciousness in a collection of essays, “Perfecting Human Futures: Transhuman Futures and Technological Visions,” edited by Benjamin Hurlbut and Hava Samuelson.

    Zachary spent 13 years as a senior writer for The Wall Street Journal (1989 to 2001) and authored the Ping column on innovation for The New York Times from 2007 to 2008. He regularly contributes comments on current affairs to radio programs in the U.S., Britain and Africa. He has been interviewed by BBC, NPR’s Marketplace, and Pacifica’s KPFK (Los Angeles). He writes mini-essays for Spectrum magazine on engineering and society, and contributes occasionally to other publications.”

    http://www.gpascalzachary.com/

    Zachary sounds to me like the perfect candidate for employment by a Conservative Think Tank to debunk batteries and the electric car.

    1. Michael Will says:

      Which is why he doesn’t mention http://www.kreiselelectric.com/en/blog/kreisel-electric-builds-factory-upper-austria/ who were able to put 55kWh battery in be space and weight the VW e-Golfs 24kWh battery is in.

    2. Dave86 says:

      Nice work.

      I had a feeling that when we learned more about G. Pascal Zachary that we would feel somewhat underwhelmed, and you proved me right.

      An EV with 500 miles of range and recharges in minutes far exceeds my needs for an only vehicle.

  10. wavelet says:

    …And yet another academic idiot (in the literal sense).
    His language is highly subjective (“aging hit”) and definition of sweet spot is non-standard (500mi? Really? Many consumer cars don’t do 500mi today, and there’s no reason to think that that’s the magic minimum, or that there’s a single minimum at all.)

    All that aside, there’s nothing new here. Most people actively engaged in R&D on it also don’t except any radically new commercial battery within 5 years.
    However, given the huge amount of funding and effort in the space — which has mostly been invested only in the last 10-15 years — it’s highly that some avenues of basic research will yield fruit in the next 5 years, to the point of demos and/or prototypes.
    After that it still takes a few years to commercialize: Tweak the engineering details, iron out bugs, figure out the best charging protocols for these batteries , build appropriate chargers, appropriate thermal-control systems to the extent necessary, run trials on test fleets and only then prepare for mass-production.

  11. Dan Hue says:

    When you read this, “For drivers, the sweet spot is a charge that lasts
    at least 800 kilometers (500 miles) and takes minutes, not hours, to restore.”, you know the author is not serious. Where does that conclusion come from? Probably from the nether regions of his body, I am guessing. He certainly didn’t ask current EV drivers. First off, most regular cars don’t have 500 miles of range. Second, gas cars don’t get to refuel at home. Third, DCFC is proving entirely adequate for most folks, and for those who truly need range and even faster charge, there is always the EREV route, perhaps even fuel cells. Bottom line, ICE vs. EV is not a binary choice. It’s a gradual transition from the former to the latter, and it is underway. Even if the technology only modestly improves from today’s, and given that costs come down a little, there is no reason it can’t succeed.

    1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      It may be 500 miles or 300 or 200, whatever, it depends on charging speed/cost/personal circumstances. But current EV drivers are not authority. They are tiny and biased niche. You should ask regular Joe driving his F-150 to contract work, and refueling it with gas like 99% of the folks, how much work time he is ready to spend at charger assuming he will not get paid for charging time but will need to pay himself.

      1. RCM says:

        It’s really not hard to figure it out, Joe would simply recharge over night while sleeping. Joe wouldn’t need to waste any time charging during the day. Joe would make sure to purchase an EV that suites his needs. When there’s a 200 – 300 mile EV truck on the market that should be plenty of range for any average driver’s daily needs. Sure right now truck people probably aren’t interested in EVs because there’s nothing currently on the market that meets their needs. To say that 500 miles of range would be needed for an EV truck to be practical for Joe is not accurate at all.

      2. Jason says:

        Such professionals also have other tasks that can be relegated to idle priority.
        Communications for instance can be handled during recharges. Not only that, it’s
        inexpensive to hire a licensed electrition install a charge port at each location
        the vehicle will be parked regularly for more than a few minutes.

  12. jmac says:

    Zacharies IEEE article is not even worthy of Pop Science Magazine, let alone IEEE. It’s a superficial, generalized broadside against batteries, electric cars and even battery powered consumer electronics if you read the article carefully.

    None of the numerous avenues for enhanced battery performance currently being studied by actual scientists in the field are discussed or credibly critiqued by Zachary. Even the possibility of any real progress is summarily dismissed by Zachary with a wave of the hand. Or, in this case with a single stroke of Zachary’s pen.

    Ludicrous statements like a minimum 500mi. refueling range being the sweet spot for future battery tech is simply made-up nonsense by Zachary. Hell, my old Chevy pick-up only got 225 mi on a tank of gas.

    This guy is dead wrong and a hugely negative buzz-kill.

    1. Nom de Plume says:

      You are exactly correct, although I disagree about the last part–he’s not going to kill anyone’s buzz, at least nobody whose head isn’t already up their butt.

      I do question the point of publishing his work on this website, though. Why give oxygen to nonsense like this?

  13. Warren says:

    “For now, designing devices that consume as little energy as possible would seem wise”

    Make that now forever, and you get close to our dilemma. Wasting time developing the most efficient SUV is insane.

    The handbasket to hell has AC, and cup holders.

    1. sven says:

      But it doesn’t need AWD, since the road to hell is paved with good intentions. 😈

      1. Jay Cole says:

        I see what you did there…and so it begins, (=

  14. bibou64 says:

    I think that the way we are building cars is conventional, BEV cars are exactly the same as ICE cars : too heavy, too complicated. Is there a way to build real vehicules wich look like this one : http://www.solarteameindhoven.nl/
    400 kg, with a solar array on the roof, in order to have a better efficient vehicle ? cars spend a lot of time on the parking, we need to refuel there…

    1. Warren says:

      Of course they can be made. Small, efficient vehicles have existed as long as we have had vehicles.

      Infrastructure, and policies that encourage their use are the hard part. This is the responsibility of government, which is superbly attuned to our greed and sloth.

    2. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      This one is better:
      http://www.target.com/p/schwinn-mens-or2-28-700c-hybrid-bike-black-green/-/A-15287650
      I use similar one all the time, zero tailpipe emissions and takes much less parking space 😉

      1. Warren says:

        Of course. But we can’t even get people to consider something which is 5 times as fast, requires no effort, has weather protection, and has gone around the world on a fraction of the energy required by any OEM car.

        http://www.evalbum.com/4713

  15. Jake Brake says:

    Really good batteties are coming in gen 3 EVs. 300-400 wh/kg cells should be sufficient to start the downward spiral of ICE.

  16. Bevo says:

    I find it interesting how nay-sayers claim they need ridiculous distances of travel (500+ miles) and complete charging times of mere minutes in order to break from their antiquated technology that’s light years behind. The same folks who would b-tch about not being able to go 600 miles in a charge if 500 were possible. The same folks who would b-tch about the sound on the roof if it was raining gold.

    By the same rationale, it’s like saying I won’t fly across the ocean until I can go from New York to Paris in an hour. So until then I’ll keep taking a boat.

    My buddy and I have a possible scenario: the EV world may just be at it’s zenith right now. For those progressive and smart enough to sharpen their pencils (all us current EV drivers), you can achieve just about all your transportation needs with the current EV technology. And for the time being, I have no problem finding a vacant, FREE charging station whenever I need, free parking when I’m downtown, free access to car pool lanes, etc. Careful what we wish for in terms of main-stream adoption, because all that will be gone. Once the main-stream nay-saying jack-asses flood the roads the glory days of incentives, access to chargers, free charging, will be gone at some point. And we’ll pine for the days when “EV’s just weren’t there yet…”

    1. Speculawyer says:

      I’ll gladly give up my carpool lane access and free charging in exchange for mass EV adoption. I want cleaner air for my lungs and less climate change.

    2. a-kindred-soul says:

      What a funny point of view. But so true. Indeed all my charging is still free, even at home. Since our village doesn’t offer charging and I don’t live on a road, our farmer offers me the electricity. For free. Well, now and then a bottle of wine (this is France). All fast chargers I use are still free and the spots are not occupied yet. And the government offers huge incentives. I DO long distance travel, although it is still close to the limit, so my life is not much different from the one before and no more expensive. But cleaner, quieter, sportier in the curves – happier!

    3. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      I guess you live in California metro area and are out of touch with reality how the rest of the world lives. There are no any useful charging spots or noblemen lanes in most places elsewhere. You can’t provide access to noblemen lanes to everybody, eventually somebody needs to drive in plebeian lanes.

      1. Bevo says:

        I actually live in Reno, NV, far from the California metro you speak of. But I do predict that the mass of nay-sayers that eventually, grudgingly join the growing EV crowd will likely be the most annoying born-agains you’ve ever seen. And while the numbers of us are small enough to grow and understand things like charging etiquette, it’s a culture that likely will be ruined by the ignorant masses- the same folks that today park their ICE in EV charging spots will be the same folks that leave their EVs all day in a high-density area. Am I advocating against mass-adoption? Absolutely not, I’m merely pointing out that the current EV environment is pretty damn cool and has some advantages we won’t likely see again..

    4. Nemo says:

      I’d accept 90 minutes from New York to Paris

      undersea by rail

  17. ItsNotAboutTheMoney says:

    2009 US travel survey: 99% of _one-way_ trips 70 miles or less, which implies round-trips of 140 miles or less. The USA has a high number of VMT per year compared to other countries.

    The implications are pretty clear: the coming generation of BEV will provide enough range to get significant sales.

    Heavy freight and long-distance mass passenger transit for which electric needs significantly improved battery technology, but for private and municipal passenger transportation, cost is far more important.

    1. Warren says:

      Heavy freight and long-distance mass passenger transit are much more efficient using electric rails, not batteries.

  18. Tech01x says:

    Well, he’s likely not wrong about the likelihood of battery tech advances themselves. He’s just parroting what battery industry experts themselves are saying:

    http://www.autoline.tv/show/1833

    Pay attention to what LG Chem’s Patil says about the near term future of batteries. We are likely to get small step improvements rather than big changes.

    Therefore, the near future is still about conserving what we do such that the battery chemistry that we have will work for us. He does go off the rails with the 500 miles, charge in minutes comment. First, we all know that 500 miles of range is not really the standard that EVs should be held against. Also, no only is the charge in minutes not necessary, the advances we are getting in batteries may very well drop charge times down… there are tradeoffs of power density, gravimetric energy density, charge and discharge c-rates, and cost.

  19. a-kindred-soul says:

    This might be one of the results of the Koch Brothers investing into “research” press articles, intended to show that EVs won’t make sense for a long time to go.

    Just look at Dyson buying Sakti3 recently and you know that the solid-state batteries will come to cars after the price has come down because of mass production for (Dyson-) appliances. Maybe it’s not a “leap”, but the effects will be far reaching.

  20. Speculawyer says:

    “Take autos alone. For drivers, the sweet spot is a charge that lasts at least 800 kilometers (500 miles) and takes minutes, not hours, to restore”

    This is the kind of stupidty you get when a person who doesn’t drive an EV writes about EVs.

    He might as well wrtie articles about how MP3s will never be more popular than CDs since they have lower sound quality.

  21. OP> The last great innovation occurred 25 years ago, in 1991, when Sony combined the lithium cobalt oxide cathode of an American, John B. Goodenough, with a carbon anode to create the world’s first commercial rechargeable lithium ion battery.

    Four things are false about this statement:

    Energy density of lithium batteries is much better today than it was in 1991, up to 350w/kg now.

    Today’s batteries are much safer

    Cost has come way down – $145kWh from LG Chem, even less from Panasonic to Tesla.

    Manufacturing volumes are way up.

    Although these steady improvements may not be “breakthroughs” they add up to a completely different opportunity for EVs than existed in 1991.

    As almost every othe poster has noted, the 500 mile claim immediately discredits the author.

    1. ffbj says:

      These days analysis of this sort always seems to be a conclusion supported by argument, rather than arriving at a conclusion through analysis. You never argue against your conclusion with counterarguments.

  22. jmac says:

    Solid State batteries are probably the next battery breakthrough.

    Actually, the future is already here. Cymbet Corp. makes and sells a solid state battery for micro electronics applications as we speak.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvcjhzWfa-U

    Other solid state technologies like Sakti3 appear to be near commercialization. (Dyson Vacuum)

    Solid State Hard drives will likely take over PCs just as flat screen TVs did in world of television.

    The idea that battery technology will remain stagnate while everything else around us advances is ridiculous.

    1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      The idea isn’t that it stagnate, the idea is that we will see small step improvements for long before we will see some revolutionary breakthrough. You may try to attack author’s personality if you don’t like the message, but that is what everybody in the field is saying. Including the Supreme Leader E. M. who at some time noted that he invests in LiOn battery production because he doesn’t expect any revolutionary new technology taking it over for many years.

      Not that it is not possible, but it takes a decade or more to go into production and for prices to drop to levels low enough for cars. E.g. as with TRINA Mg battery electrolyte. Yes, it is breakthrough, but you need another breakthrough for cathode and so on.

  23. Speculawyer says:

    The two main thesis of this article are dead wrong.
    1) “Take autos alone. For drivers, the sweet spot is a charge that lasts at least 800 kilometers (500 miles) and takes minutes, not hours, to restore”-WRONG.
    2) We need a major breakthrough. In battery technology. WRONG! We only need some incremental cost reductions to replace the vast majority of light duty transport. The reductions down to $100/kwh targeted by Tesla & GM/Lzg are enough.

    If you want long haul trucks or planes then breakthroughs are needed but not for light duty transportation.

  24. Speculawyer says:

    The discussion brings up what EVs really need to grow and he didn’t seem to get it: Building codes that require electrical capacity and conduit to easily install chargers at ALL parking spots. THAT is far motre important than a big battery breakthrough.

  25. Doug Bostrom says:

    Resigning ourselves to always carrying around a lot of dead weight for the purpose of infrequent long trips of 500 miles(??) (70% of us are less than 40mpd) seems foolish.

    We’ve been used to one car that will do everything. By accepting that usually much less will do, the physics become a lot more favorable.

    I could see a car with an extra slot for a battery, akin to what we see in laptops (Lenovo “Ultrabay,” etc.)

    1. Doug Bostrom says:

      The point of the slot being to leave a few hundred pounds at home when it’s (usually) not useful. Small battery for routine use, large slot for (rented?) battery for long trips.

      Unfortunately batteries are not coming together the way fuel nozzles did.

      1. D Roberts says:

        that optional slot for longer distance battery use sounds like a good plan. one version of that is already in development with Phinergy.
        http://www.hybridcars.com/renault-nissan-to-use-phinergys-aluminum-air-battery
        Their current plan uses this as APU REX, giving total extended range of >1000miles, not as standalone, but with a lithium ion for normal ranges. I’d like to see this evolve, with infrastructure in parallel to charging station build out.

          1. D Roberts says:

            and speaking of “nothing on the horizon”, it took 1sec to query google with “better batteries than lithium ion” to get this exhaustive list (albeit a pop sci rendition)
            http://www.pocket-lint.com/news/130380-future-batteries-coming-soon-charge-in-seconds-last-months-and-power-over-the-air couple more clicks I’ll bet I could find an ANL study comparing them all.
            • Lithium-air breathing batteries
            • Gold nanowire batteries
            • Magnesium batteries
            • Solid state lithium-ion
            • Fuel cell for phones and drones
            • Graphene car batteries
            • Laser-made microsupercapacitors
            • Sodium-ion batteries
            • Copper Foam batteries
            • Solid-state batteries
            • Nano ‘yolk’
            • Aluminium graphite
            • Ryden dual carbon
            • Organic flow battery, quinone

  26. leafowner says:

    We can now buy a 60 watt LED replacement bulb for a couple bucks….(I bought a 6-pack for $15). 5-6 years ago they cost $50+ each….

    The goal was to get the price to $10 by 2018…

    So if there is enough of a demand – science will make it happen….

  27. ffbj says:

    I wonder if roles were reversed whereas ev were the dominate mode of transportation and ice came along as developed as they are now, who would actually buy one?

  28. Doggydogworld says:

    Just put wires in the highways and drive coast-to-coast with zero recharge time.

  29. Joe says:

    The article “The Search for a Better Battery” is empty.

  30. Texas FFE says:

    Here’s a follow up on the posts I wrote the other day concerning battery replacements. I saw on AutoWeek that Dorman Products sells remanufactured hybrid batteries. They don’t sell remanufactured BEV batteries yet but I would expect them to start soon.

    I checked the NAPA website and found a bunch of replacement batteries for my FFE with prices ranging from $1,700 to over $3,000. Those prices are really low and could be for just one of the two batteries the FFE has. Even at $6,000 to replace the batteries that still a lot lower than the $11,000 I’ve seen listed for the OEM batteries.

    I’m skeptical of what NAPA is offering. There wasn’t any availability of any of the FFE replacement battery packs and no specs on the batteries. Since there are so few battery packs just laying around, you probably have to send your pack in to get remanufactured.

    These are still very promising developments though. Not only does it look like I’m going be able get a reasonably priced replacement battery for my FFE but I should also be able to get a battery pack with cells having a higher amp-hour ratings. These developments are making my look forward to my battery pack wearing out so I can replace it one of greater kWh capacity.

  31. James says:

    After driving an EV for 4 years, I can with a great degree of confidence say that 100-150 real miles is the perfect city car. We don’t take road trips, so I can’t really speak to that.

    I think 500 is absurd, and over 400k people think 200 will be just fine in their Model 3.

  32. Nix says:

    The answer to a plug-in electric vehicle that drives 500 miles and refills in minutes is called a PHEV.

    Done. Solved.

    In fact, the Volt already does 420 miles on gas + electricity, and refills in minutes.

    Why do all these so-called experts all seem to willfully ignore the role of PHEV’s as transitional vehicles while battery technology improves?

    Meanwhile pure EV’s will meet the needs of at least one car in most multi-car households, and there is a market for millions of EV’s as one of the cars in multi-car household.

    There is absolutely no reason at to solve absolutely every problem right now that may exist for every future EV buyer.

  33. goodbyegascar says:

    The radically better battery is already here.

    I can easily recall when a 100-mile range and an overnight recharge were considered enough to someday make BEVs “practical” as daily drivers.

  34. John MB says:

    I just don’t see the professional credentials that the support his ability to accurately assess, evaluate and propose any meaningful conclusions in the field of EV battery technology…

    G. Pascal Zachary is a professor of practice at Arizona State University, where he teaches classes on the future of journalism, American history, innovation systems, writing and reporting. He also lectures on African affairs, and the life and legacy of Vannevar Bush, organizer of the Manhattan Project and a decisive figure in the history of computing and information science.
    Zachary is frequently comments on current events in the media, either through his own commentary articles or in interviews with journalists. Most recently, he has been interviewed by the BBC, Marketplace and Voice of America.

  35. jimstack007 says:

    Tesla is already bring the cost of batteries down. So are many others.
    Tesla already has their Super Charger Network every 100 miles on every major highway.
    Tesla charges at 100kW or more so most only spend 15 minutes at each charger.

    Altair nano has 5 min charging long life titanium anode batteries.
    BlueCar has Super Capacitor -Lithium batteries for more range, longer life faster charging.

  36. Ross Carroll says:

    So if Murphy’s Law is anything to go by we should be expecting a radical breakthrough in battery technology some time soon then?

  37. Scott Franco says:

    All of the article is built suspect premises. Gas cars don’t do 500 miles, and that is a stupid target for an EV. Second, performance of batteries in size/weight is not paramount. We already have 200-300 mile cars with adequate specifications. We need lower cost batteries, and that is a straightforward application of better manufacturing and even mining operations.

  38. Jim Bartley says:

    I haveadiesel wagon thatcan go 1250 km on one tank of 59 litres. That is the length of one of my regular trips one way. It can do it but I can’t. I have to stop at least 4 times for coffee a goodly long stretch and walk and bathroom break..and maybe a snack. So even if the car tank is fink my human tank is not. That business always takes me half anhour. I also have a hybrid that needs to stop at least 3 times on that same trip because it has a small tank…but that is okay as it suits MY needs. Only trouble is it takes astinky 10 minutes to fill pay and move so I have tocut ‘me’ time by 10 minutes in every stop. So an electric like a Tesla 3 that can go 350 km in one go takes 15 seconds to park and plug and adds another 170 miles/280 km in 30 minutes would be just about perfect for me as is now. As long as the car is $35k or a bit less and 350 km in 20 minutes would be nice…but never having to go to another fuel station would make it all worthwhile for me. As is right now. So the idiot article writer is full of bullroar.

  39. G Knowles says:

    Am reminded of the phrase: “When a scientist tells you something is possible then they are almost certainly right. When a scientist tells you something is impossible, they are almost certainly wrong”. Definitionally a radical breakthrough in battery technology is not predictable, if it comes it will be unexpected.