why it’s so difficult to move battery tech beyond lithium ion?


It’s pretty commonly accepted that our current lithium ion battery technology is a huge limiting factor in a number of technological areas from electric vehicles to phones, computers, and beyond. With so many massive corporations and governments that have such a large incentive to improve the technology, why are we still stuck with lithium ion?

In: 0

Why do you think we’re stuck with it?

We’ve gone from Nickle Cadmium batteries to Nickle-metal Hydride batteries in the 90s to Lithium ion batteries in the 2000s.

Even within batteries you know as lithium ion there are a bunch of different chemistries. There are 5 common cathode options and 5 common anodes each with benefits towards energy capacity, lifespan, or peak discharge rate

Just because the consumer facing name hasn’t changed doesn’t mean that the actual thing hasn’t gotten better

We’re not “stuck with lithium ion”, it just happens to be what’s in widespread use right now. That doesn’t mean it’s the pinnacle of battery technology. Right now, companies are working on making both aluminum ion and graphene batteries commercially viable. Those both have advantages over lithium ion and will help expand electrification.

Solid state batteries already exist, and will be available to the public soon. Toyota plans to release its first consumer-facing solid state batteries in 2025. It uses fluoride instead of lithium.

Batteries are getting so energy dense that tiny defects can cause them to quite literally explode. Lithium is an insanely reactive element. That reactivity is where the energy is stored, essentially. On our path to newer and better batteries, we must be excessively careful to make appropriate standards for production and packaging before they can become consumer viable.

There’s also a big focus on volume right now. Lithium batteries don’t scale up so well. To power a city grid using a source like solar that is not constant, we need to store insane amounts of energy during the day to use at night. You can’t store that in lithium batteries and be cost-effective and safe. Some places literally use an elevated lake or pond to store gravitational potential energy. That’s a battery that can scale up very well. So a lot of research is going into that sort of thing which might be taking away from the speed at which new advancements in consumer tech are reached.