Demand for lithium is expected to outpace global supply as consumers switch to battery-powered vehicles. With China currently leading in processing of the vital raw material, the U.S. government is looking to boost domestic production. Photo illustration: Carlos Waters/WSJ
Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere — in phones, laptops, tablets, cameras and increasingly cars. Demand for lithium-ion batteries has risen sharply in the past five years and is expected to grow from a $44.2 billion market in 2020 to a $94.4 billion market by 2025, mostly due to the boom in electric cars.
And a shortage of lithium-ion batteries is looming in the U.S. Former Tesla CTO and Elon Musk’s right-hand man, JB Straubel, started Redwood Materials in 2017 to help address the need for more raw materials and to solve the problem of e-waste. The company recycles end-of-life batteries and then supplies battery makers and auto companies with materials in short supply as EV production surges around the world. Straubel gave CNBC an inside look at its first recycling facility in Carson City, Nevada. Watch the video to learn why battery recycling will be an essential part in making EV production more sustainable.
U.S. automakers are finally making bold commitments to electrify their fleets, but in the short-term, there may not be enough lithium-ion batteries to go around. While China dominates the battery manufacturing supply chain, and Europe is working to catch up, the U.S. still lags far behind.
As batteries become a matter of energy independence and national security, here’s what the U.S. can do to catch up. As automakers continue to grapple with a semiconductor shortage, some experts say the next supply chain crisis for the U.S. could involve lithium-ion batteries. As companies like GM, Ford and a slew of start-ups are ramping up their electric vehicle ambitions, current battery production in the U.S. will not be able to keep up with demand.
A Tesla Supercharger is a 480-volt direct currentfast-charging technology built by American vehicle manufacturer Tesla, Inc. for their all-electric cars. The Supercharger network was introduced on September 24, 2012 with six Supercharger stations. As of December 31, 2020, Tesla operates over 23,277 Superchargers in over 2,564 stations worldwide (an average of 9 chargers per station). There are 1,101 stations in North America, 592 in Europe, and 498 in the Asia/Pacific region. Supercharger stalls have a connector to supply electrical power at maximums of 72 kW, 150 kW or 250 kW.
The original V1 and V2 Tesla supercharging stations charge with up to 150 kW of power distributed between two cars with a maximum of 150 kW per car, depending on the version. They take about 20 minutes to charge to 50%, 40 minutes to charge to 80%, and 75 minutes to 100% on the original 85 kWh Model S. The charging stations provide high-power direct-current (DC) charging power directly to the battery, bypassing the internal charging power supply.
In September 2017, Tesla announced the availability of urban Superchargers. The urban Superchargers are more compact than the standard Supercharger stalls, and will be primarily deployed in urban areas such as mall parking lots and garages. Compared to the standard Superchargers, urban Superchargers have a maximum power delivery of 72 kW. Instead of 150 kW distributed between two vehicles at a Supercharger A/B stall pair, each Urban Supercharger stall provides dedicated 72 kW capacity.
A few of the Tesla supercharging stations use solar panels to offset energy use and provide shade. Tesla plans to install additional solar power generation at Superchargers.
The U.S. electric grid is outdated. Designed for a world that runs on fossil fuels, our grid needs some major tech upgrades in order to transition to a more distributed, all-renewable system. That means smart, internet connected hardware working in tandem with advanced data analytics software to ensure that supply and demand are balanced, even when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing.
This week, machine learning helps batteries charge faster, and using bacterial nanowires to generate electricity from thin air.
In this episode:
00:46 Better battery charging
A machine learning algorithm reveals how to quickly charge batteries without damaging them. Research Article: Attia et al.
07:12 Research Highlights
09:21 Harnessing humidity
A new device produces electricity using water in the air. Research Article: Liu et al.
16:30 News Chat
Coronavirus outbreak updates, the global push to conserve biodiversity, and radar reveals secrets in an ancient Egyptian tomb. News: Coronavirus: latest news on spreading infection; News: China takes centre stage in global biodiversity push
Feb.18 — In the series “EVs: The Brink of Change”, Bloomberg’s Alix Steel breaks down electric vehicles – what’s in them, how they work, their range, and cost of certain models.
From a UChicago News online article:
Three-quarters of a century later, at age 97, Goodenough will become the oldest person to receive the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. At a Dec. 10 ceremony in Sweden, he will be honored for pioneering breakthroughs that led to the widespread use of the lithium-ion battery—and helping spark the wireless revolution. The descendants of his batteries now power modern smartphones and hold the potential to one day sustainably harvest solar and wind power.
John B. Goodenough can still remember, word for word, what a University of Chicago professor told him when he arrived on campus following World War II: “I don’t understand you veterans,” said John A. Simpson, a new UChicago instructor who had just helped achieve the first nuclear reaction. “Don’t you know that anyone who has ever done anything significant in physics had already done it by the time he was your age—and you want to begin?”