It seems there’s news of a battery breakthrough every week. I’ve learned to temper expectations, because so many “breakthroughs” turn out to be dead ends. Because it’s not enough for a battery to be incredibly light, or made of abundant materials, or last for ten thousand cycles. It needs to be good at many things and at least okay at most things.
• How much capacity per dollar?
• How much capacity per kilogram?
• How much capacity per litre?
• How quickly can it be charged?
• How quickly can it be discharged?
• How much energy is lost between charging and discharging?
• How predisposed is it to catching fire?
• How available are the materials needed to manufacture it?
• How available are the tools/skills required to manufacture it?
• How resilient is it to mechanical stress, e.g. vibration?
• How much does performance degrade per cycle?
• How much does performance degrade when stored at a high state of charge?
• How much does performance degrade when stored at a low state of charge?
• How much does performance drop at high temperatures?
• How much does performance drop at low temperatures?
• How well can it be recycled at end-of-life?
A sufficiently bad answer for any one of these could utterly exclude it from contention as an EV battery. A battery which scores well on everything except mechanical resilience is a non-starter, for example. Though it might be great for stationary storage.
I’m only a layperson and this list is what I came up with just a few minutes of layperson thought. I’m sure someone with more familiarity with battery technology could double the length of this list. But the point is, when you daydream about some hypothetical future battery tech, you need to appreciate just how well today’s lithium chemistries score in so many areas.