Yes, Batteries Are Our Future. Here’s Why.
One of the most important and fundamental technologies which most people take for granted are batteries, without batteries some of the most common technology couldn’t exist such as mobile phone, laptops, electric scooters, and even the 12-volt batteries that run the electronics in a regular car.
In 2019, battery technology is witnessing development at an unprecedented growth rate. In this article, I’ll share how a new industry is emerging from a recent wave of development.
History of Batteries – Baghdad Batteries
Batteries are thought to have been used for thousands of years with the earliest discoveries being the Baghdad batteries believed to be roughly 2,000 years old.
However, the invention of the battery wasn’t recognized until the 1800s when Alessandro Volta debuted his zinc copper battery. In recent times the battery has become crucial to technological advancement. Batteries have also allowed aircraft to go electric.
The main limiting factors from modern batteries are they cost size and storage capacity.
Recent Improvements in Batteries
Tesla’s battery cost has been cut in half and capacity increased by 60℅ between 2008 and 2015. It is also reported that between 2012 and 2017 general battery cell prices fell by 70℅. However, despite the progress, batteries are often seen as not suitable for new technology. Batteries must improve more. However, Improving technology is the hardest thing to do particularly in finding appropriate materials.
Searching for a solution
One issue with renewable energy is storage, electricity can be generated by renewable sources but the production by these sources don’t coincide with the electrical demand of the population. For example, In solar, the Sun sets just as the electricity demand increases when people come home from work. Better batteries will make renewables able to supply more of the electricity demand even if the source isn’t live.
Battery Powered Cities
MIT professor Don Sadoway is trying to do just that patenting a battery to run entire neighborhoods. The company developing the technology is called Ambri and even has Bill Gates as an investor.
What separates Ambri batteries from the rest is that it is the only battery where all three active components are in liquid form both the electrodes the terminals are liquid as well as the Molson solution between them, as a result, the battery has a low cost and a long lifespan. Tesla is also aiming to solve the same problem with a neem giant battery storage facility in California is expected to debut in the near future.
South Australia’s Blackout Issue
The company has already solved South Australia’s blackout issues by installing its battery facilities in under 90 days. The Tesla battery pack was a massive success and performed well possessing the ability to supply a hundred megawatts of power in just 140 milliseconds.
The energy prices for current demand response services went down 90℅ in the first 4 months of operation. Furthermore, the state saved 35 million dollars in that same 4 month period.
How Did All This Happen?
Surprisingly, it all starts with an individual cell small enough to fit in the palm of your hand these are the fundamental building blocks of the massive utility batteries powering cities.
Elon Musk and his team at Tesla saw a unique business opportunity that opened up due to advancing technology you see all they had to do was build an efficient cheap battery cell and scale it up.
It goes something like this, a single battery cell powers something like a vaporizer, a few orders of magnitude more cells powers a car, a few more orders of magnitude above that powers a town and you get the point. Batteries have only just reached the point to make all of this possible it’s such a simple concept but it’s changing the world.
Scaling To Power The World
To pull this all off Tesla needs to make a lot of batteries and the Gigafactory one of the biggest buildings on Earth was built to do it. The company is said to be the largest battery maker in the world.
As battery technologies continue to improve who need drastically fewer batteries to achieve the same scalable power. It’s all pretty cool but even more exciting is the fact that these battery projects are coming online all around the world. Of course, battery tech would also mean that electric vehicles could become more commonplace.
Subsidies for Manufacturers
In order to achieve better batteries in electronic vehicles, China has implemented a policy to provide more subsidies to manufacturers of longer range electronic vehicles. China will subsequently pull back the subsidies on companies that are not producing as long-range batteries as their competitors.
- Currently, lithium-ion batteries are the king of battery technology.
- Here lithium atoms are stored inside of graphite layers inside a cell.
- The lithium atoms lose and regain electrons providing the electrical output.
- Sila nanotechnologies is a company based in California that’s trying to get that breakthrough in lithium-ion technology.
They intend to use microscopic silicon particles to store the lithium inside the battery. Their CEO Jean Berta Kazuki stated “an atom of silicon can store about 20 times more lithium and atoms of carbon”, essentially it takes fewer atoms to store the lithium.
Many companies and research laboratories are looking into this technology but what says still our part is that they claim to have solved the expansion problem, this arises as silicon expands and damages the battery would leads charged.
With this hurdle being overcome a new door has been opened. The new batteries perform up to 40℅ better and charge up to 9 times as fast because of the reduced thickness of the anode. Sila has received 17 million dollars from investors including Samsung and said to launch their products in 2019.
They’re able to do this so quickly because they’re using existing battery manufacturing techniques and have working sellable batteries already.
Aluminium Ion Batteries
Research into aluminum ion batteries have been conducted for several years now, it promises to be safer and cheaper than lithium ion. Lithium-ion batteries have a tendency to explode or catch fire if damaged. You may recall the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 debacle of 2016. Aluminum ion batteries don’t react in the same way and can have a hole drilled into them and still keep running. The cost of the battery in comparison to lithium-ion is also much cheaper as aluminum is the third most abundant element taking up 8.1℅ of the Earth’s crust.
Researchers at Stanford and the University of New South Wales, have both said that Aluminium Ion Batteries is a promising technology but still is in the early days in terms of development and commercial viability.
3.4 million AV batteries expected to be produced by 2025.
What happens to these batteries after we’re done with them. In the case of electric cars, the batteries have a life of ten years. After being taken out from the chassis of the car they can be used for anything from powering cars charging stations to storing energy for homes.
Currently, there’s a joint effort to keep batteries out of landfill.
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I’m Kaushal Jaiswal Founder of Cameo Dreams. The best Educational and Professional Website Because It “Connects Million’s Of Community To Best Things Available On The Internet”.