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