The science and technology of vastly better batteries can be very confusing. Lithium Metal and hybrid lithium batteries and many other battery chemistries. Nextbigfuture simplifies it. The batteries are getting a lot better and the technologies pursued by Tesla will be mass-produced in larger quantities and lower cost than current batteries. The batteries are improving faster than analysts have predicted in the past and improved batteries are not fully included in estimates of total terawatt-hours of battery production in 2030. The estimates of battery production are based on capacities of battery factories based upon current technology.
What does this mean?
Batteries will get over four times better in energy density and costs. Instead of 30-40% of new vehicles becoming electric by 2030, there will be 100% of new vehicles becoming electric before 2030. The performance and specifications will not just match combustion gas cars but will be vastly better.
The battery performance will be so good that new applications like large passenger planes will become electric with superior range. However, these projects for adapting and creating new technology that is borderline feasible will take longer.
Electric cars, bikes, buses and trucks are already being commercialized. There are already dozens of battery gigafactories. Some of gigafactories are Tesla and some are CATL, LG, Panasonic and others. There will be dozens of terawatt hour battery factories.
The Battery Technology
There is interesting new lithium metal and hybrid lithium metal battery technology from researchers allied with Tesla. These batteries could two to ten times the energy density of current lithium ion batteries. They could have 500 watt hours per kilogram to 2600 watt-hours per kilogram. There are also massive gains and improvements from changing the anode or having batteries that work without anodes. Tesla filed a patent for lithium metal batteries with anode-free cells. This has 75 charging cycles but could attain 2600 watt-hours per kilogram.
Here are the key points that I see.
These advances are primarily lithium based technologies. Previously, the advanced batteries that people imagined were lithium-sulfur or solid state batteries. Tesla is focusing on achieving battery gains with technologies that are more compatible with their factories and supply chain.
Tesla is spending about $1.34 billion on research and development. There does not seem to be a breakdown of how much is being spent on artificial intelligence, battery cell research and factory improvements. Tesla is spending a lot of research for critical development of improved batteries and battery management. This is likely far more than the $33 million for the DOE battery projects.
There are projections from Benchmark Minerals that lithium battery production could reach 6 terawatt-hours per year.
New Batteries with higher energy density would mean more electric vehicles with acceptable could be produced per ton of lithium. The current best drive trains and Tesla software enable 5 miles of range per kilowatt hour of battery storage.
Higher energy density can mean lighter battery packs which can convert to longer vehicle range with the same energy.
If four times the energy density batteries could be produced (over 1000 watt hours per kilogram) then this could increase the number of acceptable range vehicles that could be made with the same supply of lithium. This could mean the 2030 projection would be 24 terawatt hours of batteries per year. Let us assume that production ends up higher and the increased battery goes for utility storage and consumer applications.
This could also be combined with software, weight and drivetrain improvements that enable 8 miles of range per kilowatt hour of battery storage.
This would be 200 billion miles of electric vehicle range per year. This would be 1 billion 200 mile range vehicles or 500 million 400 mile range vehicles. However, there will be no compromise vehicles with superior range. 200 million vehicles with an average of 1000 mile range.
There are about 100 million new cars and trucks produced each year. Electric battery vehicles could replace all new vehicles even if the number of new cars and trucks per year doubled. There would be extra battery supply to replace semi trucks and buses.
The higher 1000+ watt hour per kilogram batteries would also enable highly competitive electric jet planes. The electric jet planes could fly at higher altitudes with less air resistance.
There would be electrification of trains.
SOURCES- Hyperchange, Casgain Academy, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, Tesmanian, Cell Journal, Tesla
Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com (Brian Wang owns shares of Tesla).