August 17, 2022

Lithium-Ion Batteries Have Plunged in Cost by 97% – Here’s the Reasons Behind the Rapid Cost Decline

MIT scientists find the most significant consider the dramatic expense decrease for lithium-ion batteries in recent decades was research study and development, especially in chemistry and products science. Credit: MIT News, iStockphoto
A new study finds that financial investments in R&D on products and chemistry were crucial, while economies of scale contributed rather less.
Lithium-ion batteries, those marvels of lightweight power that have made possible todays age of electric vehicles and handheld electronics, have plunged in cost given that their intro three decades back at a rate comparable to the drop in photovoltaic panel costs, as documented by a study released last March. But what produced such an astonishing expense decline, of about 97 percent?
A few of the researchers behind that earlier research study have actually now analyzed what accounted for the remarkable savings. They found that by far the greatest element was deal with research and advancement, especially in chemistry and materials science. This surpassed the gains accomplished through economies of scale, though that ended up being the second-largest category of decreases.

The new findings were published on November 22, 2021, in the journal Energy and Environmental Science, in a paper by MIT postdoc Micah Ziegler, current graduate student Juhyun Song PhD 19, and Jessika Trancik, a teacher in MITs Institute for Data, Systems and Society.
The findings could be beneficial for policymakers and coordinators to help guide spending top priorities in order to continue the path toward ever-lower costs for this and other essential energy storage innovations, according to Trancik. Their work suggests that there is still significant room for more enhancement in electrochemical battery innovations, she says.
The analysis needed digging through a variety of sources, because much of the relevant details consists of closely held exclusive business data. “The data collection effort was comprehensive,” Ziegler states. “We looked at scholastic articles, market and government reports, press releases, and spec sheets. We even looked at some legal filings that came out. We had to piece together data from various sources to get a sense of what was occurring.” He says they collected “about 15,000 quantitative and qualitative data points, across 1,000 specific records from around 280 referrals.”
Data from the earliest times are hardest to access and can have the biggest uncertainties, Trancik states, however by comparing various information sources from the same period they have actually tried to represent these unpredictabilities.
Overall, she states, “we approximate that the majority of the cost decrease, more than 50 percent, came from research-and-development-related activities.” That consisted of both personal sector and government-funded research study and development, and “the huge bulk” of that cost decrease within that R&D category came from chemistry and products research.
That was an interesting finding, she says, because “there were so many variables that people were working on through very various kinds of efforts,” consisting of the design of the battery cells themselves, their manufacturing systems, supply chains, and so on. “The cost enhancement emerged from a varied set of efforts and many individuals, and not from the work of just a few people.”
Over approximately a 20-year period starting five years after the batteries introduction in the early 1990s, he says, “many of the expense reduction still came from R&D. It was still the greatest contributor to cost decrease.”
The research study made the most of an analytical method that Trancik and her team at first developed to evaluate the likewise sheer drop in expenses of silicon photovoltaic panels over the last couple of decades. They also applied the technique to comprehend the increasing expenses of nuclear energy. “This is really getting at the fundamental mechanisms of technological modification,” she states. “And we can also develop these models looking forward in time, which allows us to discover the levers that individuals might use to enhance the innovation in the future.”
One benefit of the approach Trancik and her coworkers have actually developed, she states, is that it helps to sort out the relative value of various elements when many variables are changing all at as soon as, which generally takes place as an innovation enhances. “Its not merely building up the cost impacts of these variables,” she states, “because much of these variables impact various cost parts. Theres this sort of complex web of dependences.” The groups methodology makes it possible to “look at how that general expense change can be associated to those variables, by basically mapping out that network of reliances,” she states.
This can help offer guidance on public spending, personal investments, and other incentives. “What are all the important things that various decision makers could do?” she asks. “What choices do they have agency over so that they could improve the innovation, which is very important when it comes to low-carbon technologies, where were looking for services to environment change and we have limited time and minimal resources? The brand-new method allows us to possibly be a bit more deliberate about where we make those financial investments of time and cash.”
” This paper collects information offered in a systematic way to figure out modifications in the expense components of lithium-ion batteries in between 1990-1995 and 2010-2015,” states Laura Diaz Anadon, a professor of climate modification policy at Cambridge University, who was not connected to this research study. “This period was an essential one in the history of the technology, and comprehending the advancement of expense parts lays the foundation for future work on systems and could assist notify research efforts in other kinds of batteries.”
Reference: “Determinants of lithium-ion battery technology expense decrease” by Micah S. Ziegler, Juhyun Song and Jessika E. Trancik, 22 November 2021, Energy and Environmental Science.DOI: 10.1039/ D1EE01313K.
The research was supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the MIT Technology and Policy Program.

By David L. Chandler, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
November 26, 2021

Over roughly a 20-year duration starting five years after the batteries intro in the early 1990s, he says, “most of the expense reduction still came from R&D. The research study took benefit of an analytical approach that Trancik and her group at first established to examine the similarly sheer drop in costs of silicon solar panels over the last couple of years. They also used the technique to comprehend the rising expenses of nuclear energy. “Its not merely including up the cost results of these variables,” she says, “because many of these variables affect many different expense components. The groups approach makes it possible to “look at how that total expense change can be attributed to those variables, by basically mapping out that network of dependences,” she states.

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