Current lithium-ion battery technology, while far better than SLA (sealed lead acid) or NiMH (nickel-metal hydride) battery technology, still has a couple of problems that prevent electric vehicles from taking the market by storm.
The next-generation lithium-ion battery, or some other chemistry, will have to do better, whether it be in cost, energy density, or reliability, that seem to cause the most trouble for electric vehicle manufacturers. Of course, most of the problem is not the technology itself, but people’s perception of it. After all, in the minds of many, why would you spend thousands of dollars more for a vehicle that’s half as capable?
Could the next-generation lithium-ion battery solve these problems? Battery developers have been working on exactly these problems, with varying degrees of success. Tesla Motors, for example, uses the commodity Panasonic 18650 lithium-ion cell for its electric vehicles, and the massive battery pack itself costs something like $10,000 to $12,000. A123 Systems went bankrupt waiting for its NanoPhosphate battery to take off. Envia Systems’ 400 Wh/kg BASF, Bosch, and others are all working on whatever breakthrough that might change the electric vehicle market.
Sakti3 is another company working on lithium-ion battery technology, albeit quietly. Sakti3’s thin-film lithium-ion battery technology’s energy density is described as “very high” and seems to be promising. First, the solid state thin-film battery has no electrolyte, which results in a much lighter battery. This, in turn, should make for a cheaper battery. The problem, right now, is getting the battery into production. Indeed, there is very little new or specific information on the official website, in spite of the company being around three years old. If Sakti3 can make it to mass-production, will better lithium-ion battery energy density and lower costs shake up the electric vehicle market?
Image © Sakti3