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AI Analyses of Battery Tech Call Graphene Batteries ‘Disruptive’
Focus’ report on the future of EV battery technologies shows graphene battery tech as having unmatched potential.
January 10, 2024
3 Min Read
AI-powered technology forecasts the future of EV tech batteries.Blue Planet Studio/ iStock / Getty Images Plus
As the electric vehicle (EV) industry surges forward, the spotlight is on the next battery technology. Insights of the future of battery technologies are unveiled by Focus—an AI-powered technology forecasting company—in a report titled “State of Charge.” Leveraging artificial intelligence, this report presents surprising results that redefine our understanding of the future battery technologies. Join us as we explore the report’s highlights next.
Not quite a disruptive technology
The term "disruptive technology" is often associated with innovations that exhibit significantly higher and consistent improvement rates, challenging the norm. Solid-state lithium batteries have long been hailed as a promising alternative to traditional lithium-ion chemistries. The idea of a solid-state design brings expectations of improved safety, increased energy density, and faster charging times.
Unfortunately, for solid-state lithium batteries, the results provided by Focus suggest a different reality. With a 31% Year-over-year (YoY) improvement speed, solid-state lithium does not stand out as a disruptive force compared to traditional lithium-ion chemistries.
EV battery technologies readiness levels (TRL). Courtesy of Focus.
Even though 31% YoY is a notable improvement, it falls short compared to the astonishing rates in the report about other emerging technologies, such as graphene batteries.
Graphene batteries: The disruptive force
In contrast to solid-state lithium batteries, the report highlights graphene batteries as a disruptive force in the making. Graphene batteries boast an impressive improvement rate of 49% YoY, significantly outpacing solid-state lithium. This sets graphene batteries on a trajectory that associates with the characteristics of disruptive technologies.
But Focus states that to make these batteries a reality, the production cost of graphene needs to decrease significantly. High-quality graphene costs $200,000 per ton, equivalent to $200 per kilo. A reasonable assumption is that for graphene to be attractive for battery incorporation, its price needs to reach levels similar to lithium, which is currently at $16 per kilo and expected to drop to around $11 per kilo. Focus's forecasting method indicates a 36.5% YoY improvement in graphene production. With this projection, it's anticipated that by about 2031, graphene production will become cost-effective enough to be integrated into battery chemistries, making it a technology worth monitoring closely.
By 2031, graphene production will become cost-effective enough to be integrated into battery chemistries. Courtesy of Focus.
Focus has developed a quantitative method for forecasting the technological future by leveraging metrics visible in global patent data. Harnessing the latest advancements in AI technology, the company claims to have built a system capable of estimating the pace of improvement in any given technological domain. This innovative approach enables Focus to provide insightful analyses and predictions for advancements in various technology areas.
According to Focus, the method revolves around three key steps:
1. Focus identifies every patent related to an area of technology using AI. The resulting dataset represents the entire developmental history of an area of technology.
2. Once this dataset is created, Focus measures two key metrics.
a. Cycle Time - How many years it takes for a technology to produce a new generation of itself.
b. Knowledge Flow - How significant of a step forward a new generation represents.
3. Using the above metrics, Focus calculates the 'Technology Improvement Rate' (TIR), which represents the average percentage (%) increase in performance per dollar that can be expected from an area of technology in one year.
As we navigate the future of battery technologies, it becomes clear that not all promising innovations are equal. While solid-state lithium batteries hold theoretical promise, their improvement speed raises questions about their disruptive potential. On the other hand, graphene batteries emerge as a frontrunner, poised to reshape the EV industry. The journey ahead is dynamic, and industry players must carefully consider the trajectories of emerging technologies to stay at the forefront of this transformative era.
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