A great, reminder, Chuck, that great innovation requires patience and long, laborious work. In our fast-moving, immediate gratification society, we tend to forget that. We look at how fast technologies have come on board (cell phones, smart phones, the Internet) and expect that everything follows the same rapid-fire trajectory. Some things, as you well said, can't be rushed.
Beth, I've gotta correct at least one big misconception. I can personally attest to the fact that modern digital cell phone technology was NOT a quick development! Way back around 1970, I worked in the Product Research labs at Motorola Comm Division. I was asked to consult on a new project, run by Marty Cooper (aka "the father of the cell phone"; Google him!). All around the new HQ in Schaumburg, there were 6-inch aluminum cubes hanging from the hallway ceilings; these were breadboard cell towers! It took a lot longer than "overnight" by any definition for that technolgy to become commonplace reality! Even the PC took quite a few years to become a consumer product (IBM started the PC development with a "skunk works" group in Boca Raton in 1979; not until the early '90s would the technology become commonplace in homes). Similar story with computer games: my first exposure was to "Space Wars" running on a PDP1 in the basement of the MIT EE department in 1962! BTW, that had 2 jet fighter training consoles attached (the original joysticks!), and included gravitational fields around the stars, hyperspace, and a toroidal universe (the center of the recycled PPI screen display was the same point as the entire perimeter; you could fly off the screen and emerge from the center, and vice versa), and IMHO it is still among the best interactive games ever!
I agree with Ratsky. I didn't start reporting on cell phone technology until the early 1990s, but you're certainly right--it was not at all fast development. Most new system concepts, like a PC or cell phone, that require a bunch of other, associated but disparate technologies take years to reach consumer market readiness. The tablet has been one of the slowest ever. I was writing about them in the early 90s, also. At one point, lots of people thought that concept had completely died.
It seems that the payoff for a high energy density battery is so big, that somebody somewhere has to come up with the breakthrough. I'm sure the battery companies are working hard on the solution - but it seems that everytime I hear of some lab experiment that "holds the promise" of this mythical beast it never seems to make it into production. Anybody out there enough of a chemistry expert to say if there is some fundamental limit to this battery "holy grail", or even if we've really improved over the standard lead-acid battery in the last 20 years? I'd be curious to know.
20 years? "The average increase in the rate of the energy density of secondary batteries has been about 3% in the past 60 years."
First, your practical limit for chemical (as opposed to anti-matter) batteries is the energy limits of the possible chemical bonds of, say 20-40 common elements. (maybe a million chemists have poured over that for the last couple centuries)
Next is the practicality of synthesizing those bonds – while there are chemical energies marginally denser than hydrocarbons, (e.g., metal hydrides) they are inefficient and complex.After 3 billion years of evolutionary experimentation, the most practical energy storage chemistry [for this planet] seems to be hydrocarbons. Hydrocarbons are 'easy'; as you read this you are likely turning your last sugary soda into hydrocarbons.
Third is the limitation imposed by the battery needing to be composed mostly of inert material.
The physical limit for 'holy grail' (magical?) "super high energy density batteries" is only about >three times<(!) that of present Lithium ion batteries. See link below
"The average increase in the rate of the energy density of secondary batteries has been about 3% in the past 60 years. Obviously, a great breakthrough is needed in order to increase the energy density from the current 210 Wh kg−1 of Li-ion batteries to the ambitious target of 500–700 Wh kg−1 to satisfy application in electrical vehicles. A thermodynamic calculation on the theoretical energy densities of 1172 systems is performed and energy storage mechanisms are discussed, aiming to determine the theoretical and practical limits of storing chemical energy and to screen possible systems. Among all calculated systems, the Li/F2 battery processes the highest energy density and the Li/O2 battery ranks as the second highest, theoretically about ten times higher than current Li-ion batteries. In this paper, energy densities of Li-ion batteries and a comparison of Li, Na, Mg, Al, Zn-based batteries, Li-storage capacities of the electrode materials and conversion reactions for energy storage, in addition to resource and environmental concerns, are analyzed."
I don't know what the figure for lead-acid is today, but we reported a specific energy of 40-50 Wh/kg in 1998. In 2008, Design News asked battery experts from MIT, Lawrence Berkeley Labs, Argonne Labs, the Univ. of Michigan and elsewhere for their estimates of where lead-acid was then. Their estimates averaged out to about 50 Wh/kg. In contrast, we reported the specific energy of lithium-ion as 90 Wh/kg in 1998. In 2010, Nissan reported its Leaf battery at 140 Wh/kg. That's a 55% increase over 12 years, somewhere around 4% per year, I would guess. It's not a Moore's Law-type of rise, but it's still pretty good.
8*$150=$1,200 (today cost; was $90 per 12 V battery in 2003 yet not a single person can expalin why this "old" technology costs MORE and not less 9 years latter - that is why I think any future "lower cost" any technology battery is just a "hype" with no real life data to prove it !!!)
$1,200/22=$54.54 Batterycost per mile of range (we claim 20 miles per charge but 22 miles is about average and some people get up to 32 miles).
Equivalent Gasoline powered vehicle (with double the Hp)
7*7=49 49lbs (fuel + tank)7*40=280mile range(4*7)/280=0.10 fuel cost per mile
$1200/9000=0.1333 per mile battery cost ( batteries last 7 to 9 years during which time average customer drives about 9,000 miles - few went 13,000 to 15,000 and few only 5,000 to 7,000 miles before the battery was not able to deliver the needed range. With exception of 2 batteries all were suitable to be having a second LIFE as automotive starting batteries and some even a THIRD life as Computer UPS units.
Amazing that the Li-ion battery pack is not really all that "lighter" (as per your data) and at a magnitude per mile capability more expensive, with yet to be proven durability (more than 18 to 24 months).
So why would anyone use expensive almost just as heavy technology and pay almost 10 times the cost per mile over the cost of conventional ICE vehicle ???
The smoke and mirrors must really work as PRIUS as a brand was just announced as the #3 in world sales for Q1 2012 !!!
25 Wh/kg is the Real Life capacity for the Batteries in OKA NEV ZEV
(4kWh) - 1990's technology but still made in 2012 without any changes.
But unlike the "other" modern technologies that is IT, no extra battery casing, no BMS systems, no cooling or ventilation, just 4 to 6 inch #2 AWG copper wires to interconnect the batteries and 100 A Slow Blow Fuse per pack provides all the interconnection and safety (400 A fuse on the controller).
So the theoretically 10 times more superior claims of Li technology are not there at the final application level in Automotive use when all the extra weight bits and pieces are added to the lot !
For the OKA NEV ZEV
Typical re-charge (power from 120 V AC socket @ 12 V peak is 3.38 kWh per 22 miles)
So we really only use 0.845 of the pack teoretical capacity but that includes the charging loss.
It sounds like the venture capital industry needs educating on how different the development of some technologies--like batteries--are from the typical curves for semiconductors. Or maybe the funding sources just need to be constructed in a different way for funding such slower, longer-cycle technology development. The semiconductor R&D model, and for that matter, its manufacturing model, are not always transferrable to other tech sectors, such as batteries or vision and optics.
Yes, the softening of the EV market isn't helping, Rob. Recently, car reviewers have seemed shocked when they've looked at the prices of the most recent EVs. Toyota's RAV4 EV came in at $50,000; Ford's Focus came in just under $40,000 and the tiny Mitsubishi i-MiEV clocked in at $31,125, base price. A Wall Street Journal reviewer who admits he's wanted an electric car for a decade seemed dumbfounded by the price of the RAV4 EV, writing, "I can't imagine more than a handful of people willing to spend twice the cost of a gasoline-powered RAV4 to have an electric version." The problem is, everyone's waiting for EVs to follow the path of PC technology, and it isn't happening.
Energy storage is just basic physics. If we can find just the right material and process, it will be like a magical genie that's released to serve our bidding. Which is why there is an almost religeous component to the desire to have an electric car (with the necessary energy storage). Reality is less rosey: eventually it might happen (if someone makes the right discovery), or maybe not.
Last week I just pulled an old model train power supply from the attic and discovered that the diode used to rectify the AC to DC was not silicon but the old selenium type. Seems unrelated, except that this reminds me of the history of semiconductor development which seems apropos.
Back in the day, electronics were all based on vacuum tubes. These were hot, large, didn't scale smaller well, and wasted lots of power. At least they were better than the mechanical devices used before tubes. Everybody searched high and low for a better device for decades (sound familiar?). The only available solid state devices in wide use were whisker diodes (handmade, they were not very good signal diodes and certainly couldn't be used for power) and selenium diodes (better for power, but they were very leaky and not as good as vaccuum tubes).
It took the discovery of that magical combination of silicon doped with impurities that can be, for all intents and purposes, printed to create a REAL alternative to tubes. It would seem battery development is going down EXACTLY the same path as semiconductors. Moore's law won't apply until that magical discovery is made.
I agree, Ann. The investment focus should be on applied research and even basic research, rather than on car companies that are making incremental improvements. Incremental improvements might help with plug-in hybrids, but they will limit the acceptance of pure electric cars to early adopters.
Chuck I'm sure you, as well as Rob, have also noticed how the Moore's Law approach to non-semiconductor technologies--and the consequent assumptions about a wide range of things like manufacturing, distribution and sales--simply doesn't work in many cases. I believe we've discussed that elsewhere in DN. But I don't think I've noticed discussion of this regarding investment. It would make a lot of sense if this were a key reason for why battery technology has lagged, and the article seems to suggest that.
The general form of Moore's Law is exponential growth.Exponential growth requires two things, demand for growth and margin to grow into.Once a parameter has reached 50% of maximum possible growth, it will never double again, no matter the level of demand. (cf. Norvig's Law) If a system is already on the order of 25% efficiency, there is not much room for exponential growth in efficiency.If you are relatively close (i.e., the same order of magnitude) to limits for the best possible values for physical and production parameters, you can't have exponential growth.
Ironhorse, thanks for that analysis (and for the reference to Norvig's Law). It makes total sense in the real world as well as in the theoretical mathematical world. One thing that's also worth remembering is that Moore's so-called Law was merely an about memory chips, as he himself said. But it's been taken as a prescription, which he never intended, and which doesn't work, not even for memory. I was reporting on memory technology when the first generation in the sequence got skipped (I think that was the jump from 4 to 16 MB).
I don't think that we necessarily need a breakthrough in new materials for a better battery. I think what the EV industry really needs is a battery manufacturing breakthrough to make current battery technology cheaper. If we could just make our current Lithium Ion technolgy 50% cheaper that would go a long way in lowering the price of electric vehicles. While electric cars would of course benefit from smaller and lighter batteries with higher energy density, what we have today is good enough if it could be manufactured more affordably.
What gets me about all of this fretting about batteries is the plain fact of beating taxpayer's/consumer's collective airheads against a wall of simple physics.As I understand it, while a gas tank is full of either fuel or air, a battery is mostly >inert< solids.It is magical to think that physics can be violated, so if one tends to have magical interpretations of nature, economics, and government finance, one might believe that batteries can more than replace gas tanks (and thus be prey to charlatans).
At best, and by definition, a battery is a "gas tank" full of sand!That is the >starting-point< of EV system design!Therefore, there is no mystery why it is so hard, expensive, or hazardous to increase energy density of batteries.If we come up with an EV energy storage device with the performance of a gas tank, it might not be much like a battery.I'm guessing that it will take new physics to do that.
any1 has the point, if batteries were next to free, we could just pack in half a ton of them and just use regenerative breaking to schlep their mass around.
A further note on the vehicle prices, these are typically "sold-at-a-loss prices".
We really don't know what it costs to actually make these cars, much less what it would take to make them profitably at those prices. We are not even close to being able to make EVs profitably at competitve prices with conventional vehicles.
This is a big point Volt fans often miss. Yes, you got a neat piece of technology and a cool little car for $32-35K. GM lost money on it and the Govt subsidized both the technology and your purchase. It is not a matter of getting the price down from $40k, they still need to get the cost down below $40k. Way below. The cost of producing an EV needs to get low enough to make them profitable in the $30k or below range.
That is a long way off. Toyota knows cost on commercially successful battery volumes pretty well by now. They estimate $500/mile of range.
The bottom line for most consumers is going to be the $/mile operating cost for fuel over a reasonable vehicle lifetime. With average $4/gal fuel cost; for even a Hybrid package extending economy from 30 - 45 mpg; and vehicle life of 100k miles [probably realistic current battery life], the purchase price increase vs. a IC only vehicle must be <= $4,500. Even with the current large Taxpayer paid "Government" subsidies; the $$$ just don't add up.
However, If a truly long range [>= 300 mi], rapid recharge [<= 30 min.] vehicle is developed; at Southeastern US kWh rates of 0.11 and IC engine operating efficiency [comparison] of 0.3 the cost differential will only have to be <= $32,000. This is where the plug-in EV can make its case.
When $/mile does not matter, or is not even considered, then you can get GREAT MPGe.
When CLEAN AIR at the vehicle source is "priceless" then burning coal elsewhere to make electrons flow into EV makes sense.
Small car for Urbank driving utilizing developed Pb technology where traction batteries can have second and even third life as starting or UPS batteries can make EV practical and can be made for under $7,000
But add the FMVSS required equipment for anything that goes over 25 MPH (FMVSS #500 for LSV) and now you have a vehicle that costs
$18,000 to $23,000
Swithc the Pb to Li
and now it is $10,000 to $14,000 more
Make if go 100 MPH and that adds yet another $10,000 to $24,000
Throw in Subsidies and that at best reduces the price by $5,000 to $15,000
But then you look at the sales of Mitsubishi EV or the Think! or Wheego and at the volume people buy EV, there is no Business case - thus the result like Aptera, Think !, Bright, Azure = bankrupt
FISKER and TESLA is next in line for a certain demise.
Only if you can afford to have $$$$$ loss per every EV you make you can afford to be in EV business:
I have never seen any pricing of range by anyone and especially not TOYOTA, even the actual cost of any battery that any OEM uses is top secret, only FORD went accidentally on a limb quoting an "estimate" on cost of batteries and that was in $10,000 to $15,000 per vehicle as per speech that Mr. Mullaly made few weeks ago. Perhaps to explain why EV Focus is that much more than ICE.
Prior that all EV Battery cost estimates were from everyone else but the Automotive OEM.
I myself got the lowerst estimates to replace 4kWh 48 V DC pack with Li technology at about $4,200 and that is without battery management.
We now use since 2003 Pb and the cost per 4kWh is just about $1,000 and the useful battery service life of up to 7 years, and 80% of the batteries can have second life as Automotive Starting batteries for yet another few years.
In 9 years only 4 Battery modules failed, one during the 18 month warranty period.
No Li system that we have tested (26 different set ups) survived in service for more than 26 months so the cost per KWh of battery is chemistry dependend and the long term cost for Li is just astronomical when compared to Pb.
There is PLENTY of energy around. The problem is the COST of it. If gasoline were 32 cents per gal. we wouldn't even be having this discussion. Four dollar/gal gas is due to commodities futures trading, taxes, politics (foreign and domestic) and wars (actual or potential).
The price of petroleum should be tied to the cost at the wall outlet to run the pump to get it out of the ground + some transportation charge.
If 6-32 screws were traded on the commodities exchanges, I would have to run a new bill of materials twice a day just to know how much to charge for my widgets. Every time you went into the store to buy my product the price would be different. Add to that the "screw tax" and things would be even worse because Washington politicians would stay up nights trying to raise the screw-tax-rate.
In addition (no I wasn't finished yet), batteries are statistically safe compared to anything else containing a high energy density material. Take gasoline for example: Take a 5 gal can of gasoline, pour it out on the ground and supply a spark. I suspect the result would be MUCH worse than any problem with a battery you could come up with.
Why do people always hold "Europe" up as the thing we should compare ourselves to? Didn't we get the hell out of there a couple of hundred years ago because the place was so screwed up?
My first trip to Europe was about 20 years ago (England) and I had a depressing feeling that I was seeing the future of the U.S. Some roads were so narrow that if two cars approached that one would have to pull over and stop to let the other go by.
I went to a hardware store one day and they had a display of garden hoses with no ends on them. My friend explained to me that the spigot on the front of his house was different than the one on the rear. I joked that some were probably left hand thread and he told me that some actually were.
Half of the problems we (U.S.) have are as a result of Brussels and the EU.
But if things automotive were standard on all cars as were the US mandated sealed beams of years ago, then most Automotive engineers would be out of a design job, for they would not be needed to re-invent the bulb for each model year.
Have you noticed there are over 53 P/N for "bulbs" for tail lights and in 1970 there were only TWO - a single fillament and dual fillament and in pre 1966 before NHTSA got going there was only the dual fillament version as reverse lights were not required.
Today the ONLY automotive item that is universal (but probably not for long due to TPMS) is the air valve in the tire stem used World over and also the thread size on the tire valve cap.
Everything else is different on every make, model, brand and model year - if those un-necesarily different parts were "standartized" cars World over would be up to 40% less expensive !
Yet all the famous "mergers" are to cost cut the parts that are inherently different when the mergers occur like Chrysler Daimler now FIAT Chrysler, Suzuki VW that used to be GM Suzuki, etc.
You do not have to "merge" to cut costs, just use the SAME SUPPLIER - as simple as that - and buy what they already make in volume "for the other guy" !
I don't think we're likely to become much like Europe, Robatnorcross. The U.S. has always been a vibrant country of entrepreneurs and innovators. That's as true now as it's been at any given time. The economic sluggishness is making that a tad harder to see these days, but it's there and it will shine well again soon.
Having worked on Battery Development, here are the issues I seen:
1. Market pressure to produce revenue in an immature/unfamiliar market
2. No driving applications [except for Smart Grid] - EVs don't make the cut; FCX Clarity from Honda is a proof in point, not to mention the Electric Grid cannot support a large EV market
3. Immature Technical Leadership - Applications of EV batteries involves the marriage of mechanical and embedded electrical technologies - also there is a lack of familiarity with the Product Development Cycle - unrealistic schedules with no system approach in driving cost down
4. Plenty of experiments need to be runned - most Lithium batteries in the market are not fully charactererized - only one Battery company has test data on their batteries.
First of all, you are not going to be able to sell EVs until you rent and exchange battery packs, so that no single buyer has to take the battery cost risk alone.
Second is that no battery will ever have a rapid pulse discharge capability, so all EVs need some sort of kinetic boost for acceleration, whether it is compressed air, flywheel, capacitive, etc. Compressed air has the added cooling potential, and with a carbon fiber tank, would add the least amount of weight.
Sorry, I don't have a link for you on the $500/mi Toyota battery estimate.
I think was in a privious article here in DN. I would guess it is not just the raw battery cost-probably includes the numerous costs that grow as the battery pack grows (structure/cooling/management).
My primary point was that I see folks talk about bringing a specific EVs price (used the Volt as an example) down from the current advertised level is that these prices are a fiction that does not reflect any market realities. We really do not know what they cost to make. We do know that batteries-in their best current form-are a heavy, bulky, expensive and provide limited range with slow refueling.
As the article points out, development will probably not provide an elegant, quick solution to this.
Continued research in this area is a good thing. Expecting a revolution in the near time frame is probably not realistic. My opinion anyway.
The source is Bill Reinert , national manager of advanced technology vehicles at Toyota. Reinert told us, "If you go 10 to 15 miles all-electric, it's adding an extra $5,000 to $7,500 of cost to your vehicle." Toyota's view is that extra all-electric range adds $500/mile to the overall cost of the vehicle. In his estimate, Reinert included the cost of the battery's cells, cooling systems and structural protection, as well as well as its costs over vehicle life, such as warranties, profit and return on development investment. He's also including the additional costs of other electric car technologies, such as motors and other hardware. The point was that Toyota views a 40-mile range as an additional $20K to the cost of the car.
We'll need a historian to tell us for sure, Mirox, but I think the "boosting battery" described in the New York Times piece of 1911 is actually nickel-iron, which is still around today. Its use today is somewhat limited by rechargeable batteries with higher energy density (nickel-iron has a specific energy of around 30-50 Wh/kg). I can say, though, that when I wrote my first electric vehicle story in 1988, Chrysler was using nickel-iron for its experimental electric cars.
I agree that cell phone and tablet development has not been nearly as fast as it might appear to consumers. Neither has EV battery technology. Check out this article about EV battery technology from The New York Times, November, 1911.
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