Battery Energy Density to Equal Gasoline by 2045: Report

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Battery Energy Density to Equal Gasoline by 2045: Report

The energy density of today’s automotive batteries does not compare very favorably to good old gasoline. However, researchers and scientists are continually pushing to improve the range and storage capacity of EVs.

And their hard work is paying off. According to the Argonne National Laboratory, the energy density of batteries should reach parity with fossil fuel by the year 2045. That means we’re just three decades away from electrified automotive nirvana, or so the popular narrative goes.

Unfortunately, things aren’t as favorable for EVs today. Directly comparing lithium-ion capacity to an identical amount of gasoline reveals that this battery technology only holds about 1 percent as much energy. But not so fast.

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According to the report, this common comparison isn’t accurate because internal-combustion engines are much less efficient than electric motors. In short, EVs need less energy to travel the same distance because they aren’t as wasteful.

Powertrain mass and efficiency matter in these equations as is stated in the paper: “The energy density of gasoline is about 100 times greater than that of a battery, but this does not mean that BEVs will have to weigh more than conventional vehicles to be able to run the same distance.”

In any event, researchers at the Argonne National Lab estimate that by 2045 battery-electric vehicles will compare very favorably to conventional vehicles “in terms of the energy spent at the wheel per kilogram of the powertrain mass.” This is because batteries and other components will continue to get lighter and more efficient.

[Source: Argonne National Laboratory]

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  • DoubleCoppers

    Wow. *Only* 30 more years to reach the same energy density as gasoline–IF all those projected technology breakthroughs actually occur. How much money and pollution will all that research cost? This report from Argonne Labs sounds suspiciously like it is designed to keep those people employed for the next 30 years.

  • Bear in mind the roughly 80 to 100 year headstart gas power has on battery power. Electrics started off strong at the beginning of the 20th, and then got buried by internal combustion because that’s where the moneyed interests wanted to invest. And I would be willing to compare the annual pollution generated by electrics research against the annual pollution generated by annual petroleum fuel usage anytime.

    Also, the more efficient solar and wind energy production gets, the more it will displace fossil fuels as a source of electricity.

  • DoubleCoppers

    Your timeline and statements are not supported by the facts. The 1st IC engine was built ~ 1790; the 1st battery in 1800. Next, people invested their time and money in fossil fuels because a single gallon of gasoline contains the energy of FORTY modern car batteries; 8 pounds of gasoline could transport them 20 miles, while 8 lbs of battery was only good for 1/2 mile. Batteries are NOT energy-dense, and since they start at such a disadvantage to other fuels, even a *huge* technology breakthrough that doubles their density still leaves them lacking.

    Your first statements were uninformed, but your last one is a fantasy. Until you can command the sun to shine at night, and the wind always to blow between 10 and 15 mph, they will never displace fossil. If you want heat and light at night, when cloudy, in the calm or in a storm, you will never rely on solar or wind.

  • Jeffery Surratt

    Most experts think that wind and solar will never be able to provide more than 20 percent of the nation’s power grid. I find all these estimates to be wishful thinking. Remember the Nuclear Power people in the 1950’s saying the power would be so cheap, you would not have to meter it. LOL.

  • The first practical internal combustion engine was built in 1860 by J.J. Etienne. You may be thinking of either the first EXTERNAL combustion vehicle, built in 1769 by Nicholas-Joseph Cugnot: the Cugnot steam wagon.

    The first battery is literally thousands of years old (Google “Leyden jar”), but the first practical battery-powered car, according to the Department of Energy’s history pages “…made its debut around 1890 thanks to William Morrison, a chemist who lived in Des Moines, Iowa. His six-passenger vehicle capable of a top speed of 14 miles per hour was little more than an electrified wagon, but it helped spark interest in electric vehicles.” My timetable is far more accurate than you would believe.

    And with the advent of more efficient batteries, why would I NOT rely on solar and wind power to generate electricity that I could store for later? Plus, if I want power when a storm is going on, I would absolutely want access to wind power.

    The facts, and the weather, are on my side.