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How Argonne National Lab Will Make Electric Cars Cheaper

samzenpus posted about 4 months ago | from the cheap-charge dept.

Power 143

ashshy writes Argonne National Lab is leading the charge on next-generation battery research. In an interview with The Motley Fool, Argonne spokesman Jeff Chamberlain explains how new lithium ion chemistries will drive down the cost of electric cars over the next few years. "The advent of lithium ion has truly enabled transportation uses," Chamberlain said. "Because if you remember your freshman chemistry, you think of the periodic table -- lithium is in the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table. Only hydrogen and helium are lighter on an atomic basis."

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Argonne dolts brag about old tech (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717489)

Look at me! My hard drive holds ONE TERABYTE. Ah ha ha ha ha yes.

The religion of peace (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717499)

Interesting news tibits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717725)

First of all, many thanks for the link

Second of all, this ---

Obama spoke from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard and played golf immediately after delivering his remarks

Re: Interesting news tibits (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718009)

To be fair he wanted to shoot someone in the face while bird hunting, but apparently Martha's Vineyard doesn't have the same easy attitude about misuse of firearms that Wyoming does.

Re: Interesting news tibits (1)

Chrisje (471362) | about 4 months ago | (#47718427)

Why post this anonymous? Now it won't be +5Funny.

Yeah, so? (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717509)

We don't know everything about the universe. There might be another lighter element between lithium and hydrogen that we don't know about. It might be out there in space and we have to go explore the universe with 3D printers to make better batteries.

Computers got better, and someone was wrong once, so anything is possible and you're a Luddite if you don't believe it.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717529)

That's right, it's called nullithium and its nucleus contains zero protons.

Re:Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717629)

It's all neutrons held together by exotic 4-quark gluons.

Re:Yeah, so? (2)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#47717677)

It's zero protons held together with magnets.

Re:Yeah, so? (2)

_merlin (160982) | about 4 months ago | (#47717989)

I think you mean "fucking magnets" - how do they work?

Re:Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718507)

It's called neutronium and is the most common element in the universe (if you exclude "black hole-ium", whatever that exactly is). And if you count tonnes and not nuclei.
It's just all tied up in these neutron stars and really doesn't want to leave.
It's not exactly low density.

Re:Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717557)

Did you pull this shit out of the Science Channel's ass?

Re:Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717621)

Quick! Make a kickstarter and fund it with bitcoins yay!

Re:Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717671)

> There might be another lighter element between lithium and hydrogen that we don't know about.

You mean helium? Or are you thinking an element with 2.5 or maybe 1.3 protons?

Re:Yeah, so? (4, Funny)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 4 months ago | (#47717683)

What do you mean? An African or European proton?

Re:Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717759)

Yes, 1.45 protons. We don't know everything about the universe and some scientists were wrong once, therefore anything I can imagine will become true.

(This is satire, it is how Space Nutters sound to me.)

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47718855)

So you do not think there could ever be anything discovered that has the same amount of protons but completely different properties due to some yet unknown reason? Is it that everything in this area of science has already been discovered, the concenssus is in and we should ignore it all except for how we use what we already know?

I think this was the case once before when some idiot tried to claim there was some special theory of reletivity or something nuty like that. Its a good thing nobody took him seriously.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | about 4 months ago | (#47719639)

...but completely different properties ...

Properties that as yet we have not encountered, have no way to experience, or measure.....possible, sure. But then if they did, this would introduce a different classification system. So rather than refer to these things as Elements we might call them Smelements...........

Hmmm, I think you're on to something here.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47719955)

The universe is big- something on a quantum level could possible make this happen. A proton is not the smallest part of an element. If this was to happen, it is possible it could be introduced via comet and we would have a way to encounter, experience, and measure- although it msy take time to understand.

Like i said, we thought we knew everything about physics once then it was turned upside down by Einstein. I do see how we would classify it differrently but i doubt anything would be renamed.

Re: Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717845)

Well, maybe not in this universe. But maybe in a parallel universe, with slightly different physical laws. If we could exchange matter with that universe, it could provide free energy! I wonder what the consequences might be?

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 4 months ago | (#47718033)

Oh, c'mon, everyone knows that the ultimate power source will be an element with pi protons, e neutrons & 3i electrons

Re:Yeah, so? (2)

haruchai (17472) | about 4 months ago | (#47718037)

Hmm, that was typed as sq rt 2 x i electrons but Slashdot made it a 3.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 4 months ago | (#47719255)

I liked the "Thomas Covenant" series, too.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

apraetor (248989) | about 4 months ago | (#47717743)

I dunno what weird engineered atoms might be in our future, but the element to which any atom belongs is determined by its proton count -- and since we're talking about discrete units they can only exist as whole numbers.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about 4 months ago | (#47718881)

I don't know what the parent was thinking but what if there ended up being two elements with the same number if protons but different phisical properties due to some yet to be discovered reason.

How would something like that be treated? I mean for instance, a noble gas which is solid at room temperature and becomed a superconductor at the same time. Lets run with the fucking magnets and say something with the neutron bond causes the different behavior.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47720031)

what if there ended up being two elements with the same number if protons

Since we define elements by the number of protons, that would be basically impossible.

Re:Yeah, so? (2)

Dragonslicer (991472) | about 4 months ago | (#47720275)

I don't know what the parent was thinking but what if there ended up being two elements with the same number if protons but different phisical properties due to some yet to be discovered reason.

Well, we already have a word for atoms with the same number of protons but differences in some other property: isotope. Whether a difference in something other than number of neutrons would use the term "isotope" or some other new term is a decision that will have to be made if and when the discovery is made.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

Hadlock (143607) | about 4 months ago | (#47717785)

What's it like, flunking high school physics?

Re:Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717883)

You mean flunking high school chemistry, the class where you memorize the periodic table. High school physics is about proving the law of gravity by throwing the teacher out the window.

Re:Yeah, so? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717901)

It means I collect 1960s space propaganda and believe that sci-fi is the same as engineering.

Re:Yeah, so? (1)

OneSmartFellow (716217) | about 4 months ago | (#47719575)

There might be another lighter element between lithium and hydrogen that we don't know about.

Lithium
Number of Protons/Electrons: 3
Number of Neutrons: 4


Hydrogen
Number of Protons/Electrons: 1
Number of Neutrons: 0


You are correct, there are quite a few possibilities for elements in between (whatever that really means), Many of those we call those Ions, but some are such unstable configurations (if they can exist at all) that as far as we are concerned, they don't really exist

Some of those possible combinations we refer to as Helium (or its Ions)

Welcome to 9th grade Chemistry.

non sequitur? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717537)

"Because if you remember your freshman chemistry, you think of the periodic table -- lithium is in the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table. Only hydrogen and helium are lighter on an atomic basis."

This is true, but I'm wondering if this is a non sequitur for electric batteries.

Okay, I admit being beyond my depth, but I have often wondered if lithium is necessarily the best choice. Yes, it's light, but might there be a more efficient choice based on some other elements with a different set of reduction potentials (i.e. a larger reduction potential gap between material x and y than LiPo has, for example)?

The goal is really about cost effective energy density rather than strictly the mass density of components. In fact, it's probably something like cost per J/g or something.

Re:non sequitur? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 months ago | (#47717907)

I wondered the same thing, so I read the article (sometimes it must be done).

He was making the point that lithium is not heavy. Other than that, it's hard to know what else he was trying to say, because the article doesn't give much context.

Of course, it's also possible that since he's just a spokesman, he doesn't have much else to say.

Re:non sequitur? (2)

Firethorn (177587) | about 4 months ago | (#47717927)

He was making the point that lithium is not heavy. Other than that, it's hard to know what else he was trying to say, because the article doesn't give much context.

I know it's not XKCD, but there's relevant SMBC [smbc-comics.com] and PHD [phdcomics.com] comics.

Roughly speaking, outside of very dedicated science reporting channels by the time you go from the scientist's representative trying to dumb it down, to the reporter trying to dumb it down, to the editor doing it yet again, accuracy sucks.

Maybe they're trying for a hydrogen battery?

Re:non sequitur? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 months ago | (#47717985)

Maybe they're trying for a hydrogen battery?

lol because hydrogen is lighter than lithium?

If you read the article, it does at least make clear what they are trying for. Their first priority is to make batteries cheaper (the range is already good enough to sell a lot, they feel, if the price goes down). Their second priority is to increase range, and they have some ideas that could increase range 400%, but they are not ready for production yet (they have problems like short battery life or whatever). Those are the things I could gather from the article.

As far as actual chemistry, there is nothing there.

Re:non sequitur? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about 4 months ago | (#47718203)

I did read the article, though not before my comment. In it was really nothing new. We've known for ages that with the development of the lithium ion battery that the only thing stopping EVs from being the obvious choice 90% of the time was the cost of the energy storage. From my research, if the giga-factory does succeed at cutting the cost of LiIon in half it's going to be a real game changer, and not just for the EV world.

Why? Last time I checked LiIon was down to below double that of Lead-Acid. That means that if you cut the price in half again lithium Ion will actually be cheaper than Lead-Acid.

That $100 car battery? A lithium-ion equivalent that's 1/10th the weight for the same capacity and probably even more cold cranking amps might be $80.

We've already seen the start of a revolution with nearly all cordless tools becoming LiIon devices rather than NiCd and NiMH.

Re:non sequitur? (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 4 months ago | (#47718223)

I did read the article, though not before my comment. In it was really nothing new.

Oh sorry about that, I should have pointed that out; I forgot to mention that the article isn't actually worth reading lol

Re:non sequitur? (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 4 months ago | (#47719045)

> That $100 car battery? A lithium-ion equivalent that's 1/10th the weight for the same
> capacity and probably even more cold cranking amps might be $80.

Sheesh. Why not also demand it be made out of unicorn tails and magic dust?

Li-ion is 1/3rd the weight. 1/3rd, not 1/10th. It doesn't have to be any lighter.

Li-ion also has less *power*. Be sure you understand the difference between *power* and *energy*. A li-ion battery will have *less* cranking amps, not more.

Re:non sequitur? (1)

Maury Markowitz (452832) | about 4 months ago | (#47719005)

> I know it's not XKCD, but there's relevant SMBC [smbc-comics.com] and PHD [phdcomics.com] comics.

Minor complaint with the second: we know from studies that the problem is not the university PR departments, but the researchers themselves.

Light but reactive element = high energy density (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 4 months ago | (#47718377)

"lithium is in the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table. Only hydrogen and helium are lighter on an atomic basis."

  I'm wondering if this is a non sequitur for electric batteries.

Not a non sequitur at all.

An important factor for batteries is energy density: How much energy is stored per unit mass. This is particularly important for electric cars: The higher the energy density, the less mass you havce to haul around for a given amount of "fuel", which means the less "fuel" is spent hauling your "fuel" around, so it's a more-than-linear improvement.

Lithium is both extremely light and a very reactive nonmetal. So you're talking about a lot of energy per unit mass for the lithium-based electrode's contribution to the reaction.

Re:Light but reactive element = high energy densit (1)

Trongy (64652) | about 4 months ago | (#47718407)

Lithium is a metal.

Re:Light but reactive element = high energy densit (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 4 months ago | (#47718631)

Lithium is a metal.

Oops. Right. Sorry.

Re:Light but reactive element = high energy densit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718501)

Thanks for replying. Can you address the rest of my post rather than simply taking my first sentence out of context?

Specifically, the inquiry regarding the possibility of better choices than lithium due to a potential increased difference in standard reduction potential leading to superior energy density vs lithium-based cells. If the energy density is increased sufficiently, it doesn't matter if the technology uses, say, lead instead of lithium because an equivalent battery pack would be lighter than a lithium one.

That was my post's question in a nutshell.

P.S. Simply asserting that lithium is a light metal is insufficient to support an argument to use it in a vehicle battery pack. That's the non sequitur.

Re:Light but reactive element = high energy densit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718531)

Volume is also important. If you can store as many picojoules in a hydrogen atom as in a lithium atom then still lithium is more useful as the same amount of hydrogen atoms is way bigger.
You don't want a 3 m3 battery, even if it is lighter.

Re:Light but reactive element = high energy densit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47719945)

Still, the 400 lb battery pack in the Chevy Volt only has the energy of about 1 gallon of gasoline. If you allow that electric motors are 5x more efficient, that's still only the equivalent of 5 gallons and it still takes all night to recharge. In my econo box, I can drive 300 miles, stop at a gas station, fill it up and be on my way in 10 minutes.

The economics don't make sense either (for now, at any rate). If you bought a Chevy Volt and operated it for 10 years, which would include 1 battery replacement, you could have bought a Chevy Cruz Eco, drive it for the same 10 years, then bought another one and still have money left over. (Based on EPA fuel economy estimates, normal maintenance and equal insurance.)

Re:non sequitur? (1)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47718833)

It is a non-sequiteur. The energy density of a li-ion battery doesn't even approach the theoretical maximum storage for the element lithium shifting between ionization states. That's hardly the only way this article is terrible, mind you. My head hurt every time they said the word "efficiency", it's like they were using it to mean everything possible except for actual efficiency. And if I read it right - who knows, the article is such a total mess - the researcher isn't talking about reducing battery cost, but increasing longevity. But maybe that was mangled too.

Re:non sequitur? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47719919)

So - cost per watt hour decreases? or does cost per weight decrease? one of the two could decrease in this scenario.

Fire (-1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about 4 months ago | (#47717585)

And lithium will burn aggressively in water. ripping the oxygen right out of the water molecules to do so, incidentally releasing hydrogen, which is also flammable if it ever escapes to the atmosphere.

There might just be aa safety concern.

Re:Fire (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 4 months ago | (#47717649)

...which is why we put them in self-driving cars that communicate with each other to avoid accidents.

Re:Fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717661)

......................hackers communicate with the self-driving cars to tell them to crash into each other.

Re:Fire (4, Informative)

mirix (1649853) | about 4 months ago | (#47717721)

So does Sodium. But do you notice how table salt doesn't burn in water?

There's no lithium metal in lithium /ion/ cells. The whole lithium catching on fire thing is to do with them having a rather volatile solvent as part of the electrolyte (something similar to ether).

Re:Fire (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#47717747)

Stop ruining his outburst with science.

Re:Fire (2)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about 4 months ago | (#47718153)

I missed that it was lithium *ion* cells.

-- hendrik

Re:Fire (3, Informative)

Trongy (64652) | about 4 months ago | (#47718381)

RTFA
It mentions they are trying to replace the lithium ion anode with "pure lithium" - i.e. lithium metal.

Re:Fire (1)

hendrikboom (1001110) | about 4 months ago | (#47719795)

Yes, so it does. I stand recorrected.

-- hendrik

Re:Fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47719645)

Table salt is NaCl, not pure sodium. Sodium will burn in contact with air.

Re:Fire (1)

Enigma2175 (179646) | about 4 months ago | (#47719707)

So does Sodium. But do you notice how table salt doesn't burn in water?

There's no lithium metal in lithium /ion/ cells. The whole lithium catching on fire thing is to do with them having a rather volatile solvent as part of the electrolyte (something similar to ether).

That's not necessarily true. When lithium batteries are charged at a low temperature, lithium metal plates the anode. This could certainly be a problem for electric cars, as they may not be in a warm garage as they are charging.

Re:Fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47720519)

I wonder if that is part of why the Tesla battery warranty has a void if kept in very low temperatures clause.

Re:Fire (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#47717741)

Elemental lithium does, yes.
Lithium compounds in batteries, not so much.

Re:Fire (3, Insightful)

gargleblast (683147) | about 4 months ago | (#47717807)

And that is why we should return to the safe, natural goodness of gasoline.

Re:Fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717891)

Considering the only alternatives are gasoline and hydrogen, it looks like all cars will be flammable for the near future.

Re:Fire (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | about 4 months ago | (#47718877)

Nuh uh! There are also compressed air cars - they only explosively decompress upon tank failure! ;)

At least with batteries, flammability or explosiveness aren't a fundamental requirement of how you're trying to propel the vehicle, just an unfortunate side effect of some variants of the technology (even not all types of li-ions are flammable). There's lots of people who assume that flammability is a consequence of electrical energy density, but that's just not the case. The actual charge/discharge lithium batteries via intercalating into the anode or cathode is more an atomic-scale equivalent of compressing air into a tank, you're having little affect on the substrate flammabilities and you're not even changing their chemical bonding, you're just cramming lithium ions into the space between their atoms. The flammabilty of some types comes from side effects, such as flammable electrolytes or membrane failures leading to lithium metal plating out; these aren't a fundamental aspect of the energy storage process.

Now, li-air, that involves an actual lithium metal electrode, and that is fundamentally flammable. Of course, so is gasoline. I have no doubt that they can reduce fire risks on li-air cells and keep them properly contained to prevent failure propagations. My bigger issues with li-air are its terrible efficiency, lifespan, and cost. I'm certain the latter would come down, and I expect that they can improve the lifespan, but I'm a bit uneasy about how much they can improve its efficiency. Right now, they're as inefficient as a fuel cell. : Who wants to waste three times as much power per mile as is necessary?

Re:Fire (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 4 months ago | (#47719711)

Nuh uh! There are also compressed air cars - they only explosively decompress upon tank failure! ;)

I propose that we go back to foot-powered automobiles as shown in that documentary called The Flintstones. Bonus: We'll save energy by getting all sorts of trained animals to do things for us instead of powering machines to do them.

Re:Fire (1)

umdesch4 (3036737) | about 4 months ago | (#47718419)

Well, you could always try making a battery with a lithium anode instead, that's coated with carbon nanospheres to stop it from reacting to stuff, and forming dendrites over time with charging and recharging. Funny thing is, Stanford's doing just that, and I believe I may have even gotten this link from slashdot a couple weeks ago: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_... [eurekalert.org]

Way Cool Jr, Ha ha Fucker (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717617)

Jeff Chamberlain explains, paraphrase " Yea like MAN, it's ... Chemistery ... Yea Rightous ... Electrons .... Then IONS. Yea the IONS have it. It's the smashing ... mashing ... mashing ... Yea a mash pit ... Smashing and Bumping .... Yea Mash It Up Baby ! ... Electrons ... Fizzing ... Zinging ... Wizing ! A real Hell on Earth ... OH what a cool name for a band ... Yea ... Rightous !

Re:Way Cool Jr, Ha ha Fucker (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717701)

Yeah Science, B-tch!

Lithium and the price of bananas. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47717757)

"The advent of lithium ion has truly enabled transportation uses," Chamberlain said. "Because if you remember your freshman chemistry, you think of the periodic table -- lithium is in the upper left-hand corner of the periodic table. Only hydrogen and helium are lighter on an atomic basis."

Well, now that we're clear as mud with this justification for using lithium, I guess I should try and figure out how I can get my helium-powered turbo bolted on to my engine. Or perhaps I should go with a hydrogen-powered supercharger instead.

Economic risk (1, Flamebait)

Michael Woodhams (112247) | about 4 months ago | (#47717771)

Some new game changing battery/supercapacitor breakthrough might be just around the corner. If so, all that investment in the battery megafactory could get wiped out. Ditto with investing in lithium mining.

So the megafactory might be still happily minting money 25 years from now, or it might be nearly worthless 5 years from now. Presumably this means we'll be paying a risk premium on lithium and lithium batteries. It seems to me that it would be smart for Tesla to be investing in the very technologies that might disrupt their factory, as an insurance policy. That way, if the fortune you've invested in the factory evaporates, hopefully you'll have a new replacement fortune due to having a stake in the new technology. However, this strategy requires that you have the funds for this speculative investment, and has you encouraging the very research which will ruin your factory investment. (Also, maybe you won't have invested in the right places and won't have a stake in the new technology.) In the case of Tesla, they are major consumers as well as (soon to be) major manufacturers of batteries, so there is an additional up-side to investing in the hypothetical tech breakthrough.

Is lithium mining expanding fast enough to feed this factory when it comes online?

Re:Economic risk (1)

goruka (1721094) | about 4 months ago | (#47717975)

Don't worry, the Lithiumpoly mafia will make sure that no alternative energy is economically viable in the next decades, so their business remains intact.

Re:Economic risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718063)

Nothing about how Tesla uses batteries requires them to keep using lithium ion. If something substantially better comes along, they'll just make that instead. Factories can be retooled.

Re:Economic risk (4, Informative)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 4 months ago | (#47718291)

Some new game changing battery/supercapacitor breakthrough might be just around the corner. If so, all that investment in the battery megafactory could get wiped out. Ditto with investing in lithium mining.

It's not much of a risk. Every single battery chemistry has been played with, at one time or another. And by that I mean rigorously and exhaustively scientifically investigated. In consequence, not only has everything been tried, but we now know what works and why it works. That's why it's science, and not merely engineering.

Lithium will always remain a preferential element because it's the element that is the strongest reducing agent in the periodic table, short of hydrogen, which is too hard to hold on to. The stronger the reducing agent, the higher the voltage a cell can develop and the better a battery can be. At the other end, you want a strong oxidizing agent. Fluorine would be ideal, if it wasn't such a viciously strong oxidizing agent that it eats your whole battery, not just the electrons you want it to. Presumably this situation is what the spokesdroid was referring to, without explaining what the hell he was talking about.

Lithium is the cathode of choice since it's a metal that can be conveniently nailed down while still possessing a very good electrode potential. As an ion, it's nicely compact, being the lightest of metals, so it migrates through a battery most conveniently. What to pair it with is a little more complicated, and the subject of much research. This is where manganese, cobalt, and carbon come in. Various combinations of those elements and their immediate neighbors on the periodic table are used to make anodes. Some work better than others. Some may work better yet depending on how they're assembled.

Rest assured, whatever develops in terms of battery assembly, lithium will remain the cathode, and much of the macroscopic assembly will be the same or close enough to the same that the gigafactory will always be busy. The assembly and packaging to be done is fairly common, regardless of chemistry.

Re:Economic risk (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | about 4 months ago | (#47718375)

Nicely written post, but you don't know what you're talking about.

Hydrogen is not the strongest reducing agent amount the stable elements. If you go by electronegativity it is cesium [thecatalyst.org] . Cesium is rather heavy, though.

Lithium would make a very good cathode (if we could just control the dendrites), but it's not what lithium-ion batteries use. Transition metal compounds are far from ideal for cathodes, but they have the advantage that we can make them work pretty well.

Lithium-sulfur is potentially the next battery after lithium-ion, if only we can make them last long enough.

Re:Economic risk (2, Interesting)

voights (919055) | about 4 months ago | (#47718703)

It isn't by electronegativity, though. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T... [wikipedia.org]

Re:Economic risk (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | about 4 months ago | (#47719435)

Calcium-ion looks like it has potential. -3.8V E-sub0.

Re:Economic risk (1)

fonske (1224340) | about 4 months ago | (#47719911)

Please note that the half reaction mentioned is Ca+. Mendelyev table will make mention of only one oxidation state namely Ca++.
This means the half reaction is very exotic and Ca+ is not stable at all.
The late Prof. Van Vaeck told me he observed Ca+ (at m/z 20) in dynamic SIMS but since transmission times of secondary ions to the detector are in the order of nanoseconds this might well be possible.
E0 of Ca2+ + 2e- = Ca is -2.869 V (compared to standard hydrogen cell).
Pretty decent still but... earth alkali salts are not as solluble as alkali (Li, Na, K...) salts.
There are however batteries with Ca salts.
I also want to mention that electronegativity is used in basic chemistry to make a difference between ionic bonding or covalent bonds and this has nothing to do with the (arbitrary relative scale (compared to standard hydrogen cell)) half reaction table.
Areyoukiddingme knows what he is talking about and mentioned the essence.

Re:Economic risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718349)

Is lithium mining expanding fast enough to feed this factory when it comes online?

Yes, but the Musktards around here are too invested to talk about the ugly parts, [mining.com] and they have lots of mod points to end it if you do.

Between the Lithium, Cobalt, Nickle and Graphite there will be plenty of fresh new dead zones appearing around the world, all conveniently far away from anyplace with an environmental regulation.

Re:Economic risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718573)

Google for "Simbol Materials", and then for "lithium brine deposits in southwestern wyoming". In China and in South America, they have to mine their lithium. Here, we are going to extract it CHEAPLY from very concentrated brine solutions. And it will be done at a fraction of the price elsewhere. And yes, Lithium has many other uses than just batteries.

As to lithium batteries, it IS possible that something better will come along. It is also POSSIBLE that you will be bit by a shark. In fact, it is even more PROBABLE that you will be bitten by a shark, then to have a new storage come along that is far superior that it forces Tesla to immediately drop the gigafactory.

Your fears are unfounded, but they are your fears.

where are we headed 5, 10, 15 yrs from now? (3, Interesting)

schlachter (862210) | about 4 months ago | (#47717947)

I think electric cars are the future. Some will debate me on that, but I'm not interested in that debate.

Where are we likely to be in 15 yrs? 2x current capacity? 4x current capacity? 10x current capacity? Where are the growing pains?

How much better/cheaper can lithium ion batteries get? What will they be replaced with? What's the end game?

Re:where are we headed 5, 10, 15 yrs from now? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718129)

Lithium-ion chemistry will go on for another 5 to 10 years according to Tesla, CTO. Elon Musk when asked if they could get a costs down to $100 a KwH within 10 years, he responded that he would be very disappointed if Tesla didn't. At $100 a KwH electric cars cost the same as gasoline powered cars. Tesla's current kWh cost is less than $300 currently according to the economist. My very wild guess would be in 10 years batteries will cost $50 a killowatt.

Re:where are we headed 5, 10, 15 yrs from now? (1)

Isca (550291) | about 4 months ago | (#47719897)

Don't forget that all of the old batteries that are returned to Tesla will probably go into large warehouses in rural areas where they can take those batteries that are only 70% of their effectiveness and use them for another 20 years as grid storage. I honestly think this is Elon's long term goal. Using them in transportation pays for the initial cost of the batteries - long term grid storage is what will make the money. Once the first few large scale grid storage "warehouses" come on line the financiers will join in to make purchasing your electric vehicle batteries a lease with the goal of making money over the long term, making it even cheaper for the EV owner to purchase them.

Re:where are we headed 5, 10, 15 yrs from now? (1)

schlachter (862210) | about 4 months ago | (#47720431)

I've heard this discussed before, and I can see a use case for it, but it seems like there are more efficient means to storing energy. Mechanical compression of gas, heating of water, kinetic motion like a flywheel, compressing a spring, etc. OTOH, the cars themselves can function as large scale grid storage, once they have sufficient excess range.

re: where are we headed 5, 10, 15 yrs from now? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718701)

The BMW i3 BEV uses Samsung Lithium batteries.

Interesting technology roadmap as summarized:
2013 / Convention LIB / NCM / 130Wh/kg / EV range 160 km
2016 / Advanced LIB / New NCM / 130Wh/kg / EV range 240 km
2019 / Innovative LIB / NCM / 250Wh/kg / EV range 300 km
2020+ / Post LIB / Li-Air Fuel Cell / GT 300Wh/kg / EV range GT 300 km

http://www.samsungsdi.com/automotive-battery/battery-cells

Hence your 2014 BEV with 160km range, when it needs a battery refresh post 2020, will travel 300km for same weight. So expect 2x range in 6 years.

oh sure! (1)

silfen (3720385) | about 4 months ago | (#47717993)

They'll make electric cars dramatically cheaper just like they brought us fusion reactors!

I'll believe it.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 months ago | (#47718083)

... when I can buy an all-electric car that is just as sexy and just as performant as the Tesla Model S for under about $45k in today's dollars.

Re:I'll believe it.... (3, Insightful)

Chrisq (894406) | about 4 months ago | (#47718661)

... when I can buy an all-electric car that is just as sexy and just as performant as the Tesla Model S for under about $45k in today's dollars.

By the time they do that driving a car manually will be illegal and you might not even own a car - just call one for each trip.

Re:I'll believe it.... (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 4 months ago | (#47718771)

You do know that the Model S right now, is the cheapest car in it's class right ?
Or do you think "floor price" is the only price that comes into calculating the price of a car. Nearly all cars have higher maintenance costs over their lifetime than the floor-price, the second-hand price is a huge factor (the more value lost, the worst it works out when you want to upgrade) and of course the fuel cost.
Factor all those in and the model S is cheaper than any other car in the luxury sedan class - and offers out-of-the-box far more features than any you can get for the same price.

The best second hand car to buy in my country, South Africa, right now is the BMW 3xx Diesel. This is because
1) Those cars have a very long life
2) Being built locally - they are adjusted to the quality of our roads - excellent cars like Renaults or Chevolet's just don't LAST here.
3) A second-hand BMW 3-series, now about 10 years old, can be resold in 5 years for about 90% of what you pay for it ( which is not much).
4) It has absolutely top of the range luxury and safety features.

In fact, buying that 10 year old BMW works out MUCH cheaper than buying a brand-new car for R10K more, because the car you can GET for R10K more is going to be something like a fiat palio or or other bottom-of-the-range car that will lose far more value as you drive it off the lot, cost you a LOT more in maintenance and uses a much more expensive fuel - and it will be a much less safe car to drive.

My 8 year old Audi A3 is pretty much the second best choice right now after the BMW, but when I upgrade in the near future (now that I have a kid, a four-door becomes valuable) I will probably look at BMW.

There is SO much more to calculating the price of a car than the number written on the windscreen at the dealer - and when you actually DO those sums - there is NO car that's comparable to the model-S in features (or anywhere close) that isn't FAR more expensive a vehicle to own.

In the meantime battery costs will keep plummeting - just the scale-up in production alone will ensure that, throw in improved engineering in the batteries themselves and you're set for a few years of huge drops. Since the battery right now is the most expensive part of the Model-S - don't be surprized if even the sticker price drops dramatically over the next few years.

Frankly if I am ever stupid enough to buy a NEW car in my life, I won't consider doing that with anything EXCEPT a Tesla, it's literally the ONLY car that offers anything that even VAGUELY resembles value for money if you buy it new.

Re:I'll believe it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47719319)

You are aware that BMW has one of the highest maintence costs out there, right? My friend got rid of his 3 series when he got sick of the $140 oil changes. And boy, didn't he love it when the window fell into the door for no reason, apparently a well known issue. God help you if anything actually breaks, parts are expensive. If you want cheap total cost of ownership, if you live in the US, get a ford focus. They're fairly reliable and dirt cheap to get parts for. Plus they cost about 15K less for initial purchase. If you don't live in the US, then I can't help you.

And tesla, you realize that's based entirely on "cult of tesla" and not the actual cars, right? If this entire thread is correct and battery prices are going to plummet in the near future, a tesla bought now is going to lose a lot of value as better batteries come on to the market.

All in all, though, conventional wisdom holds, cars, unless classic cars, aren't investments. You're going to lose money on them. All you can do is try to minimize how much.

Re:I'll believe it.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 months ago | (#47719335)

The main thing that the Tesla model S offers over any other electric vehicle is its range. Over much less expensive electric vehicles, the main things are that it has a respectable size, and that it doesn't look like a piece of shit *cough, prius, leaf*. However, the *ONLY* thing that it would offer me over absolutely any other kind of brand new car that I could go out buy for roughly half that price is that it is electric.

In other words, although I don't dispute that the Tesla model S is a luxury automobile, I would argue that if the price of making electric cars actually were to really come down, then I would suggest that it will also eventually be theoretically possible for a manufacturer to come out with a car that could probably compete quite well against the Tesla in terms of what it offers the consumer for a heck of a lot lot less money. I'm also saying that I don't think the latter will actually ever happen in reality. That despite it maybe becoming possible to do, I'm suggesting that purely electric cars that aren't ugly to look at, and actually have a decent range are probably permanently stuck in the "luxury class" and the allegation that we'd genuinely ever see them getting any cheaper in the future is nothing but a pipe dream, even though they will offer nothing that you can't get from a considerably less expensive car other than the fact that it's electric and whatever appeal that might exist based on branding.

Re:I'll believe it.... (1)

silentcoder (1241496) | about 4 months ago | (#47719383)

So you want a non-luxury electric car and you think that's unlikely ?
Except Tesla has already announced plans for one.

The Model-S just isn't the right one to look at.

Re:I'll believe it.... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 months ago | (#47720277)

Tesla has already announced plans for one.

A smaller car, with less range.

Re:I'll believe it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47719113)

You really can afford the $800 a month car payment that a $45K car requires? Or are you going to be stupid and get a car loan that is longer than 48 months?

New battery (yawn) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47718697)

Another 'new battery' article. I've read about a trillion (feels like it) of those lately.

I'm developing a helium battery, if it's big enough, your car can fly.

What a terrible article.... (4, Insightful)

Wdi (142463) | about 4 months ago | (#47718899)

The weight of lithium is pretty irrelevant. There are no currently existing battery technologies where Li is more than 10% of the total weight of the battery, and standard battery types are significantly below that. If the active ion weight were the prime factor, there would be more interest in beryllium batteries (just 30% more weight vs. twice the charge per ion).

Slashvertisement for Tesla (2)

brambus (3457531) | about 4 months ago | (#47718999)

Tesla Motors, Inc. Is Itching for More and Better Batteries by: Anders Bylund

And then at the very bottom of the article:

Anders Bylund owns shares of Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool recommends General Motors and Tesla Motors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Tesla Motors. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

God I hate these ad pieces disguised as news.

Re:Slashvertisement for Tesla (1)

chihowa (366380) | about 4 months ago | (#47720129)

That's just a standard disclaimer. Who doesn't own shares of Tesla Motors? The Motley Fool probably owns some shares of almost every company they'd report on. That doesn't make it an ad.

Re:Slashvertisement for Tesla (1)

brambus (3457531) | about 4 months ago | (#47720457)

Founded in 1993 in Alexandria, Va., by brothers David and Tom Gardner, The Motley Fool is a multimedia financial-services company dedicated to building the world's greatest investment community.

And these guys put up an article about the bright future of the technology of a company they hold stock in. Don't you see that as a bit of a conflict of interest? Of course they're not terribly motivated to mention the potential downsides and limitations of the technology. From where they're standing, it's all peaches and roses!
This isn't news for nerds, it's a promotional piece for a product (Tesla stock).

They are a bit nutty.... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 4 months ago | (#47719109)

The battery pack is not the bulk of the price of an electric car. It's all the other bits.
So it is not going to drive down the price, not by any reasonable amount.

What is needed is a single company making the motors and standardization. If the Govt demanded that all cars follow a standard motor design then suddenly costs will drop. Ford,GM,Toyota,Honda are NOT going to standardize unless forced to. And prices will not drop until there is a standard that is interchangeable.

Re:They are a bit nutty.... (2)

Rhywden (1940872) | about 4 months ago | (#47720225)

You're wrong there. The VW Up exists as both a pure electric and pure gasoline version. The difference in price? 10,000€

That's the price for the battery. In the case of the Up it almost doubles the price (from 12,000€ to 22,000€). And "all the other bits" being expensive? Seriously?

With the switch to pure electric you just god rid of the following: The alternator which provides the energy for all the gizmos in a normal gasoline car. And, more importantly, the transmission, one of the most complicated and intricate mechanical pieces in a car with a combustion engine.

Two complicated parts of the car, just poof! gone like that. The engine itself also just became way more easy - you don't need carefully timed pistons. You don't need the 3-way catalysator and the lambda probe. And so on and so forth. Hell, if you wanted to you could let each of the 4 wheels be driven by a separate motor! (which gets rid of the need for a differential!).

Lithium shortage (1)

GuB-42 (2483988) | about 4 months ago | (#47720413)

Won't we run into some kind of lithium shortage if the demand for li-ion batteries raises ?
Or at least a increase in raw material price offsetting the decrease in manufacturing costs.

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