The classic example is light bulbs . If you use naive comparisons of like goods across years, with weighting by percentage of expenditures, to measure consumer/producer price changes from e.g. 1890-1930, you'll see:
1. decreasing weight in the basket and increasing price of whale-oil lamps over time
2. increasing weight in the basket and decreasing cost of light bulbs over time
But what you won't capture is that these two goods are both providing lighting, and that the switch from one to another provides a sharp drop in the price of light that is not captured by the change in prices of either in isolation.
Here it's the opposite effect, in that looking at Li-Ion battery prices in isolation overestimates the deflationary effect on energy storage prices.
This problem has also popped up in the context of measuring US manufacturing output over time. Specifically, the correction factors used to deal with this are called "price deflators", and their inability to deal with the pricing and business model of computer hardware may have produced an incorrect impression that US manufacturing output is holding steady or increasing, when it's actually decreasing 
 "Classic" as in used to draw the attention of the field in this important 1998 paper: https://lucept.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/william-nordhaus-...
I wonder if there was any way to compute light emitted per source. Then you could calculate a price per unit of light and whale-oil lamps would be obliterated by incandescent light builds which would in turn be obliterated by LED light bulbs.
It's harder for something like batteries, where there are multiple relevant performance parameters to reduce to one utility heuristic. And good luck when the utility is subjective (clothes), still under study (food and nutrition), or ill-defined (media).
But there are qualitative changes that aren't captured by this -- street lights are brighter and whiter now than they were in the 1990s for example, and those were brighter than oil lamps before them.
According to Wikipedia, they were preceded by two years by the first commercially-available nickel-metal hydride cells in 1989, so that would be an interesting point of comparison. Also nickel-cadmium and lead-acid have been around for a very long time.
Lithium-ion was never a good idea due to the fire hazard (in a crash they would just straight up explode, not even just cause a raging uncontrollable fire like LiPo, just boom) and Lithium-polymer could not support the necessary discharge rates (which I believe was also true of li-ion at the time too...). Early LiPo packs were only rated to like 0.5C or 1C peak discharge - this means, for a 2 amp-hour pack, 1C would be a discharge rate of 2 amps. Even then the packs did not really do well at their rated discharge rates - NiMH packs were far more tolerant of abuse in terms of discharge rates, in some cases you could push well beyond the rated spec and they would take it for a year or two's worth of sessions.
I was an "early adopter" on electric R/C airplanes back in the day (this would have been like 2000-2004) and the early stuff I used was mostly repurposed stuff from electric cars. The changeover to 4/5 or 2/3rds sub-C cells was a big deal at the time, the first "good" packs I owned were something called "HeCells" around 1800mAH or 2000 mAH, I also used KAN 1100mah cells. What I finally settled on at the time were these Sanyo "1950FAUP" cells which were extraordinary performers - we could push those cells to 70-80 amps peak discharge and they would take it. So in terms of the way LiPos are rated today, that is 40C discharge. This would only be doable for short periods, but it is necessary for launch and climbout (when the motor is running flat-out and the wing is basically stalled). Without the ability to sustain those currents it becomes very difficult to launch. Even still we did not "taxi" them like a normal airplane (or a normal model airplane), just wasn't enough power to get off the ground without a paved strip.
We typically expected about 10-15 minutes of flight time if you were flying normally, maybe 8-10 if you were really hotdogging it. So that means we averaged about 6C over the course of a flight (higher during climbout, less during cruising).
Another unsung miracle is how much motor technology has improved over the same period. My early motors were, again, repurposed brushed motors from Graupner's electric car lineup. We later moved onto some brushed Kyosho "magnetic mayhem" car motors that could push even higher levels of current. There was a Czech company called "Mega" who was an early mover on small neodymium brushless motors and that was a big deal at the time, they were far more powerful and far more efficient. Nowadays you don't even think about it, they're just a commodity, but at the time even a small brushless motor would run you about $130 or so!
 (tangent but it's kinda weird that NiCd and NiMH cells have traditionally been specced in amps but LiPo cells are specced in terms of "C discharge", obviously it's trivial to move between the two if you know the capacity of the pack but there's a definite difference in "style" of how the discharge rates are represented here...)
I think I understand what you mean but there was also a unfulfilled requirement before 1991. Back then (I'm 50.5 years old) cells didn't explode but then they also didn't set the world alight in terms of longevity either.
We had Walkmans and crappy clones that drained the shitty rechargeable cells we had at the time in a few hours. OK those things drove mechanical beasties - cassettes but cells/batteries were not particularly good before Li-Ion turned up.
Do you have any idea how something as simple as an iPod becomes exciting because no mechanical spinny things means power draw is much, much lower? It also helps if the thing isn't beige or grey. Apple are no more exciting to me than any other mob: design-wise, but they did get a few things right early on: "don't look shit". As it turns out, that simple mantra means that you get to >$1T t/o.
Now I own a phone that runs for around two days before charging. That doesn't sound too grand until you recall that just the GPS thing in it would have required 2U+ in a comms rack back in the day. The camera? If I kept an equivalent camera from the 1990s in my pocket then I'd be making silly jokes about it. The phone: I can stand on the top of Hay Torr and make a call.
edit: maybe not, plausibly just charging
That 50,000x or whatever didn’t really give any information about the growth of a product over thirty years, it only really gives information about the growth during the first year which if it had been marginally different would give you a wildly different value for your “market growth today” number.
We should all be careful not to publish large numbers with dubious sources.
NiMH came out around the same time and it's fine. A good one has similar energy to a good alkaline. Not very far behind a small-cell lithium ion either.
I will even venture that consumer lithium-ion batteries, such as for camera or laptop replacements, do not appear to have gone cheaper over last, say, decade. I can only assume healthy profit margin by brands (Nikon/Sony/Canon/etc, Lenovo/Sony/Dell/etc). Third party cheaper batteries are available, of dubious quality, so I suppose that may be a sign of cheaper manufacturing...
Power transistors for example I would also consider closer to alkaline cells than to logic, there has surely been a lot of progress in that field which eventually brought us the miracles of HVDC, but on a far more conventional scale.
The middle part of the S curve is when you see the dumbest articles about the technology, with people extrapolating the growth linearly and talking about how it will rule the world in a few years.
Cars, trucks, buses, trains, HVAC, factories are what needs to be electrified ASAP.
For the case of buses, I think there is an elegant solution that they have begun to use in my city. Historically, they already have been electric cables around the city for pantograph buses. However, it is expensive to run electric cables around the city, so they are only a handfull of lines using this technology.
Now they are introducing hybrid battery / pantographs buses. Which I think a good compromise because you only need to equip a fraction of the line with electric cables, and the battery takes care of the rest. Because of that, you don't need a huge battery for the bus to be able to run all day. It can recharge periodically on the line with the pantograph.
Concerning trucks and cars, yes that shit needs to be electrified ASAP.
Unfortunately, that assumes producing those synthetic fuels has no carbon output other than the fuel itself.
„Fossil“ is the actually bad property of these fuels.
Having a huge supply chain for corn also drives innovation and scale in that industry, should corn become rare because of a drought, it would be relatively straightforward to redirect the corn supply into food.
When watching the video, what struck me as absurd is more the energy waste from meat production.
(The downside I must mention is that high capital cost low utilization low running cost => still high cost)
The USN have a solution in their back pocket: https://www.zmescience.com/research/us-navy-synthetic-jet-fu... , presumably for at-sea refuelling using surplus energy from the reactors of carriers.
Big aircraft are more likely to move to liquified hydrogen, synthesized on demand at major airports; initially burning it in turbines, eventually using fuel cells and electric drive.
Ammonia will be pretty easy to switch to; the main impediment today is just raw production capacity, which needs to be scaled up by three orders of magnitude. Ships can be retrofitted in place with new, bigger pressure-vessel fuel tankage and more complicated fuel piping. The changeover will need to be driven by regulation.
LH2 is quite a bit harder, but the rewards for success are huge. It might need entirely new turbojet engines, and maybe new airframes with room for bigger tankage. It certainly needs truly huge scale-ups in both methods and raw capacity to synthesize LH2, and in production of cheap aerogels to insulate the LH2 tanks.
The first usable LH2 transport aircraft will have an absolutely crushing advantage over kerosene-fueled craft anywhere they compete. Kerosene craft will gradually be pushed out to shorter routes and smaller airports. How fast this happens will depend mostly on how fast LH2 production can be scaled, and how fast new airframes can be approved and then delivered.
And then, total efficiency for hydrogen fuel is much lower than batteries. In vehicles for example, while 70-80% of grid energy reaches a cars’ wheels, the figure for LH2 is about 25%, a lot more of it goes to production and transport than its actual purpose.
I think this clearly tells us that investing in new battery tech to increase density is a much more promising long term bet.
The ONLY economically viable source of H2 today is cracking Natural Gas (and to your point, nearly always producing CO2 in the process).
From both a lifecycle efficiency and pollution perspective (if you accept the ridiculous idea that CO2 is a pollutant), we're way better off just burning the NG, which is already the cleanest carbon-based fuel there is.
Obviously, the LH2 fuel must be produced electrolytically, from electricity generated from renewable sources like solar, wind, or geothermal, not from NG as it all is today; I specifically called that out in the text that the above pretends to reply to, so it is hard to see why NG-generated H2 is mentioned here at all. LH2 generated on demand at airports does not incur transport losses.
Identically, NH3 is today produced by consuming NG and exhausting CO2, which process also must be replaced with catalytic means powered from renewable sources, and H2 generated electrolytically.
And, obviously there are conversion losses from solar/wind to electric to separated H2 and to chilled LH2, and then to accelerated air, just as there are losses extracting crude oil, transporting, refining, transporting again, burning, and exhausting it. End-to-end cost, including externalized environmental cost, is what matters. We need a carbon tax to help drive conversion. But the favorable energy mass density of LH2 overrides enormous conversion losses, which is the whole point.
I guess furnaces are still largely gas, oil or wood burning... that doesn't seem like a technological problem though.
To be honest, I don't know what they could use batteries for, but I also can't imagine that some aspects of factory work will be completely untouched by the upcoming battery revolution.
Some places, current batteries just don't cut it.
On the other hand...the infrastructure requirements for a cross coast hyperloop venture...especially if impulsed by government would resolve a lot of things...besides couldn't it be used for cargo..Amazon might be interested ...and imagine the billboard/advertising opportunities..
You can’t replace a reliable mode of transportation with something that doesn’t exist yet. Even when it’s ready, it’d take decades. Political powers are reluctant to commit to something that’s going to take longer than their careers.
Then again, you don’t even need hyperloop. Germany has 250 km/h trains, those are more than enough for many routes.
In ground vehicles the weight of the engine and transmission and running gear is more than an electric motor and controller with much simpler usually single speed transmission and drivetrain especially diesel. Then there is structural batteries where the structure of battery helps replace some of the vehicle structure reducing wieght. This is why electric cars are starting to be competitive.
Planes are somewhat different modern turbine engines are relatively light for their power output and there is not much of a transmission on planes, usually variable props instead and fuel tanks are sort of structural. Although having many multiple props driven by small electric motors can have advantages which would be complicated and heavy to do with a drivetrain in a plane. Still electric planes are far from practical IMO.
I hope people find an electrical energy storage system (ie a battery) that’s cheap, and with high mass and volumetric energy density, soon. That would be huge for solving the impending climate (and pollution) crisis.
Otoh sitting in the sun for a few hours to charge some battery via rays from the sun is itself free.
Sounds wonderful, please show the math.
This has reshaped and is reshaping the supply chain, has localized production and has massive improved production efficiency. Now we are slowly starting to approximate production of a scale and efficiency where we are approaching raw materials cost.
A huge amount of effort has now shifted into improving density as that is a vector to reduce cost. Huge money is flowing into silicon and lithium metal anode study.
There is some hope to get there faster.
We have plenty of fossil fuel so if most of the world stops burning gas we can run aircrafts on fossil fuels for centuries. Even emissions wont be a problem as cheaper energy on ground can be used to capture green house gases and store them someplace.
> I think electric aircraft need another doubling or two in specific energy to become feasible
My trucker friends loved the electric semi trucks but what they were upset about was the charging time. Every hour the truck is idle you are basically losing money, losing rhythm of driving and so on. I think with aircrafts it is going to be an even bigger issue.
Does anyone know what stops us from building tech where batteries are rapidly switched ?
Demand currently outstrips supply. New applications are creating demand and there's expansion of existing users too.
Cost curve improvements won't arrive in every niche equally.
It's still early days. I guess this'll continue for a while yet.
The used 18650 market is going to be very interesting.
What are your thoughts on this? Haven't had any issues? Or do you take steps to mitigate it?
... and at that point, short of massive automation in a fireproof area, you're almost certainly going to come out ahead buying new cells.
Also assuming money is no object. Is it as good for the environment to recycle the old battery and buy a refurbed one.
I mentioned it elsewhere, but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrofluoric_acid_burn is a very relevant read on the nature of "toxic." Most of the rest of the stuff isn't much friendlier.
Yes, and I'll suggest that a disturbingly large fraction of the people doing this on YouTube don't know what they're doing, and are being brutally unsafe with the batteries, even if it works.
I've done battery pack rebuilding semi-professionally for a few years (I was rebuilding ebike packs for most of North America from about 2015 to 2018), and the people screwing around with the used/recycled cells scare the hell out of me. In no particular order:
* They don't care to invest in a spot welder and they solder directly to the terminals. Every datasheet out there for 18650s that mentions soldering says the same thing: "DO NOT solder directly to our terminals." You spot weld a strip on and then solder to that. Soldering to the terminal puts a ton of heat into the end of the battery which then flows into the cell windings. The separator is usually plastic. You really don't want to weaken it. With a spot welder, I can put my finger on the terminal immediately after spot welding, and I can spread out the welds in time. If I want three welds (six spots) on a terminal, I can do one weld on each cell, then come back for the rest, and keep the temperature "comfortable to a fingertip." I cannot do that soldering.
* They tend to take a single snapshot of cell capacity, maybe internal resistance, and then assign cells that way. Unless they organize them by wrapper color for aesthetics, ignoring the cell capacity and behaviors. Some cell chemistries will degrade far faster than others, and you'd ideally like to not have a mess of stuff in the same pack.
* They recharge dead cells with no idea how long they've been dead. Lithium cells are physically stressed at full charge and fully empty, and a cell that has been empty for a while may have very real internal physical damage, such that it will fail later. I won't charge anything under 2.5V unless I know exactly how and when it got there, and if it's much below 2.0V, I still won't put voltage to it. The risk of a lithium battery runaway and fire is too high for my tastes. Lithium battery runaways, beyond lighting stuff on fire, tend to emit things like HF, which you very definitely don't want to breathe. It doesn't hurt a bit while it's killing you, because it destroys the nerves first. Health-wise, you're actually better off if the battery venting is flaming, because the mixture of gases coming off that is somewhat less toxic. Again, it depends on the particular chemistry what you get. It's never anything friendly.
Unfortunately, "recycling" lithium batteries isn't really established yet, and most of what seems to pass for "recycling" is the cells getting shipped to China, having new ends put on to hide the spot welds, and then getting a shiny wrapper and sold with impossible capacities to vapers for $0.75 or something silly. The highest capacity 18650s are around 3600-3800mAh, and don't source an awful lot of amps in the deal. Anything claiming higher (again, in the 18650 form factor) is certainly a lie.
You can do it, if you're careful, but by the time you've properly characterized the batteries, I'm not convinced it's worth the time/effort. Those who claim it is tend to skip a lot of checks and be really, really casual with their packs. To their credit, they rarely catch fire, but the whole "DIY Powerwall" crowd using scavenged and abused cells is not a good example to follow.
Do you know any best practices about who does this right, and how it can be done both safely and economically? If necessary with automation and large scale.
The best advice I have is to learn all you can from reading things, not watching things. The bits and pieces of solar/battery/energy work I've seen on YouTube as people link them tend heavily sensational and "WOW I NEARLY BLEW MYSELF UP!!!! big O YouTube emotion face" and I've no interest in any of that.
Also, you shouldn't assemble a pack with the batteries above about... oh, 3.5-3.6V/cell. Down there, there's typically not enough energy for the pack to get exciting if something does short. It'll get hot, it may vent a cell (again, do not breathe), but it probably won't have enough energy to enter a thermal runaway, which is something you want to avoid at all costs.
Aside from the issue I mentioned in reply, the only real caveat would be "know the basics of working with electronics without shorting things or electrocuting yourself" and "check out some youtube videos on rebuilding 18650 packs so you don't do it in a horribly wrong way".
Bad idea, because about 90% of what they do is fine, and 10% is very, very wrong. Unless you know what you're doing, it's almost impossible to tell which is which.
I just gave it a quick skip through, but the guy seems to know the correct approach.
I'm not going to evaluate someone's YouTube video on battery repair, sorry. There's no way I can "skip through it" and have any sense of what they're doing, and I generally try to avoid YouTube as a source of information. You'll find far better material on Endless Sphere, though there are plenty of dangerous ideas there.
To my knowledge, this is the best informational site around regarding various battery technologies (including Lithium), and how to use them safely.
Connecting cells in parallel is inherently safe if done when they're brought all at the same level; from that moment on they won't charge or discharge across each other because the current draw will always bring them at the same voltage, therefore having zero current from cell to cell.
The problem is however when one or more cells degrade with age, therefore we have more efficient cells in parallel with less efficient ones. That is not a problem safety wise as well, because as before they'll always be at the same potential, but should their degradation change their internal resistance to a point it's a lot higher than their normal one, then we would have the good cells with lower internal resistance sustaining the most current during charge or discharge, and that could be dangerous.
To avoid situations like that one, never implement charges faster than the one that could be sustained by a single cell. Let's say one 2Ah cell can be safely charged at 2C max, that is, 4 Amperes, if we build a pack of 3 of those cells in parallel we would be tempted to charge them at 6C, that is 12 Amperes, which would work in a new pack with all cells that equally balance the current. But if (when) one or two cells degrade their internal chemistry increasing their internal resistance, we'd be left with the remaining good cell(s) drawing the most current, which will largely exceed their individual rating, overheating them and potentially making them explode (that's also when individual cell protection make sense). There's actually a case in which a cell chemistry is so degraded that it can't only store the same amount of current, but also the same voltage, and this could be a problem in parallel packs, but the battery performance drop should have warned us a lot before this happens.
So, all we need is to keep the charge current as low as the current sustainable by a single cell, and we're safe. Slow charging also benefits the overall cells life. Don't worry about connecting unprotected cells in parallel, as they balance themselves: all laptop batteries have balanced series of unbalanced parallels. For example, a 6 cell pack contains is arranged as 2p+2p+2p (2 cells in parallel in series with 2 cells in parallel in series with 2 cells in parallel) while 9 cell packs use 3 cells parallels; series cells are balanced through the BMS, but parallel cells will self balance. What is important is to keep series groups balanced and protect against excessive voltage and charge/discharge current.
(or else overall pack capacity and discharge performance will be lost - the discharge curves are not linear, when a cell is "dead" it drops rapidly, and that means you've effectively lost that chunk of your pack in terms of capacity and ability to discharge).
it's not instant of course, so it's not like you need to do it every single time, but the trend over time is definitely for them to move away from ideal balance with multiple charge/discharge cycles rather than into balance
I.e. it took a long time for things to ramp up, then they accelerate really quickly and then they slow down again. Think Moore's Law, which is dead now.
What would be the price estimate for 2030, for example. I think we're now around $100 per kwh (or something like that), what should we expect for 2030? $60? $20?
Look again. Moore's law in terms of single threaded performance is dead. In literal terms of number of transistors on a wafer, it's still increasing exponentially, just slower. And in terms of what mattered when people cited Moore's law, the decrease in price/performance, it's still exponential, just slower and multi core.
It will end, as all exponential trends must end lest they consume the universe, but the end is not yet in sight. Recently chips have started to go multi chip and three dimensional. So even when we finally hit that scaling limit, we haven't quite reached the end of exponential progress.
We've been reliant on node shrinks to push things further. That hard limit is 0.2nm (silicon atom size) we are at ~2nm gate features.
It remains to be seen if we can get to that 0.2nm size, I honestly don't think we can push much further past the 2nm size (I'd imagine 0.5nm will be the limit).
That, to me, is very much being "in sight".
First, how do you cool such a chip? Sure, you could add a bunch of transistors but the thermal costs per transistor will stay the same. Assuming similar design but adding 20 layers, how would you account for your CPU now consuming 600W?
Second, The tech doesn't exist. The problem we have is that layering chips today is basically growing crystals in a controlled fashion. Defects in lower layers spoil upper layers. Today that's already a problem (CPUs today have ~7 or 8 layers). Can you imagine the problem of 20 or 30 layers?
Who knows, maybe we'll come up with solutions to both problems, but that's a big maybe. My bet is that instead we focus on architecture designs. We revisit old but deemed too expensive concepts like an async CPU.
See 3d nand flash cells, see stacked cache and HBM memory. All the usual characters are working on it. Intel, AMD (TSMC), Samsung.
Cooling is an issue, but there are solutions.
There's a reason memory can generally beat computational cores to smaller node sizes. It's because highly uniform circuits are much easier to manufacture. A lot of problems present in CPU logic cores (such as cross talk) just aren't present to the same extent in NAND cells.
It may be a simple typing problem, but Wikipedia doesn't seem to have it.
No, I think x86 passed 14+ layers at least half a decade ago.
It does not reduce price per transistor because each layer still has to be manufactured the same way
The silicon is not actually the expensive part.
We are not yet close enough to the end to say where it is, so that's out of sight IMHO.
The entire reason cloud service providers are looking at and advertising ARM racks is the power savings from operating them.
Which notably mentions performance. I have often interpreted Moore's Law to be the fact that doubling improvements in performance will continue roughly every 16-18 months, but not always directly proportionally to transistor count -- other ways to squeeze out doubling performance gains arise and often in unexpected places.
Moore's law was an observation by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, relating to the doubling of transistors per densely integrated circuit chip every 24 months. Originally, it was every 12 months, then every 24 months, etc.
Moore's second law, which isn't as well known, relates to the exponentially increasing capital cost of manufacturing ICs.
Would be interested to know if the process inside Oxford's is as precise to distinguish, or if they intentionally dumbed it down.
The thing people mean when they are talking about the deceleration of single-threaded CPU performance is actually Dennard scaling. Dennard said that density and power efficiency were complementary in such a way as to keep areal power constant. That was true until it suddenly stopped being true. If Dennard scaling had continued you'd be using a 20GHz CPU right now.
I get where you are coming from, but this is one of the most aggravating types of comments.
On the curve you can find:
- Ultimate Computer is the computer using the best hardware as allowed by the physical constants of our universe. See also physics of computation.
- Inclusions are in essence 'pocket universes'. They are created for specific entities to run hardware in a dedicated universe with physical constants different from ours, allowing for better performance than those in our universe
- Ultimate Inclusion is the inclusion with the best possible set of physical constants in the entire multiverse
Seth Lloyd wrote a paper "Ultimate physical limits to computation" .
I do wonder how a dramatic shift towards Li powered cars will effect the price. We may see demand outpace supply for a decade or more. I hope it is the other way around because cheap lithium batteries flooding the market would have many positive implications.
As to Li-ion, well the future is good, but not so certain.
So next 9 years? My expectation is beyond Tesla, the rest of the industry will have hit on that sub $50/kwh price point. That is going to make a lot of things really interesting. $2000 for a 30kWh home battery backup? Who wouldn't get one?
To further this, with climate change leading to more and more extreme weather, I'm expecting that power outages are going to be semi-common (assuming the grid doesn't invest in battery backup).
Very few of the people that would currently benefit from a domestic backup battery could afford $2k, and most of the people who do have $2k to spare don’t live in places with unreliable electricity.
The overlap isn’t zero, but… for example, I visited Kenya with an ex of mine, we met a local friend of hers, that friend would’ve benefited from a more reliable electricity bill, but her monthly rent and utility bills combined was equivalent to about $85 and she couldn’t afford to move.
California, a state of 40 million people, would disagree with you ;)
Not just referencing the blackouts we had last summer: CA also is heavily invested in solar power, and as a result, power is much cheaper during the day than at night (assuming you opt into time of use pricing). A battery for $2k would pay for itself in California quickly, because you can charge it when power is cheap during the day and run off battery when power is expensive at night.
Plenty of other US states have had blackouts as well; my parents in PA now own a generator due to repeated blackouts last year. If they could have bought a battery for $2k, they probably would have: generators are loud and dirty. And Texans certainly had a bad time with blackouts recently as well.
Anyone who can find a spare $2k can buy one and quickly find they now have more than $2k spare, but you’d be amazed how many people, even in a rich part of the world like CA, don’t have as much spare cash as the average developer.
Like I said, “not zero, but…”
You just need to count the number of rooftop solar installations there are in the world to get an idea of the market size. Another $2k investment to get significantly more value out of an existing multithousand outlay would be a no brainer for most of them.
Mainly I’m expecting grid-corrected batteries of this type to be owned and operated by power companies and governments rather than by individual home owners; and most privately owned batteries to be the ones in cars rather than permanently attached to houses.
How explode-y is this battery? I hear California also has this problem with forest fires and it seems a fire and giant batteries all over the place would be two flavors that do not go well with each other.
> With so much oil-rich food on hand, including lard, cheese and more than 10 million pounds of surplus butter stored by the federal government, the fire was a hot mess — fast-moving, destructive and difficult to put out.
My expectation is that with climate change, unreliable electricity is going to affect a lot more places. The polar vortex that knocked out the Texas grid is likely to be a more frequent and more extreme event. ACs running more frequently will likely lead to more brown outs.
Assuming our grids don't get major updates (I'm pretty pessimistic about this), we are looking at more and more outages in the future. It's certainly possible that smart grids could significantly reduce outages, but that will take too many actors working together to ever really fly.
For example, if the grid could coordinate with your heating and cooling, you could distribute AC usage to avoid tripping the grid.
Barring such a grid, homes having batteries would allow owners to skate through brown outs. Further couple that with solar and they could survive even major outages (hours or even days).
> The overlap isn’t zero, but… for example, I visited Kenya with an ex of mine, we met a local friend of hers, that friend would’ve benefited from a more reliable electricity bill, but her monthly rent and utility bills combined was equivalent to about $85 and she couldn’t afford to move.
A 1kwh battery would probably be a pretty positive impact. Add on a 300W solar panel and you'd have something that would extend the amount of electricity the have. That'd come in at ~$400 (assuming $50/kwh). Not enough to run an AC, but enough to keep the lights on and maybe run a fridge.
Otherwise... yeah... not much good news for places that can't afford such batteries.
This is already done. It’s a blunt system, but it is done.
I was offered $5/month off my electric bill to add a device to my AC unit that would be able to turn it off for up to 15 minutes per hour. (I declined, because my AC at that time was not able to keep up even running constantly.)
There is no advantage using Lithium batteries (at present) as size and/or weight is not critical for domestic applications.
The whole point of the discussion is that Lithium is still not cheaper than Lead acid.
If those weren't enough, even when treated well (not discharged too deeply) lead-acid batteries don't last for as many discharge cycles as lithium iron phosphate cells. If you do the math, for batteries cycled daily modern LiFePo batteries are about the same TCO as lead-acid despite the higher up-front costs because the lithium batteries will last significantly longer and you don't need to buy as much absolute capacity for the same effective capacity. Here's a good presentation on this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BRqRDZh74F0
 https://www.solar-electric.com/media/wysiwyg/cyclelife2.gif (Graph shows cycles (y-axis) vs average depth of discharge (x-axis) for a typical "deep cycle" lead-acid battery. Note the y-axis is logarithmic.)
Increasing the mix of renewables in the electricity networks will mean most people live in places with unreliable electricity going forward. The proposed $2k 30kWh home battery backup could well be the adaptation many of us have to make.
A home battery in many places is basically free money. Renewables mean there is an extreme oversupply at some times and an undersupply at others. Owning a battery hooked up to the grid means you buy power at oversupply times where the power goes in to negative pricing and then sell it back at other times in the same day where it is very expensive.
Reusing old car batteries for this purpose might become the next bitcoin mining with warehouses full of repurposed batteries buying and selling power.
Only if its a free battery. Otherwise, its an income stream with an up front cost.
An old tesla battery with only 50% capacity remaining is still perfectly good for this kind of use even if not so great for driving.
Maybe briefly, especially where retail customers with some installed renewable generating capacity can leverage the latter to take advantage of net metering laws designed to bring renewable capacity to the grid, because otherwise their stuck buying at retail and, if allowed to sell back at all, selling at wholesale.
Bur cheaper batteries mean proper utility players (e.g., a joint operation of PG&E and Tesla) are building large, purpose-built storage facilities, often colocated with generation facilities, with lower marginal costs for real estate and interconnection than separate facilities and better access to financing than small operators.
Storage is going to be a big industry going forward, but the period where home storage (or storage by anyone but major utility players) is a viable financial hack rather than just a backup plan for grid failure will probably be brief unless artificially subsidized to encourage distributed storage.
Those 90% cells will also have a pretty nice degradation curve as most of the loss happens within the first few years of operating.
2. Batteries need not just be for power outages. Net metering, granular demand-based energy pricing, etc are all reasons to get a battery for your house.
I’m just saying loads of people for whom it would provide benefit don’t have $2k spare money to invest.
To put a different spin on it: the price point for the cheapest consumer unit should be way lower than that… unless you force landlords to install it at their own cost (as a landlord myself: a $2k legally mandated expense would not be happy fun times, but I could and would suck it up).
And even then, you’re still thinking in terms of the richest economies, and first quartile incomes in developing nations would struggle with $25 backup batteries let alone $2000.
One belief of mine which is shifting from all the replies I’ve been getting, is that I’m increasingly surprised how bad everyone’s telling me that America’s fundamental infrastructure is.
I don't think of the infrastructure here as _bad_, though.
We do have the occasional outage after a storm, as I described. But, even if the uptime were as low as 99%, which it is not, I would not want to pay the cost of making the grid significantly more resilient than it is.
Rural Wales for 3.5 years? 30 minutes of downtime total, ~99.998% uptime. Similar total downtime in Cambridge, but I was there 8.5 years, so 99.9993% uptime. I don’t think it’s ever failed me here in Berlin.
That in particular is why I’m saying here that American infrastructure looks bad. It’s not the only way, TBH, but it is so in a new and relevant way I wasn’t previously expecting.
I could be wrong, but I suspect that the infrastructure in the two places is built essentially the same way. I think the crucial difference is that Connecticut has so many more trees. Downed trees break the lines all over the state whenever a windstorm or a snowstorm comes through. (Come to think of it, most of the UK doesn't get snowstorms, either).
I'm just saying that never for a second would I consider trading any of those trees for additional uptime. Nor do I want to pay the utility providers whatever it would cost to bury all those lines in the ground where they'd be safer from storm damage. I'd rather have a week without power every couple of years.
I'd be curious to know if the story is different in rural or semirural Scandinavia.
Because it would be a lot more than $2k to get put it in your home. If you do the math on a Tesla powerwall, the raw cost of the battery should be right around $2k too. But it actually costs more like $8k per powerwall.
Competition is low. There are only a few players in the home battery space and they are similarly priced.
Demand is high. Even with the higher price, the wait list to get a powerwall is more than a year out.
My expectation is a few things happen over the next 9 years.
I expect that battery production ramps up to a high degree.
I expect that the EV market will eventually be saturated
With those two things, I expect that EV manufactures and the likes of tesla will end up with more batteries than than demand. When that happens, you can expect that the cost of battery products will start to tumble as everyone that manufactures batteries starts to try and sell them for whatever application will buy them.
Things that could spoil my assumptions?
Power companies might decide now is the time to really buy batteries. That could keep demand outpacing supply.
We could see new applications of batteries that aren't currently on the table, such as battery powered trains.
The EV market could not saturate. This could be due to battery production capacity severely lagging EV demand. This could be due to anything from manufacturing plants running into major issues to supply chain problems.
But, I'm an optimist. I expect to see battery tech and manufacturing continuing to build out at a fast pace.
Oh, and eventually the expensive part of a battery system won't be the batteries but rather the install cost.
Batteries could get a train up to cruising speed requiring a smaller train engine and less fuel.
Batteries could save on line expansion, instead of installing a 3rd rail for the whole line, they could go a 3rd rail every 50 miles for 10 miles.
I agree a 3rd rail would be cheaper in the long run. Batteries could help bridge the gap.
Some major cities in the US had overhead powered "trolleys". But, car lobbies destroyed those :(.
If the whole grid goes down, your gas likely won't be there.
If you add solar, then you could indefinitely run in most circumstances.
You could swap out the NG generator for a diesel one with a day tank and then you don’t have to worry about NG service :)
A 30kwH battery wall is going to last 6-12 hours at most anyways.
I can’t recall NG service disruptions on a large scale in my state, and I’m 37.
Point being you could target your outage range based on what you want to prep for at a fairly low cost (assuming $50/kWh).
Add on a solar system to any of these and you'd have indefinite power without a reliance on surrounding infrastructure.
For my home, 30kWh would give me ~24hr of power.
Even if you want a fossil fuel generator, you could have an auto switch to battery for the short outages so you don't have to go crank on the generator.
Cost like 5k and 2K install. Really hard to beat that in the near term with battery.
No it doesn’t do the demand shift part of a battery, but it’s pretty clearly better as an emergency solution, at least for my needs.
However, it's still a lot more hassle to set this up compared to a battery pack that "just works".
It's going to be a shock for a lot of people, specially in techno-optimistic communities as HN.
You probably mean Dennard scaling is dead. The breakdown was around 2006.
Of course reading the article they are talking about Lithium Ion batteries.
Sounds good to me. Single-use, landfill bound products typically shouldn’t be as inexpensive to the consumer as we’re used to.
I always got the 9V too, which I used for my "150 in 1" electronics kit.
I checked Radio-Shack's 1981 US catalogue. $2.79 for a 4 pk of store-brand AA alkaline cells. That's $8.20 or so today. You can today, apparently get an 8 pk of Duracell from Wal-Mart at $7.50. Or an 8 pk of store brand alkaline AA cells from Wal-Mart for $3.20.
cheap and reputable supermarket brand ones last just long
Another point to consider is if you leave the alkaline battery in for too long will the chemical leak and ruin your device? The damage to your device from a broken battery could easily exceed the cost differential. I don't have solid evidence that brand names work better in this regard but I have definitely experienced repeatedly generic batteries having white corrosive crystaline stuff formed all around them.
Charge speeds also suck unless you get some of the fancy expensive chargers.
> Charge speeds also suck unless you get some of the fancy expensive chargers.
This has been a total non-issue to me. I have 30 or 40 batteries running around total, keeping 4 spares on the charger is no big deal
Absolutely not. There are plenty of Youtubers testing this theory. Here is a pretty credible reviewer
I personally have had nightmarish results with Amazon Basics Alkaline. In my experience these batteries have a greater tendency than other brands to leak over time and have destroyed multiple electronic equipment that I have owned. It was a big mistake on my part because I bought a large package of them, installed them and then didn't realize that many of them leaked until it was too late and they have eaten away many terminals in the different devices I put them in.
I did say reputable!
re: the video, he should really test more than a single pack of batteries of each type...
Personally, I like the Energizer (primary, i.e. disposable) lithiums for nice things like my old HP logic dart that will sit in a drawer for a long time between uses, and Panasonic (formerly Sanyo) Eneloop NiMH batteries for most other things, and the cheapo Costco batteries for when I really don't care.
The three major US brands of alkaline batteries all have warranties for corrosion damage. I don't know of any other brands that do. I have seen corrosion in every brand of alkaline battery I've ever bought but have never tried to collect on any warranty.
“Energizer will repair or replace, at our option, any device damaged by leakage from Energizer MAX® Alkaline batteries either during the life of the battery or within two years following the full use of the battery.”
“Duracell guarantees its batteries against defects in materials and workmanship. Should any device be damaged due to a battery defect, we will repair or replace it at our option.”
"In the unlikely event of alkaline battery leakage, any battery operated device that is damaged by RAYOVAC® Alkaline Batteries will be repaired, replaced or refunded, at our option, as long as the batteries have not expired or been mixed by expiry date and/or battery type.”
The private-label guessing game cuts both ways, too: there are 2nd-tier alkaline manufacturers that swear they are a contract manufacturer for at least one of the major US brand names, with portions of their factory they can't show you because then you'd find out. Even if it's true, it doesn't mean the battery they sell you will be built to the same standards, with the same materials, or put through the same QA as the battery they make for someone in the battery business.
At best you can say they've dropped along with inflation, which is a factor of 2.
10 pack of AA Rayovac batteries at Walmart: $3.20
Eight pack of AA Duracell: $7.47
Pretty ridiculous. For $7.78 you can get a 24 pack of ACDelco AA batteries (granted I don't know how that brand stands up on quality).
I think you're misreading your sources. The NYTimes article says zinc-carbon AAs cost $0.30 each in 1990 (which, IIRC, are pretty crappy). The article doesn't give a clear price for alkaline AAs, but it sounds like they used to cost about $0.50-$0.75 each back then ($1.02-$1.53 each in today's dollars).
Then there's also the fact that in 1990, probably the only alkaline batteries available to consumers were name-brands in smallish packages. Nowadays some store-brand batteries are pretty good and cheaper. For example, you can get AmazonBasics AA alkalines for $0.90 each in a 4-pack, and $0.45 each in a 20-pack . These are apparently manufactured by Fujitsu .
The title is not misleading. It's incomplete, as titles are by nature. Titles are not supposed to include all caveats and modifications. The title also doesn't say that the decline is measured in dollars. Probably the price has dropped much less or much more when measured in other currencies that have moved relative to the dollar. The title also doesn't mention whether it's adjusted for inflation. It also doesn't specify whether that's the price at the consumer level or the price paid by manufacturers. Whether it's when you buy the battery in America or somewhere else on the planet.
As long as a title doesn't deliberately seek to mislead, it's not misleading. The intended audience expected this to be about lithium ion batteries.
Lithium-Ion were not in widespread use 30 years ago. So if we are just considering the price of Lithium-Ion, that would be the price from the first commercial product, which I expect was expensive for the time (it dropped in price around 30% in just a few years).
I read the title and thought it was battery capacity/$, not Lithium-Ion specifically.
I did. For me "battery" without any context or other modifiers means some kind of consumer alkaline battery.
If they have the word alkaline, they're about 3000 mah.
And there isn't much in between. There are a few other weird chemistries, but they're never on the sweet price-performance curve, so avoid them.
Long time ago I stumbled upon a great website with a Wh/€ (the metric that really counts) for almost all brands, but I couldn't find it right now
AA batteries are relegated to clocks, TV remotes, doorbells, and other low drain devices.
In that scenario, all alkaline are pretty much the same.
In that scenario, all different battery types & chemistries are the same.
Packages for things like dishwasher tabs usually have a number on them (in addition to weight/volume, which is mandated to be on the packaging).
The relevance relates to climate change. Our ability to scale battery production cheaply is pretty important for a range of green technologies. My main take-away was that we haven't hit those limits yet, lithium-ion batteries are continue to get cheaper as the capacity produced increases.
The price vs market size graph is a good summary: https://ourworldindata.org/battery-price-decline
Edit: I sent an email.
Edit: dang changed it, see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27431665