Tuesday, May 2, 2017

All you need to know about batteries: in a dozen tweets.

I've been told that my blog posts are very long.  I have been known to retort that no one reads anything anymore.  After a few years of going back and forth on this I have come to the conclusion that if you can't best them, join them.  

Research (an euphemism for "made up") suggests that the human brain can't take more than 140 characters.  So here goes.  A summary of batteries in a dozen bite-sized tweets: 

Guess which battery will power most phones, EVs, and home solar in 2025?  A lithium battery. Yes. Really. Good luck new chemistries.

A battery fire is a feature…in Antarctica. For the rest, so wish we had new chemistries.  Water, where art thou? Hate flammable electrolytes.

Lead-acid (yes, that old dog), will destroy Li-ion for grid storage. Oh ya… there is that sulfation thing to solve. 

The 2017 Li-ion battery is not your grandfathers one.  It is oh, so different on the inside. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

Is there a solid-state battery in your EV future?  Not unless you are less than 50 years old (assumption: life expectancy=70). I made it.

EV battery roadmap: High voltage then silicon, then Li metal, sulfur, (oxygen?), Mg (Al?). After that? Aliens tech. Or maybe fluorine.  

Grid battery roadmap: Li-ion or lead-acid or flow or sodium or Zinc or... Who knows. Confused? So is everyone else. Except the aliens.

Hear about an amazing breakthrough in batteries? Safely ignore it. The inventors did when they violated a few laws of nature. 

All battery companies will claim to drive cost to less than $100/kWh sometime in the future. Even if they make the battery out of solid gold.  

Performance of any battery will fall (just) short of expectations irrespective of the complexity of the device it is powering.

Pull the plug. Your battery will thank you.  And don’t use the wrong rules for the wrong battery. Memory effect is so 1995.   

It takes 10 years and $250M to start a battery company. Unless you are in China. Then it takes 1 year and $50M. Gotta love incentives.



  1. So John Goodenough's solid state battery announcement is a farce?

  2. Can I just say that this is exactly why tweeting does not work. No way to get at the subtleties. I;m going back to blogging :-)

    Randy: I'm not making any judgement on his work. However, there are some realities in batteries that will remain true even if you are John G. Once you have a discovery, you have to scale it, prove the cycle life is real devices (rather than in test cells),show that there is a cost effective process to integrate it, deal with the fact that integration may suggest you need equipment that is not sold in any large volumes by anyone, deal with every possible test one can subject the battery to including a drop test that could lead the battery to crack and testing seal integrity when moving Li back and forth and the resulting cell volume change, decide what the first market will be, if the advantages really pan out in the real world. And I'm probably missing a few steps, including, deciding how to make a real business (one that makes money rather than spends money) with the discovery.

    Sometime in the future. 20 years? 15? We can argue. But not tomorrow. Changing this (all this) is what we ought to be talking about. Without that, they will not be a product.

  3. I read your blogs! Keep them up! :)

    1. I have always maintained that I have seven regular readers on this blog. I have heard from 3 that have told me that I should not stop blogging. One more and I will say that the majority wins :-)

    2. Venkat - you have my vote. I think you should keep going even if you happen to only post once in a while.

    3. You might be up to eight readers! :) Definitely do continue blogging, I always enjoy reading your posts and love the insight they contain!

  4. Dr. G's announcement isn't a farce. It's early like many other developments. My colleague and I are early stage with a 100% inorganic electrolyte.