Moores law - how will it apply to batteries or battery technology?

Moores law - how will it apply to batteries or battery technology?

In short for almost 50 years we haw seen that cpu has doubled each 18 month according to Moores law.

I know that this law does not apply to batteries - but as we see even more orders are filed and that demand is still high one would expect battery technology to take some big leaps in the years to come.

What would we need in order to double the capacity?

Will other companies jump into this market with groundbreaking news or products any time soon? Or will we see new manufacturers that will offer things like 3rd party upgrades? For many years there have been several companies world wide that have made a living of doing rebuilds of engines. Like you get a rather low price if you buy your newly rebuild engine, build to factory spec and in return you must leave your old motor to them.

As batteries will hold value even when used - I assume there will companies that will jump into this market.
Maybe they have their own technology, maybe they license batteries from an independent factory or business partner. I could really see that there will be a market there. They provide EV owners with new and improved batteries - the customers pay and leave their old battery to the them to due with as they find best.

What do you think? Where will battery technology go in the next 5 years? How far can we drive in 5 years? Or how fast can we go?

Corrected the heading thanks to Brian H :)

jat | April 2, 2013

I think you mean Moore's Law.

Battery technology has made incredible gains in the last decade as small portable devices have proliferated, and their power draw has gone up as well. I expect that to continue, but I don't really expect any massive breakthrough.

LarsT | April 2, 2013

It is Moore'sLaw that you refer to. Murphys Law is quite different: Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong sometime.

torst1 | April 2, 2013

Yes you are both correct - I am so ashamed :(

But even so what do yo think? What will we see over the next 5 years?

jat | April 2, 2013

Elon has said they have seen batteries get 20% more capacity for 80% of the price year-over-year for a while and expects that to continue. I am sure that is how they expect to sell a GenIII for ~$30k with a 200mi range.

JZ13 | April 2, 2013

@jat - I hope you are correct.

However, I just spoke with a good buddy who designs chip sets for Qualcomm. He has been working with lithium ion batteries for a decade. Unfortunately, his take is different. He says that lithium ion batteries for cell phones have generally the same power as 10 years ago. What has changed is that their chips pull less electricity to run so that is what has increased the efficiency.

I don't know if Tesla is able to figure out how to push a car through air using less electricity. My buddies argument is that batteries are raw mateials with certain properties. Technology cannot change the laws of physics. I know that Tesla uses innovative methods to maximize the batteries efficiency such as temperature management, conductivity and layout of the batteries.

Before this conversation I was of the opinion that we would continue to see rapid advancement in battery efficiency from Tesla. Now I'm not so sure.

Nicu.Mihalache | April 2, 2013

@, no he never said that; most of the time he says that it usually is 7-8% improvement; he said once that for the next 2-3 years it is more like 10%, as he can look up the product pipelines at partners

keep in mind that if both improvements are simultaneous, (price / kWh and kWh / kg) they combine and if you carry a lighter battery, you only need a smaller / lighter car, which needs less battery capacity to go the same distance; so yes, Gen III is at about a 4 year horizon :)

jat | April 2, 2013

@JZ13 - I disagree, as home/work laptops have doubled the power they draw over the past 10 years, while also doubling battery life (except for the Macs, which burn through batteries quick). We certainly have improved the performance per watt, but overall the power consumption still goes up.

JZ13 | April 2, 2013

I'm not a chipset engineer but I've heard today's chipsets draw far less power than a decade ago. Plus there are no more dvd drives which drain battery power. Screen's have become more efficient. I think this is what has extended laptop battery lives. If you are comparing lithium ion laptop batteries from 10 years ago they likely have similar electricity storage.

July10Models | April 2, 2013

Most laptops from 10 years ago had NiMH batteries and saw improvements when manufacturers switched to Li-ion packs.There is a platera of nano techs like improve cathode surface area that will significantly improve charge density of Li-ion in the next few years.

Brian H | April 2, 2013


torst1, you can hover over the logo and select Edit and change Murphy to Moore. On any post, the original poster can do this.

crttnarayan | April 2, 2013

Not much room left for improvement in Li-ion energy density. The best cells are at 250 Wh/Kg and cannot go much above 300. So no Moore's law possible. Only 2 promising technologies seem to be available. One is Li-sulfur and the other is Li-air (actually oxygen). Both many years away from commercialization. The leader in Li-air research is IBM ( See bottom left on page, it will say Battery 500. So whe that kicks I you will see a step change in cost or energy density.

torst1 | April 2, 2013



I don't about Li-ion more then any other battery. If li-ion is stretched as far as it will ever go it makes not much sense to keep investing big chunks into it. Discarding it would be stupid as it does work - but surely there will be some other technological breakthroughs even if li-ion have reached it's peak. And if you know this for a fact others do to. So then we can look forward to see other ways of storing energy then li-ion.

But are you sure there are no feasible ways to squeeze out an extra 10-15% of those batteries? Tesla done much already but I am not certain we seen it all yet. Maybe there is still clever ways to get more out of this well known source. And that would be a major case - cause the plants are already there, production lines are already running, and minor changes to production lines will come at a low cost compared to set up all new lines for technology that is not even mature yet. Which in the end could lead to lower prices - yet more capacity.

Andre-nl | April 3, 2013

JZ13, your friend is wrong.

crttnarayan, you are wrong too ;)

What is vital to understand that Lithium Ion is not the name of a battery type, but actually of a whole class of batteries. There are many different chemistries, each with different properties. Some have higher energy density, others are optimised for fast charging or long cycle life. Batteries can be improved both by optimising current chemistries (we have not reached theoretical limits on them) and by researching new ones.

One promising anode material is for example silicon. It can yield an energy density that is multiple times that of current batteries. But that is just one example. Much, much more is being investigated in the labs. Graphene for example is emerging as a new 'wonder material' that can yield great benefits. Much progress has been made in the past years reducing the production cost of graphene.

So no, lithium ion batteries are not even close to their limit.

Andre-nl | April 3, 2013

As an example of what improvements are (at least theoretically) possible:

"Over the long term, the Fraunhofer team expects to reach a practical energy density of up to 600 Wh/kg. By comparison, the maximum energy density of the lithium-ion batteries currently in use is around 250 Wh/kg."

tsx_5 | April 3, 2013


Ford (the car company) would disagree with your assessment on lithium ion...

Andre-nl | April 3, 2013

tsx_5, I can not find anything in the article where Ford disagrees with me.

I was not arguing that there are no theoretical limits to Lithium Ion. I was responding to JZ13 and crttnarayan, who suggested that we are close the limit already. This is not the case. I would say that there is still room for a considerable improvement of energy density over today's batteries.

The article you linked to says: "but could tap out its promise by the end of the next decade." That is still 17 years away. That is a long time. 17 years ago we didn't even have the EV1. 'End of next decade' is a WAG anyway. The article says nothing concrete about where the limit is.

Andre-nl | April 3, 2013

Oops, the article is already 4 years old, and end of next decade seems to be 4 years away. Anyway, all that is besides the point. The fact that energy densities of > 500 Wh/kg are a reality already in the lab is proof that we are not close to the limits of Lithium Ion today.

torst1 | April 3, 2013

Well look at this - now li-ion suddenly seems even more promising.
While a double of capacity would be splendid I am not a greedy person. Heck even a 20% raise in capacity while costs drops the same would be yet another milestone. Looks like we have much to look forward to in the foreseeable future. And according to what Andre-nl claims I am sure we will see both 3rd parties that will offer upgrades and an even more competitive battery market overall that will make sure the price of batteries will continue to drop while capacity, charging time and lifeline will increase.

Just imagine where we are in 5-10 years. Our kids future sure looks brighter.

crttnarayan | April 3, 2013

@Andre and JZ13. The 600 Wh/Kg you mention is for a Li-sulfur system. That is what I said in my post. Li-ion cannot be pushed much beyond 300. So still a 20-30% headroom left . I know the team that worked Si electrode you mention. Unlike other battery systems Li-ion requires both anode and cathode developments to make system level improvements. Most of the data reported is for one or the other but not integrating both. I am hopeful too :)

MandL | April 3, 2013

You guys can talk all the scientific mumbo jumbo you want, but I insist that when my 8 year battery warranty is up I should be able to buy a 2500 mile range replacement that charges from 10% - 90% in five minutes (still free for life of course).

Brian H | April 3, 2013

Don't forget the source and the 'pipeline'. That's a honkin' big current to be swallowing. About 3 MW. If you had a garden hose and a firehose, which could you drink faster from?