Will We Ever Have a Big Battery Breakthrough?


As I was doing some grass trimming today with my electric weed wacker, I knew my time was limited.

The battery is only good for about 10-15 minutes of trimming, which isn’t quite enough to finish my whole yard. As a result, I always have to take the battery off and recharge it, which takes a good 8 hours in return for 15 minutes of usage.

Now this is a not a rant about using an electric grass trimmer compared to a gas-powered one. Despite its shortcomings, I would not hesitate to buy another cordless grass trimmer.

In fact, my hope is that someday every appliance I have – grass trimmer, lawnmower, coffeemaker, car, drill, screwdriver, toothbrush, desktop computer, etc., will be battery powered.

While there are already battery-driven versions of everything I listed (well, I’m not sure about the coffeemaker), the major problem with most of these devices is the life of the battery.

It seems like the problem of longer battery life has taken on greater importance over the past couple of years, but making such improvements is apparently a slow, incremental approach.

Steve Levine recently published a book, The Powerhouse: Inside the Invention of a Battery to Save the World about current developments in the world of batteries.

Christopher Mims has written a couple of interesting articles in the Wall Street Journal this past year looking at the state of battery technology:

Our One Wish? Longer Battery Life and
Tech World Vexed by Slow Progress on Batteries 

And then we have Elon Musk.

The CEO of Tesla Motors recently announced a line of home and industrial battery packs. Its home model, called “power wall,” will be aimed at people who want to more efficiently use power from solar panels or go entirely off the electrical grid. The larger home model can store enough electricity to power a home for 10 hours.

Musk also announced in 2013 his plans to build a gigafactory that would allow Tesla to manufacture mountains of lithium ion batteries, and not just for use in Teslas.

So we have some of the greatest minds working on this problem, so I am confident that we will see positive results from these technologies in a relatively short time period, but I am not expecting a dramatic breakthrough.

But for now, I’d just be happy if my iPhone’s battery would last more than a day…


2 thoughts on “Will We Ever Have a Big Battery Breakthrough?

  1. Last I heard it was the battery holding back a lot of solar developments. Especially vehicles
    I agree about the smart phones, what a total pain to have to constantly charge them!

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