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Battery evolution overwhelms mass production

New chips come out every year, always faster and more cost-effective. So do new devices using those chips, and new servers, and new technologies combining servers in new configurations. Not to mention new software at every level.

But all these changes at least have a common vocabulary. It’s called Moore’s Law. Better and better gets faster and faster, even while it grows increasingly expensive to build in a factory.

The industry has adapted to Moore’s Law by treating gear the way California farmers treat fresh fruit. A chip or computer loses value as soon as it leaves the manufacturing line. Speeding it through the channel to a buyer is the key to profit.

Batteries should be like that. But they are not.

Batteries are the big bottleneck between our world and a green future. Many are made with hazardous substances. They are difficult to dispose or and difficult to recycle. They take too long to recharge, they’re too heavy, they don’t hold enough charge.

Lots of big customers would love better batteries. Electrical utilities need them for smart grids. They’re trying to work with what they have, but they know what they have isn’t what they are going to have.

What they are going to have is going to be completely different.

Today, battery technology is undergoing unprecedented change. The change is so rapid that innovations can’t get into mass production before another innovation promising even more takes its place in the imagination.

Take EEStor for instance. Please. (Rimshot.)

Revolutionary claims. Lots of patents, but where is the proof? The only way to learn what’s really going on there is a critic’s blog — the company doesn’t have a Web site.

Maybe their ceramic battery works. Many cool technologies go through this kind of process, fits and starts, financial dances, big promises and delayed deliveries.


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