After the first commercial lithium-ion battery was introduced in 1991, lithium-ion technology is now the cornerstone of the entire battery industry. Now, the revolution of the industry is looming again and it can boost existing battery capacities by up to 40%, with commercial introduction slated for 2020.
According to the latest information, the battery capability will be boosted from 700Wh/L (lithium-ion) to 1,000Wh/L (lithium-sulfur). This claim does not seem to reflect the actual state of lithium-ion battery capacities in the real world, nor the vast majority of the charts and graphs that measure lithium-ion battery performance.
The reason lithium-ion batteries stretch over such a vast range is because different devices and applications require very different chemistries and formulations. Lithium-ion devices designed to deliver high amounts of power tend to have low energy density, while batteries that deliver a small amount of power can pack far more energy per unit volume. The general target of a 40% improvement by 2020, however, could turn the corner on widespread battery adoption.
How this new battery technology would perform in relation to well-established lithium-ion is unknown, but magnesium is more abundant in the Earth’s crust, doesn’t react in air, and is relatively easy to mine.
It took years for lithium-ion to move from niche applications to broad availability, and we expect there would be a learning curve for lithium-sulfur as well.