The Race to Develop Cheaper, More Efficient Batteries
On Monday, June 22, 24M, a lithium-ion battery startup led by the MIT-based scientist Yet-Ming Chiang, announced that it has solved “the critical, decades-old challenge associated with the world’s preferred form of energy storage” — the challenge that, as Elon Musk and so many others have put it, “batteries suck.”
Over the last 50 years, computers have gone from filling an entire room to squeezing into a device smaller than a deck of playing cards. Batteries, however, have improved slowly and incrementally, limited by the physical realities of the chemical reactions inside the battery itself. (Ions may not take up much space, but they do take up some.) There have been no “Moore’s Law”-style exponential breakthroughs in terms of how powerful batteries are, how much energy they can store, or how much they cost.
24M says it has made breakthroughs in battery design and manufacturing techniques that will bring manufacturing costs down to $100 per kilowatt-hour by 2020 (about half the current price). This $100 per kilowatt-hour target is the holy grail to battery people. At that price, an electric car could compete on the sales floor for roughly as much as a gasoline-powered one; laptops and cellphones could run for days without recharging; and we would all walk hand in hand into a renewable energy utopia, more or less.
You can read more on the Grist website here.