In 1883, Thomas Edison warned that chasing the perfect battery is a fool’s journey: “a catchpenny, a sensation, a mechanism for swindling the public by stock companies,” he wrote. Working on the latest, greatest battery brings out a man’s “latent capacity for lying.”
This is true to some extent – the amount of materials improvements that are required to make the sum total of all the elements of a battery better in order to increase its capacity is tough!
That leads to situations like are described in this very hard hitting report by Scorpion Capital on QuantumScape.
In Battery materials – very small samples behave differently than bulk materials which is where a lot of properties break down. This is the reason why Elon Musk famously said that 99% of battery material science exists in scaling up production. Things just do not work that easily from lab scale to pilot scale, from pilot scale to large scale production scale.
Scorpion Capital has published a highly critical piece on QuantumScape.
While QuantumScape should be praised and lauded for its bravery in developing all solid state batteries, the battery and material science space is EXTRAORDINARILY TOUGH to drive the growth of materials properties northwards in.
For example Capacitance of a Capacitor – it was extraordinarily tough to drive the properties of the materials northwards – there may have been a thousand tricks to try – making holes in the materials, increasing surface area and then trying again – however none of the chemical methods to increase the materials properties were to be ever considered low hanging fruit. In fact it takes a careers worth of work in one direction or on one system to actually make a dent in it.
This is also the reason a lot of the energy companies that are promoting materials properties from bottom up will not be able to reach scale at all. Material science is tough-technology.