Why This Matters
Batteries are critical for powering many of our everyday technologies. Increased demand in areas such as transportation and electric grid storage will require longer-lasting batteries with more capacity. Scientific advances in batteries could meet the demand for more energy storage while also ensuring these next-generation batteries are safe, cost-effective, and sustainable. However, challenges remain.
What is it?
A battery is an energy storage device that consists of a chemical solution called an electrolyte and a separator that serves as a barrier between two terminals—an anode and a cathode. During use, the electrolyte allows the flow of charged particles, such as lithium ions, from the anode to the cathode. This produces an electric current that flows out of the battery to a device through an external circuit. Charging the battery reverses this process. Different applications, such as electric vehicles or electric grid storage, require different battery properties—such as size, weight, portability, or duration of use—each of which comes with trade-offs.
Figure 1. Example of How Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Batteries Work During Use
Most current battery research focuses on lithium-based systems, which can store a lot of energy in a small volume and undergo many charging cycles. According to the American Chemical Society, lithium-ion batteries will make up 70 percent of the rechargeable battery market by 2025. The lithium supply would need to increase to meet this demand, prompting efforts to develop advanced battery technologies that use more earth-abundant materials and reduce reliance on foreign-produced materials.
How does it work?
Scientists are exploring how to replace critical elements in various components of lithium-ion batteries to improve their performance and safety while using more sustainable, widely-available, and cost-effective materials. For example, the standard material used for the anode of lithium-ion batteries is graphite—the same flaky carbon material used in pencils. However, silicon is a cheap and more readily available material that is safer and can potentially store 10 times as much lithium by weight.
Alternative cathode materials are also being tested for lithium-ion batteries. For example, different metal oxides are typically used in the cathode to interact with the lithium and give the battery different traits. Alternatively, lithium-sulfur batteries contain a sulfur-based cathode that reacts with lithium ions to form lithium sulfide, which could allow cells to store 5 times as much energy as a conventional lithium-ion battery. Sulfur is an abundant element that can be mined in the U.S. This makes it a more sustainable alternative to other commonly used metals in lithium-ion battery cathodes, such as cobalt, which is costly and may come from overseas mines with controversial labor or mining practices.
Another advancement replaces the typically liquid electrolyte—which can be flammable and can catch fire when overheated—with safer, more stable materials. For example, using a solid electrolyte such as a ceramic or glassy material may prevent the build-up of lithium salt crystals that can short the battery’s circuit and cause fires. These solid-state batteries have the potential to store twice the energy of conventional lithium-ion batteries, increasing how long the battery can work before it needs to be recharged.
Lithium-ion batteries are generally limited to short duration use. Rechargeable metal-air batteries and flow batteries may allow for longer storage duration, which could provide advantages in storing intermittent energy produced from renewable sources for use when needed. Metal-air batteries use a metal anode paired with a porous cathode to allow oxygen flow from the surrounding air. Because one terminal is porous, these batteries are lighter than conventional batteries. Researchers have investigated a variety of metals—such as aluminum, lithium, sodium, tin, and zinc—for potential use. Each comes with different advantages and disadvantages. For example, the aluminum-air battery is lightweight, recyclable, made of common materials, and cheap, but is difficult to recharge due to a tendency to corrode.
Unlike standard rechargeable batteries, flow batteries store liquid electrolytes in external tanks. Because there is no size limit for external tanks, the storage capacity of the flow battery can be scaled up as needed. This makes them ideal for storing large amounts of energy for the grid but less useful in portable applications like electric vehicles.
Figure 2. Example of How Flow Batteries Work for a Grid Application
One of the most advanced flow batteries uses vanadium ions in the electrolyte. Vanadium is costly and scarce; however, vanadium's ions are stable and can be cycled through the battery over and over without undergoing unwanted side reactions, theoretically providing unlimited storage. However, vanadium batteries cannot store a lot of energy in a small volume, thus requiring large external tanks to hold enough power to be useful. Researchers are investigating a variety of chemistries for flow batteries—including zinc-bromine, which uses low-cost, easily accessible materials.
How mature is it?
Advances in lithium-ion batteries are in various stages of research, but none are currently in commercial use for electric vehicles or grid storage. Batteries with sulfur-based cathodes, silicon-based anodes, and solid electrolytes are all in the pilot phase for transportation applications, with the latter two being piloted for use in electric vehicles. Batteries with silicon-based anodes are only commercially available in small electronics.
Non-rechargeable metal-air batteries can be found in devices such as hearing aids; however, currently no rechargeable metal-air battery chemistry has reached large-scale commercialization. Much of flow battery chemistry research has been conducted on a small scale in labs; however, flow batteries are used commercially for several grid and storage applications—including in the U.S., Japan, and Australia.
- Advanced batteries could be key to moving away from fossil fuels for transportation and power generation. For example, they could help the grid store larger amounts of intermittent energy from renewable sources for use during times when weather conditions do not produce sufficient energy or a surge of energy is needed.
- An increase in battery capacity and the number of charging cycles through advanced battery technologies could help electric vehicles travel further between charges and increase battery lifespan.
- Advanced batteries can be designed to use materials that are more abundant or domestically produced, reducing U.S. reliance on costly materials with potential supply chain issues or national security risks—such as lithium or vanadium.
- Start-up costs for manufacturing advanced battery technologies are high.
- Regulations can vary by jurisdiction, presenting a challenge for companies operating in multiple locations.
- Most batteries have limited lifespans, and currently there is limited technology or infrastructure to address recycling or disposal.
Policy Context and Questions
- What types of research could policymakers encourage on the potential use of advanced battery technologies to support renewable energy sources and provide reserves when energy demand is high?
- How could policymakers encourage possible uses of advanced battery technologies, including for electric vehicles and electric grid storage?
- What steps could federal or state agencies take if they wanted to support use of these technologies across multiple jurisdictions with varying regulatory requirements?
- What steps could policymakers take if they wanted to incentivize or operationalize battery recycling and reuse processes on an industrial scale?
For more information, contact Karen L. Howard at (202) 512-6888 or HowardK@gao.gov.
What is the trillion dollar holy grail of battery technology? ›
The new type of battery I am working on — the lithium metal battery — is the “holy grail” of battery technology because it could provide the highest possible energy density, potentially double that of lithium-ion batteries. This means we could get double the mileage of an EV on a single charge.What is the holy grail of EV batteries? ›
Solid-state batteries were heralded as the "holy grail of batteries" — their solid-state core is the perfect complement to solid-state electronics — in the Technology Outlook 2030 report by market research firm DNV (Det Norske Veritas, which means "the Norwegian truth").Can we make enough EV batteries? ›
While the world does have enough lithium to power the electric vehicle revolution, it's less a question of quantity, and more a question of accessibility. Earth has approximately 88 million tonnes of lithium, but only one-quarter is economically viable to mine as reserves.What is the new battery technology 2023? ›
Researchers Design Battery Prototype With Fiber-Shaped Cathode. Apr. 24, 2023 — In a new study, researchers made a cathode, or the positive end of a battery, in the shape of a thread-like fiber. The researchers were then able to use the fiber to create a zinc-ion battery ...What battery did Bill Gates invest in? ›
Why Bill Gates invested in this tiny start-up that helps turn lithium into batteries. Bill Gates' investment fund Breakthrough Energy Ventures recently invested $10 million in a seven-person start-up with no revenue and no customers, Mangrove Lithium.What company holds the patent for the forever battery? ›
In late 2021, QuantumScape illustrated that its forever battery performed in 4-layer formats up to 800 charging cycles. A quarter later, the company scaled successful results to 10-layer batteries up to 800 cycles.Who is the second biggest battery EV? ›
CATL's most recent battery, called Qilin, has an energy density of 255 Wh/kg and can power an electric vehicle for 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) on one charge. Chinese EV battery manufacturer CATL has developed its most powerful unit that promises range of 1,000 kms on a single charge.Who is the world's largest producer of EV batteries? ›
CATL, the world's biggest maker of EV batteries, plans to start mass production of the new cell, which will mainly be used initially for cars, this year, and critically at a lower energy density than the 500 Wh/kg it claims it can reach for aircraft.Will charging my EV to 100% really damage the battery? ›
In simple terms, charging an EV battery to 100% will lead to a reduction in the total usable capacity of the battery. It might not be noticeable at first, but your battery will gradually lose its range as it degrades over time.
Will we ever run out of lithium? ›
U.S. geological survey the world is getting better at mining battery metals including lithium. As of 2021, it was estimated that the world had 88 million tonnes of lithium resources.How many years of lithium is left? ›
FastMarkets corroborates Lowry and Global Lithium's fears, but indicates that supply would collapse by 2026.What battery will replace lithium? ›
Researchers at Vienna University of Technology have developed an oxygen-ion battery based on ceramic materials that has a longer lifespan than lithium-ion batteries.Is an electric car cheaper in the long run? ›
The 2021 study compared vehicles of multiple sizes and found that while the total cost of ownership over 15 years is similar between electric vehicles and their gas-powered counterparts, electric vehicles are slightly cheaper to operate per mile.Where does Elon Musk get his lithium batteries? ›
Tesla is currently working with Japanese company Panasonic, its longtime partner, as well as South Korea's LG Energy Solutions, the second largest battery supplier in the world. They supply the EV maker with cells containing nickel and cobalt.What is the newest battery technology? ›
The US Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory has developed a lithium-air battery that could significantly increase the range of electric vehicles. The new design could one day replace lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries, and power cars, domestic airplanes and long-haul trucks.Does Elon Musk have a battery factory? ›
Elon Musk's electric car company Tesla says it is expanding in China as it builds a new factory to make its large-scale batteries. The plant in Shanghai will be able to produce 10,000 of its "Megapack" energy storage units a year, the firm says.What small company is making the forever battery? ›
In late 2021, QuantumScape illustrated that its forever battery performed in 4-layer formats up to 800 charging cycles. A quarter later, the company scaled successful results to 10-layer batteries up to 800 cycles.Which company has the most advanced battery technology? ›
Toyota Motor is considered the leader in solid-state battery patents. Currently, EVs with solid-state batteries are not commercially available but are expected to be used in EVs from 2025.What company is making the million mile battery? ›
Two years ago, Tesla patented Dahn's million-mile battery and CEO Elon Musk said he would deploy the long-life battery in 2020.
Who are the top battery manufacturers in USA? ›
- East Penn Manufacturing Co. You will find this company in Lyon Station, Pennsylvania. ...
- Tesla, Inc. ...
- Clarios Advanced Solutions, LLC. ...
- SK Battery America, Inc. ...
- Stryten Salina, LLC. ...
- SK Battery America, Inc. ...
- Ultium Cells, LLC. ...
- A123 systems, LLC.
While Tesla is leading the country in sales, the same is not true globally. Chinese manufacturer BYD sells 20 percent of the world's EVs , to Tesla's 12.6 percent. As for GM, the company promises to build 50,000 EVs by the middle of the year and 100,000 more units by the end of the year.What is the most popular EV of all time? ›
Tesla remains on top by a far margin, accounting for 65% of total EV sales in the United States in 2022.What is the best charging for EV battery life? ›
Minimum and Maximum Battery Charge
Lithium-ion batteries work better when they are used and charged in partial cycles, in other words, not completely depleted or fully charged. Consequently, the best charging practice is to charge the battery at different stages, optimally keeping its level between 20% and 80%.
What's the average battery capacity of electric cars? Electric car battery capacity is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The average electric vehicle has a battery capacity of around 40 kWh, but it varies greatly between different car models and can be anything from around 20 kWh to 100 kWh.Which lithium ion battery is best for EV? ›
Lithium nickel cobalt aluminum oxide (NCA) batteries offer the highest specific energy with decent specific power and a long lifecycle. This is why they are well suitable for the electric vehicle market, despite the fact they need proper safety checks in place because of their more unstable nature.Who is the leader in EV battery technology? ›
CATL is the leading brand in EV battery manufacturing, securing 34% of the market share. Based in China, CATL manufacturers solid-state batteries and lithium-ion batteries for companies including BMW, Toyota, and Honda, to name a few.Who makes the best electric vehicle batteries? ›
Some of the most prominent players operating in the EV battery industry include Contemporary Amperex Technology Co Ltd (SHE:300750), Panasonic Holdings Corporation (OTC:PCRFY), BYD Company Limited (OTC:BYDDY), and LG Energy Solution Ltd (KRX:373220).Does driving fast drain EV battery? ›
Steady driving at highway speed drains the battery much faster than driving in stop-and-go traffic – but anywhere you are driving, freeway or side road, driving faster consumes more of your battery than driving slower.Should I leave my EV plugged in when not in use? ›
However, leaving the battery fully charged for an extended period of time is not recommended. In fact, it could actually accelerate the wear on battery cells. The best option is to charge your battery to no more than 50% before leaving your car parked for an extended period of time.
Does fast charging shorten battery life? ›
Technically, yes. Fast charging is not inherently bad for your phone. The risk comes from the heat that a fast charge generates. Heat, whether it comes from leaving the phone in a hot car or overcharging it, can hinder your battery's performance.Which country has most lithium? ›
Where is lithium available from? With 8 million tons, Chile has the world's largest known lithium reserves. This puts the South American country ahead of Australia (2.7 million tons), Argentina (2 million tons) and China (1 million tons).How much lithium does it take to make a car battery? ›
A typical EV battery has about 8 kilograms of lithium, 14 kilograms of cobalt, and 20 kilograms of manganese, although this can often be much more depending on the battery size – a Tesla Model S' battery, for example, contains around 62.6 kg (138 pounds) of lithium.Where will us get lithium? ›
The US gets most of its lithium-ion batteries from China, and also sources large volumes from South Korea and Japan. But there is a huge, unregulated market for battery packs in the US, which poses a challenge to regulators and a threat to consumers.Where is the largest lithium deposit in the United States? ›
The Thacker Pass Lithium Mine is a lithium clay mining development project in Humboldt County, Nevada, which is the largest known lithium deposit in the US and one of the largest in the world. There has been significant exploration of Thacker Pass since 2007.How much of the earth is lithium? ›
Lithium constitutes about 0.002 percent of Earth's crust. In keeping with its name, lithium forms a minor part of igneous rocks, with the largest concentrations in granites.Is there enough lithium for all cars to be electric? ›
Yes, the world has enough lithium for our electric vehicles, decades into the future. The world is currently not producing enough of it to keep up with demand. This could be a major bottleneck this decade.What is the longest lasting battery technology? ›
Solid-state batteries are believed to last longer — with up to seven times more recharges during their lifetime, according to CAR Magazine. They're also believed to be safer, because the solid electrolyte material is fireproof, unlike lithium-ion batteries, which are known to pose a fire risk.What is the most powerful battery in the world? ›
The record-breaking Saft battery
The system can be expanded up to 40MW as needed. The battery's Guinness World Record was achieved during commissioning, when the BESS was discharged at the full overload capability of 46MW for five minutes, earning it the title of the World's Most Powerful Battery.
In battery technology parlance, solid-state batteries (SSBs) are sometimes called “forever batteries.” That's because these batteries promise to far outlast traditionally technologies that rely on the electrochemical discharge of ionic solutions.
What battery startup is backed by Bill Gates? ›
Form Energy Inc., an energy-storage company backed by Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures, is planning a $760 million factory in West Virginia, the latest plant announced in the aftermath of President Joe Biden's landmark climate law.What does it cost to replace a Tesla battery? ›
Typically, depending on the car, the most basic battery replacement in Tesla costs between $5,000 and $20,000. For the Model S premium sedan, replacing a Tesla battery costs around $13,000-$20,000. Model 3 entry-level sedan and Model X premium SUV battery replacement can cost at least $13,000 and $14,000, respectively.What will happen to gas prices when electric cars take over? ›
The bottom line for consumers as EVs become more popular, reduced gas demand likely will not lower prices as refiners constrict supply. In fact, supplies will probably decrease slightly faster than demand, keeping prices high. Any small mismatch between supply and demand could cause considerable price volatility.Can you plug an electric car into a regular outlet? ›
All mass-produced electric vehicles today include a 110-volt-compatible (Level 1) charging unit which is able to be plugged into any standard 110v household outlet. The downside of EV charging with a 110v outlet is that it takes a while.Will an electric car last 100000 miles? ›
Yes, but not as much as you may think or as fast as you may fear. Under current estimates, most EV batteries will last between 15-20 years or 100,000 to 200,000 miles before they need to be replaced, it is more likely that the battery will outlast the car.What is the new CATL battery technology? ›
For its latest battery, CATL appears to have developed a type of highly conductive electrolyte gel, which saves on weight. In a statement, it says the battery uses "condensed matter" as an electrolyte to improve the conductive performance of the cells, as well as "innovative" anode materials.What is the new battery technology that last forever? ›
In battery technology parlance, solid-state batteries (SSBs) are sometimes called “forever batteries.” That's because these batteries promise to far outlast traditionally technologies that rely on the electrochemical discharge of ionic solutions.Can you buy CATL stock in the US? ›
CATL is a publicly traded company, but it does not trade on a US exchange. CATL shares trade on the Shenzhen exchange, which makes a purchase complicated for many US investors.What battery is replacing lithium? ›
Sodium-ion batteries also swerve sharply from lithium-ion chemistries common today. These batteries have a design similar to that of lithium-ion batteries, including a liquid electrolyte, but instead of relying on lithium, they use sodium as the main chemical ingredient.Which car companies use CATL batteries? ›
One-third of the world's EV batteries come from the Chinese company. CATL provides lithium-ion batteries to Tesla, Peugeot, Hyundai, Honda, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo.
What is the name of the forever battery stock? ›
Solid Power (SLDP)
Forever battery stocks like Solid Power (NASDAQ:SLDP) are headed higher, too. For one, the U.S. Department of Energy just awarded the company over $5 million to develop its technology, “which could significantly help lower the price of EV batteries,” according to Electrek.com.
Two years ago, Tesla patented Dahn's million-mile battery and CEO Elon Musk said he would deploy the long-life battery in 2020.Are graphene batteries better than lithium? ›
Graphene batteries come with two major advantages over standard lithium-ion: They can store larger amounts of energy in the same size package, and. They can recharge much more quickly thanks to supporting higher electrical conductivity.Is lithium the next oil? ›
According to the United States Geological Survey, global consumption increased by 41 per cent from 2021 to 2022. Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, dubbed lithium-based batteries "the new oil."What is the new battery company Bill Gates? ›
Form Energy Inc., an energy-storage company backed by Bill Gates's Breakthrough Energy Ventures, is planning a $760 million factory in West Virginia, the latest plant announced in the aftermath of President Joe Biden's landmark climate law.What is the oldest battery that is still working? ›
It was a battery designed to propel a hanging metal ball quickly back and forth, between two small bells. Today, 175 years after it was manufactured, the Oxford Electric Bell, as it is often referred to, is still ringing—in fact, it is said to have rung over 10 billion times.