First, the good news: According to the newspaper, the Daiwa Institute of Research projects that sales of lithium-ion batteries will more than double by 2020, reaching $22.3 billion annually. A year ago, the sales figure was $9.1 billion.
But here’s the bad news: The newspaper suggests that a multitude of Japanese companies are rushing to raise production, potentially creating a future situation in which supply exceeds demand. As a result, battery prices could plummet, even while the cost of creating the batteries is still high.
Battery experts have repeatedly told us that they don’t foresee a time when lithium-ion battery costs will drop below $300/kW-hr. If that’s true, and if The Wall Street Journal’s production assessment is accurate, don’t be surprised if we see makers of plug-in hybrids starting to search for some less costly battery alternatives. After all, manufacturers of plug-ins don’t necessarily need lithium-ion’s long range as much as the pure electric vehicles need it.
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.