Energy storage has become a centerpiece of the technology that supports sustainability. From hybrid vehicles to solar energy storage and much more, battery technology is advancing.
Advancements include better materials, the structure and properties of such materials, the density of energy storage in battery cells, the amount of time required to charge batteries and the range of service from one charge of a battery. But this is only a small slice of the developments underway. There are many more to come. Some are in testing but others are ready for prime time.
Longer power range per charge
BMW’s iX test vehicle has tried out Michigan startup Our Next Energy’s innovative dual-chemistry Gemini battery with much success, achieving 608 miles of range in a test. The Gemini is different from conventional batteries that rely on a single chemistry. Instead, its dual chemistry splits the battery pack into two distinct sections. One section consists of lithium-iron-phosphate cells, which contributes about 150 miles of range—enough to accommodate most daily driving needs. The other section has high-density, anode-free lithium-ion technology, which adds about 450 miles to the total range. It could be a winner, as the race is on for auto manufacturers to develop better batteries.
Another significant development is the decline in the underlying cost of battery technology—especially for electric vehicles. Key influences to declining cost include advancements in manufacturing processes, economies of scale and improvements in battery chemistry. Projections indicate the cost per kilowatt-hour for EV batteries will drop significantly, making EVs more affordable and competitive with traditional internal combustion engine vehicles.
Declining costs come from innovations in production techniques, streamlined supply chains and increased production volumes, fostering a more cost-effective environment for battery manufacturing. This trend aligns with the broader goal of accelerating the global transition to sustainable transportation by making EVs more accessible to a wider consumer base.
Goldman Sachs research forecasts a hefty decline in EV battery prices. An article on Goldman Sachs’ website prognosticates “battery prices to fall to $99 per kilowatt hour of storage capacity by 2025—a 40% decrease from 2022 (the previous forecast was for a 33% decline). Our analysts estimate that almost half of the decline will come from declining prices of EV raw materials such as lithium, nickel, and cobalt. Battery pack prices are now expected to fall by an average of 11% per year from 2023 to 2030.”
The potential effect of low battery costs on the automotive industry is significant. EV adoption is on an upward trajectory, while gasoline-powered vehicles are being phased out. As battery prices continue to decrease, it is expected that EVs will become more economically viable, marking a significant milestone in the global shift toward cleaner and more sustainable transportation solutions. The developments in battery technology for the automotive industry should spill over into other uses for energy storage and battery technology overall.
Material innovation and availability
While many developments are moving the utility of battery technology forward, battery production continues to face challenges due to the raw materials.
For example, Indonesia and the United States are trying to forge a partnership in nickel production—a crucial component in EV batteries. Indonesia holds a significant share of the world’s nickel reserves. It plans to lead in supplying the global nickel market, and seeks collaboration with U.S. companies to establish a nickel supply chain that can meet the growing demand for EVs.
The intent for partnership aligns well with the Biden administration’s efforts to secure a stable supply of critical minerals for the United States. It is one link that could help battery supply chain vulnerabilities and strengthen the strategic position of both countries in the rapidly evolving landscape of electric mobility.
Just as solutions for natural resource supply are being worked, new material innovations are also underway, with developments sprouting up that could aid the materials equation for battery technology production.
For example, researchers are investigating whether carbon black extracted from used tires can offer a sustainable, cost-effective alternative to traditional graphite in lithium-ion batteries. Carbon black has similar electrical properties to graphite but is more abundant and could reduce the environmental impact of battery production. While the research is in its early stages, the use of recycled materials aligns with the broader push for sustainability in the EV industry, addressing resource scarcity and waste management concerns.
There are numerous facets to the developing technology and materials used for batteries. Technology is advancing as the pursuit of improvements is in full swing. This quest may be driven by the EV and automotive industry; however, its benefit will likely be recognized by many industries and applications where energy storage and battery technology are used.
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About The Author
ROMEO is a freelance writer based in Chesapeake, Va. He focuses on business and technology topics. Find him at www.JimRomeo.net.