Opportunities for Disruptive Advances through Engineering for Next Generation Energy Storage
Throughout human history, major economic disruption has been due to technological breakthroughs. Since 1990 the energy density of lithium-ion cells has increased by a factor of four and the cost has dropped by a factor of 10. This has caused disruption to the energy industry, but advances are slowing. The manufacturing and supply chain complexity means that the next big technology will take 15 years to dominate. The academic literature charts this process of development and can be used to show
... an be used to show what is in the pipeline. Three candidates that have had a large increase in publication count are: lithium sulphur, solid-state, and sodium-ion technology. From the level of investments in start-ups and academic publication counts, solid‑state cells are closest to maturity. To identify disruption potential, look at uncertainty in performance. Cell lifetime in lithium-ion cells indicates room for improvement. Define a new disruption metric: . Look for areas of industry that lower this metric. Thermal management is a lucrative area for improvement. Cooling the cell tabs of a 5Ah cell reduces the lifetime cost by 66%, compared to 8%/pa for 13 years relying on cost reduction. Second life applications lower the lifetime cost by using the remaining 75% of energy throughput available in a cell after use in an electric vehicle. Drop-in changes to standard manufacturing processes enable huge disruption. Electrolyte additives can increase cell life by 10 times, lowering lifetime cost by 90% in a simple manufacturing intervention.