While it’s interesting to know about the latest battery technology developments from research laboratories, from time to time a reality check is needed to know what technology is real and already available.
In October last year, the Android smartphone UMi Plus unveiled its Sony battery with an impressive energy density of 690 Wh/L. Now, Huawei Honor 8 Pro gets a battery with even more energy density, in this case it’s 710 Wh/L.
Since new popular smartphones are launched nearly every week and they can use the latest battery technology available at that moment, we can see more frequently where the technology is at.
Smartphones are also ideal electronic devices to see how batteries perform in the real world, since they are always on and need to be safe – otherwise they could blow up in our faces…
While it’s true that there – still – are cylindrical battery cells more energy dense, the pouch and prismatic formats allow to build more compact battery packs – since there is less gaps between the cells. Feel free to check the Battery University article about different battery cell types.
A volumetric energy density of 710 Wh/L in a prismatic or pouch battery cell is nothing short of amazing.
Ok, now that we know where the latest battery technology is at, what would happen if automakers used it in their electric cars? Let’s compare it to what we get in most popular electric cars. To make the comparison realistic, I’ll only compare to electric cars that have batteries made with pouch or prismatic cells.
Battery cell volumetric energy density: 317 Wh/L
With the upgrade we would get a 52,41 kWh battery at the same size. The EPA range would be increased from 84 miles (135 km) to roughly 188 miles (303 km).
Battery cell volumetric energy density: 275 Wh/L
With the upgrade we would get a 66,92 kWh battery at the same size. The unrealistic NEDC range would be increased from 240 to 620 km.
Battery cell volumetric energy density: 357 Wh/L
With the upgrade we would get a 66,4 kWh battery at the same size. The EPA range would be increased from 114 miles (183 km) to roughly 227 miles (365 km).
Battery cell volumetric energy density: 277 Wh/L
With the upgrade we would get a 62 kWh battery at the same size. The EPA range would be increased from 83 miles (134 km) to roughly 213 miles (342 km).
Battery cell volumetric energy density: 218 Wh/L
With the upgrade we would get a 52,11 kWh battery at the same size. The EPA range would be increased from 62 miles (100 km) to roughly 202 miles (325 km).
For this comparison I used the batteries that have their energy densities well documented. This is the reason why I didn’t use the latest batteries available from Nissan, Renault or Volkswagen.
Curiously, the lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery made by Sion Power, has a similar volumetric energy density (700 Wh/L). Sion Power says that their battery cells will enter production in December 2017. Since LG Chem acquired the right to produce this technology, I’m curious to see if it will be produced in its European battery plant in Poland, which will start production later this year. More interesting will be to know which electric cars will get it first.
Let’s not forget that higher energy density is the key for electric car’s success. It’s not only important to improve the range of electric cars, but also to decrease battery costs – since more energy is stored in the same raw materials.
The conclusion of this reality check, it’s the same of my past articles related to current battery technology. Automakers that still use the “battery technology is not ready yet” excuse to not produce mass market electric cars are lying. My hope is that the upcoming LG Chem and Samsung SDI battery plants in Europe will produce high energy density cells from the start, however they will only do it if automakers show real interest in buying them, soon we’ll see…