Lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles: what challenges?

This data-file tabulates the greatest challenges for lithium ion batteries in electric vehicles, which have been cited in 2020’s patent literature. Specifically, the work contains a sample of 100 patents aiming to overcome these challenges, as filed by companies including Tesla, CATL, GM, GS Yuasa, LG, Nissan, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sumitomo, Toyota, et al.

(1) The industry is now more focused on execution than radical technology breakthroughs. c40% of patents were focused on simplifying manufacturing (#1). Only 27% were focused on energy density (#3) and these were mostly small incremental tilts.

(2) Pursuit of the “million mile battery” is substantiated by a heavy focus on avoiding battery degradation (#2) and improving resiliency (#4), especially in CATL’s impressive patents.

(3) Trade offs. Greater energy density often comes at the cost of safety risks (#5) or degradation. Greater longevity often comes at the cost of lower power and slower charging. So be wary of “breakthroughs” heralded on any one dimension until all of the trade-offs are clear.

(4) Electric semi-trucks are unlikely (we prefer supercapacitors). Many patents noted great challenges scaling up larger battery packs, which adds complexity, cost and safety risks.

(5) The future problems are likely the ones on the right hand side of the chart: The industry is still exerting less focus on battery recycling, energy intensity or maintenance.
Deeper technical details on all of the points above are elaborated in the data-file…

Deeper technical details on all of the points above are elaborated in the data-file, as well as other challenges for lithium ion batteries.

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