Advances in Battery and Energy Storage Technologies

Kevin Parmenter, Director, Applications Engineering. TSC, America



Kevin Parmenter, Director, Applications Engineering. TSC, America

­A June 2023 report by Precedence Research valued the global battery market size at $121 billion in 2023. According to the research firm McKinsey and Company, this market is projected to grow to $400 billion by 2030.

Lithium-ion batteries dominate today’s battery market. Found in everything from smartphones to electric vehicles, these electrochemical devices offer a winning combination of energy density, longevity, and rechargeability. Accelerating this technology is the electrification of transportation. Electric vehicle companies like Tesla are incentivized to improve lithium-ion battery technologies to lower costs and enhance performance while increasing global production capacity.

Meanwhile, limitations and challenges persist in today’s battery market. For instance, consumer adoption of EV transportation relies heavily on developing efficient, eco-friendly batteries capable of storing and delivering energy reliably, while shaving weight and size (cost) as much as possible. Also, battery degradation over time remains a concern, leading researchers to explore alternative materials and chemistries to improve longevity.

Addressing the environmental impact of battery production and disposal remains a pressing concern. Reliance on rare earth elements like cobalt raises ethical, environmental and geo-political questions, resulting in efforts to develop greener, more sustainable battery solutions. The need for recycling is another issue, spurring initiatives to recover valuable materials from spent batteries. As a result, there is research into novel materials and new manufacturing processes that can mitigate environmental harm.

Alternative storage devices offer promising alternatives to lithium-ion batteries in specific applications. One such innovation is the solid-state battery, which replaces the flammable liquid electrolyte of traditional lithium-ion cells with a solid electrolyte. Solid-state batteries promise enhanced safety, higher energy density, and faster charging rates, potentially revolutionizing industries from consumer electronics, to industrial, automotive, and aerospace applications.

Supercapacitors represent another exciting energy storage technology. Unlike batteries, which store energy electrochemically, supercapacitors store energy electrostatically, enabling rapid charging and discharging cycles. While currently limited by lower energy densities compared to batteries, supercapacitors excel in applications requiring high power output and rapid energy transfer, such as regenerative braking in hybrid vehicles and smoothing out power fluctuations in renewable energy systems. At the other end of the extreme, supercapacitors can be used as storage elements for energy harvesting applications.

In the future, demand for advanced energy storage solutions will only increase. Collaboration between industry, academia and governments will be crucial. Investments in research and development, combined with supportive policies and regulations, will be necessary to accelerate innovation. And, of course, there is a need to improve all aspects of battery charging. Advances in cell balancing, monitoring and the protection of energy storage will require power electronics to keep it all going and growing.