How Long Will It Take for Next-Gen Batteries to Arrive?

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Most mar­ket ana­lysts say that the long-term suc­cess of elec­tric vehi­cles will depend upon mar­ket access to depend­able, long-last­ing, long range, more afford­able bat­ter­ies. The U.S. Dept. of Ener­gy thinks the next gen­er­a­tion of usable bat­tery tech­nol­o­gy is still 10 years away. The “10 years from now” fore­cast is com­mon­ly used to describe tech­nol­o­gy advance­ments of all shapes and sizes. Since next-gen bat­ter­ies are a long ways out, lithi­um-ion bat­ter­ies will play a crit­i­cal tran­si­tion­al role. Tony Han­cock, of the DOE’s Argonne Bat­tery Man­u­fac­tur­ing Research and Devel­op­ment Cen­ter, says that the cur­rent lithi­um-ion bat­tery chem­istry still has room for improve­ment, and can use these avail­able tech­nolo­gies to meet mar­ket needs. Still, li-ion bat­tery improve­ments will be years from now, so there’s no sin­gle, sim­ple solu­tion.

Li-ion bat­ter­ies will be the solu­tion for the next decade or so, but improve­ment to the bat­ter­ies are high­ly antic­i­pat­ed for reduc­ing the cost of pro­duc­tion. The volatil­i­ty of the battery’s chem­istry is a con­cern, and researchers say that some com­pa­nies could skip safe­ty stan­dards in order to reduce costs more quick­ly. More ener­gy-dense bat­ter­ies are need­ed, such as lithi­um-sodi­um bat­ter­ies, with sodi­um being more abun­dant than lithi­um-ion or lithi­um-air tech­nol­o­gy.

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