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Author Topic: What We’re Doing Wrong in the Search for Better Batteries -MIT Technology Review  (Read 828 times)

ZeroPointZero

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I recommend this article and especially the video of the Professors speech, he talks about making batteries using more abundant elements like Aluminum and getting better performance as well...

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602694/what-were-doing-wrong-in-the-search-for-better-batteries/?utm_campaign=internal&utm_medium=readnext&utm_source=item_3
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Doug S

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Interesting stuff, but he seems to only be talking about grid storage. They have an entirely different set of needs than EVs do. In particular, they don't care nearly as much about size and weight of a battery, but they're far more concerned about cost. If they could buy 10kWh batteries the size of cars, weighing thousands of pounds, but only costing $10 each, they leap at the chance. That's never going to work for an EV.
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ZeroPointZero

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I think the point of the article is relevant to EVs, because it focuses on identifying more abundant elements to use in batteries, and getting away from rare earth elements like lithium, which all EVs utilize.  If EVs are going to really become mainstream as we all hope, then the battery technology has to be more sustainable and using liquid aluminum or some other cheaper and more abundant element is vital. 

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mrwilsn

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It was a really interesting video...I watched it twice... but I'm with @Doug S....I found it very curious that he never mentioned ANYTHING about EVs or any other consumer electronics....only grid storage.  And the cells he showed at the end did not seem suitable for an EV.  This is great for grid storage though....and indirectly its good for EVs because it means we won't be competing to buy the same batteries for our cars as for our houses.

I think the point of the article is relevant to EVs, because it focuses on identifying more abundant elements to use in batteries, and getting away from rare earth elements like lithium, which all EVs utilize.  If EVs are going to really become mainstream as we all hope, then the battery technology has to be more sustainable and using liquid aluminum or some other cheaper and more abundant element is vital. 

I agree that his point about making stuff out of dirt to make it dirt cheap....but Lithium is not a rare earth element.  If you look in the video at minute 6:10 he shows a plot of elements and their abundance.  The rare earth elements are colored in blue and Lithium (Li) is not one of them.  Lithium is in the top left and it's one of the elements he circles when he talks about using abundant resources.



Lithium is one of the most abundant resources on the planet....we haven't even touched the reserves in ocean water which is where we find the vast majority of Lithium.  Identified lithium land resources are about 13 million tons (the sum of the lithium content in ores and brines) while Seawater contains 230 billion tons of lithium in total.

Lithium is also very attractive because it has a higher max voltage than any other element  (4.5V max) and it's one of the lightest elements as well compared to other potential elements that can be used for a battery.  The cost of the raw Lithium is not a major driver of the cost of a Lithium battery.

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MrDude_1

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Lithium is one of the most abundant resources on the planet....we haven't even touched the reserves in ocean water which is where we find the vast majority of Lithium.  Identified lithium land resources are about 13 million tons (the sum of the lithium content in ores and brines) while Seawater contains 230 billion tons of lithium in total.

Lithium is also very attractive because it has a higher max voltage than any other element  (4.5V max) and it's one of the lightest elements as well compared to other potential elements that can be used for a battery.  The cost of the raw Lithium is not a major driver of the cost of a Lithium battery.

I agree with everything you said.. but I think the root of the "problem" is much simpler.  People hear "Lithium battery" and think it requires alot of "Lithium" without even knowing what it is... so they just associate it with everything related to Lithium batteries.  They assume we dont have tons of Lithium batteries for EVs and that they're expensive because of Lithium.
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Doug S

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The terminology doesn't help, either. Chemists group lithium with the "rare earth" metals, but it actually isn't particularly rare. The chart Mr Wilson pasted shows it's less abundant than aluminum or silicon, but that isn't saying much.

IIRC it's also highly recyclable. All those spent lithium batteries can go right back to the refinery to be reused, just like aluminum cans.
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ZeroPointZero

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It was a really interesting video...I watched it twice... but I'm with @Doug S....I found it very curious that he never mentioned ANYTHING about EVs or any other consumer electronics....only grid storage.  And the cells he showed at the end did not seem suitable for an EV.  This is great for grid storage though....and indirectly its good for EVs because it means we won't be competing to buy the same batteries for our cars as for our houses.

I think the point of the article is relevant to EVs, because it focuses on identifying more abundant elements to use in batteries, and getting away from rare earth elements like lithium, which all EVs utilize.  If EVs are going to really become mainstream as we all hope, then the battery technology has to be more sustainable and using liquid aluminum or some other cheaper and more abundant element is vital. 

I agree that his point about making stuff out of dirt to make it dirt cheap....but Lithium is not a rare earth element.  If you look in the video at minute 6:10 he shows a plot of elements and their abundance.  The rare earth elements are colored in blue and Lithium (Li) is not one of them.  Lithium is in the top left and it's one of the elements he circles when he talks about using abundant resources.



Lithium is one of the most abundant resources on the planet....we haven't even touched the reserves in ocean water which is where we find the vast majority of Lithium.  Identified lithium land resources are about 13 million tons (the sum of the lithium content in ores and brines) while Seawater contains 230 billion tons of lithium in total.

Lithium is also very attractive because it has a higher max voltage than any other element  (4.5V max) and it's one of the lightest elements as well compared to other potential elements that can be used for a battery.  The cost of the raw Lithium is not a major driver of the cost of a Lithium battery.



Yeah I wasnt paying enough attention to the professors chart  ;D  I guess in terms of economies of scale, aluminum is going to be cheaper than lithium for grid storage.  Youre right about noncompeting technologies for EV and Grid, however, there is a trade off in terms of tech advancement by not having a standardized battery tech.  But the grid mostly runs on coal right now, and ICE's run on petroleum and costs intervene when taking transportation into consideration.  So 20 years in the future, grid storage could use aluminum and EVs could run on Lithium or Magnesium or whatever, and the costs of both can be interdependent like coal and petroleum are now, Ill be it far cheaper and more eco friendly.   
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 10:55:24 PM by ZeroPointZero »
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mrwilsn

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I agree with everything you said.. but I think the root of the "problem" is much simpler.  People hear "Lithium battery" and think it requires alot of "Lithium" without even knowing what it is... so they just associate it with everything related to Lithium batteries.  They assume we dont have tons of Lithium batteries for EVs and that they're expensive because of Lithium.

Haha...I am reminded of LED and LCD TVs.  Most people don't understand that they are both LCD TVs, just an LED TV uses LEDs as the light source....but then there's OLED....I'll stop  :-[

I blame mostly marketing, deliberate misinformation and deliberate withholding of information.  When I talk to people that aren't familiar with the technology I try to always keep things simple by just saying 'Lithium Battery' or 'Lithium Ion Battery' rather than 'Lithium Cobalt Oxide', 'Lithium Sulpher' or 'Lithium Iron Phosphate' etc.  Not that any of these titles accurately describe everything that goes into a battery.  In a way, this also contributes so I share some of the blame.  It can just be too much for a lot of people to grasp.  Eventually, this won't be the case and all this EV stuff will seep into the mainstream consciousness.  People will forget about gallons and mpg and kWh and Wh/mi will just roll off tongues.  We've got a ways to go  :'(

According to Battery University a $10,000 Lithium battery only has about $100 of Lithium.

IIRC it's also highly recyclable. All those spent lithium batteries can go right back to the refinery to be reused, just like aluminum cans.

Good point.  Once we have isolated the Lithium from some source, be it ores, brines or seawater, it's ours forever! My precious...

In the end, I think diversity is key.  Lithium by itself can't do it all.  Neither can Aluminum, Sodium, etc.  We need different solutions for different problems.  The best battery for your car can look different than the best battery for your laptop, which can be different than the best battery for an implanted heart monitor and something totally different for the grid.

One thing I feel very confident in saying...we will never find one battery to rule them all...and that's a good thing.  Same can be said on the generation side of the house.  Having more than one way to generate electricity is good.

Yeah I wasnt paying enough attention to the professors chart  ;D  I guess in terms of economies of scale, aluminum is going to be cheaper than lithium for grid storage.  Youre right about noncompeting technologies for EV and Grid, however, there is a trade off in terms of tech advancement by not having a standardized battery tech.  But the grid mostly runs on coal right now, and ICE's run on petroleum and costs intervene when taking transportation into consideration.  So 20 years in the future, grid storage could use aluminum and EVs could run on Lithium or Magnesium or whatever, and the costs of both can be interdependent like coal and petroleum are now, Ill be it far cheaper and more eco friendly.   

I think it's too early to do too much standardization of batteries.  Form, fit, function...sure.  But I would hate to see us get entrenched in a specific chemistry before we have gotten a lot closer to the theoretical potentials.  Then again...that's what we're good at.  Exhibit A: Gasoline. Exhibit B: Coal.

In any case, I truly do believe we will get there eventually....hopefully sooner rather than later.....and I hope this guy's batteries are a hit with the grid storage crowd.
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