We know that battery capability, which is primarily defined using energy density by volume and by weight, is a critical factor in determining what we can expect of the units they power. Pundits at all levels of technical knowledge from near-zero to quite advanced keep reminding us of this obvious fact, and then opine on what they think will or should happen next. In many cases, these writers have an agenda (of course, a common one is "send us more grant money and funding so we can finish the job"), so it's hard to separate facts from hopes and wishful thinking.
That's why I was impressed by a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, "Tech World Vexed by Slow Progress on Batteries," which I thought was one of the best and clearest assessments of the present status of battery technology and advances I have seen. The article made two points:
There have been significant advances in the last few years that have made many products practical, including smart phones and battery-powered tools. (The author cites specific examples.) Although each advance may have been modest in itself, they do add up to a genuine and substantial increase in performance metrics.
The much-vaunted "breakthrough" that everyone wants, hopes for, or claims they are "this close" to, just isn't in sight. When you step back and look at the bigger picture, there's certainly been progress, but it has been in incremental layers, not major leaps. The breakthrough to allow practical batteries that are much, much lighter in weight, denser in capacity, and lower in cost (hopefully, all at the same time) is not just around the corner. It seems that we are bombarded with researchers claiming that they on the path for the breakthrough, but that hasn't materialized when you peel back the hype.
The supposed imminent "quantum leaps" (a very misused phrase) are really just modest advances of varying degrees, not game changers or "paradigm shifts," to use another cliché. Further, translating even a modest prototype battery improvement into actual volume manufacturing and OEM adoption is a long-term undertaking -- on the order of ten years or more. Regardless of the technology or chemistry you have, battery manufacturing is a very capital- , materials-, and production-intensive process.
There's another problem with supposed breakthroughs: You can only recognize them in retrospect, so you need the perspective of hindsight. It's like peak detection, in that you can only determine that you have had a peak after it has passed. Breakthroughs are very hard, if not impossible, to see as they approach or even as they happen, and it is even harder to see how they will really unfold. Consider these major breakthroughs in our industry:
The transistor (1947) was demonstrated as an analog amplifier. Its role as a digital-switching building block was not really foreseen.
The integrated circuit (1958) was an analog audio oscillator. The impact of large-scale integration for digital functions was not apparent.
The laser (1960) was called "a solution in search of problems to solve" by observers. We know how that situation turned out!
To read the rest of this article, visit EBN sister site EE Times.
When one looks at it;Batteries are just a means to Store Energy and not a Source of Energy in and themselves-You will still need Coal,Oil,Gas,Hydro or in rare cases Solar /Geothermal/Wind/Biomass as Fuel to power the Machine in the first place and/or Charge the Battery.
So if your Battery is not recyclable then its not really-really helpful here.
"We know that battery capability, which is primarily defined using energy density by volume and by weight, is a critical factor in determining what we can expect of the units they power. Pundits at all levels of technical knowledge from near-zero to quite advanced keep reminding us of this obvious fact, and then opine on what they think will or should happen next."
Bill, energy domain/sector is an evergreen topic. Eventhough we are able to generate green or renewable energy, storage is a major concern. Mainly we are depending batteries for storage and as of now storage capacities are limited and around 60-70% are the efficiency of storage batteries. So more storage per cells has to be the motto for R&D in storage devices.
"So more storage per cells has to be the motto for R&D in storage devices."
You have highlighted the core objective that should be setup by battery manufacturers and I am sure they realize that but it is true that results have not been very impressive when comparing them with other components of devices such as RAM, HDDs and processors.
"You have highlighted the core objective that should be setup by battery manufacturers and I am sure they realize that but it is true that results have not been very impressive when comparing them with other components of devices such as RAM, HDDs and processors."
Waqas, am not sure how we can compare batteries with RAM, HDD, processor etc, but there are some improvements happened in alkaline storage and power bank technology. The same is not scaled to normal battery technologies.
Jacob, one more thing I'd like to highlight is that in 30% of the usage times, I am facing a low battery alert. Portable battery pack is a good cover but ideally it shouldn't be required. Primary battery should serve the purpose.
"one more thing I'd like to highlight is that in 30% of the usage times, I am facing a low battery alert. Portable battery pack is a good cover but ideally it shouldn't be required. Primary battery should serve the purpose."
Waqas, the issue with Smartphone and tablets are, most of the back ground processor and apps consumes lots of power continuously without the user knowledge. If you are able to stop that back end process, you can save energy to an extent.
Bill, you have touched a topic which unfortunately has not been touched much by the tech-writers on internet which I think is due to the reason that they consider this topic too minute in aspect when considering the role of technology in growth of industries. However, you can realize its important if your phone/laptop/tablet is not charged at a time when urgent contact through email or internet apps becomes game-changer.
Basically the batteries are used in devices which are mobile The cellphones, the vehicles, the laptops and finally the evolving EVs.
In all these devices the main performance criterion are 1. weight 2. energy density 3. recharge time and 4. cost.
The future enrgy packs ( not necessarily the conventional batteries using the electrochemical technique ) need to address these issues by some radical thinking in terms of material usage, energy conversion/reconversion and so on.
"The future enrgy packs ( not necessarily the conventional batteries using the electrochemical technique ) need to address these issues by some radical thinking in terms of material usage, energy conversion/reconversion and so on. "
@prabhakar: The way I see it, the batteries these days need to be given external charging and there's no on-the-go charging capabilities to charge with the application at hand. For instance, we need more work on how the phones and tablets can be charged using the motion, heat, solar power etc that can be obtained while the device is being used instead of it being plugged in separately.
I know that this may be cliche but a quantum leap in battery or power storage will basically solve a lot of energy crisis that we are going towards. Majorly, all the renewable energy if stored at cheap then we will have major advancement in these fields. I think we should already announce a future nobel prize for anyone who can crack an ideal battery puzzle.
@Himanshugupta: I agree with you. The innovation in battery power will indeed solve a lot of problems that we face today. It may give a quantum leap to the industry as you mentioned. However, the only way that can happen is when the innovation is something bizarre and out of the world not just a mere improvement in battery technology.
How the cycle has turned: Putting an AM radio into a car was a big advance in the 1920s and 1930s. Now, auto vendors are considering eliminating the radio as a standard or even optional feature, due to declining user need and listenership.
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