Engineers May Have Hit the “Lithium Ceiling”

Written by Luke Sweeney
Posted December 6, 2022

This piece of breaking news forced me to do a double-take. 

One of the top engineers on Earth is claiming that lithium batteries have reached their final power limit. A few stubborn laws of physics are standing in the way of the perfect battery. 

I’ll admit that at first, I was doubtful. The "next great battery chemistry” is announced at least once a week, yet it never pans out. Why should this be any different? 

Lithium batteries are still the global standard, and EV companies have been claiming that more range and faster charging rates are right around the corner. 

Could every single one of them really be wrong? 

According to Simon Erhard, head of development for BMW’s forthcoming Gen6 battery line, his competition is trapped in its own hype cycle. Lithium batteries could already be reaching their peak performance as we speak.  

Erhard describes a situation similar to Moore’s law in computing. Technology can only rack up so many tiny improvements before it loses steam and an entirely new standard is needed. 

After all, according to basic physics, lithium can only store so much energy. No amount of clever engineering or shareholder pressure can change that. 

If a new successor to lithium-ion batteries isn't found soon, the next decade of lithium development will be defined by rapidly diminishing returns. 

Eventually, the lithium ceiling will be reached and progress will stall indefinitely. That could spell disaster for far more than just EVs. 

Shameless Self-Promotion or Doomsday Prophecy? 

Of course, Erhard included a small caveat: Lithium batteries aren't quite at their full potential yet. 

But he claims that BMW’s upcoming Gen6 line could become the last major upgrade this battery type will ever see. And he has the numbers to back it up. 

This next-gen technology promises up to 620 miles of range, 30% faster charging, and 60% less emissions during production. It will be cheaper, lighter, and overall better than anything else on the market. 

But there’s one problem: It’s still lithium.

Though we would never take the word of an industry insider bragging about his own product as gospel, Erhard seems to have unintentionally made an interesting point here. 

In 2011, the average EV could only travel 90 miles or less on a single charge. When the Tesla Model S burst onto the market in 2012, that average soared to 265 miles per charge. 

In the 10 years since then, the average EV range has barely increased past 300 miles. And in the past year or two, brand-new models have struggled to increase their range at all. 

It’s Moore’s law in effect. Lithium has given us all it can give — it’s time for a totally new battery chemistry to become standard. 

Solid Returns From a Solid Battery

Have you ever heard of a solid-state battery? It’s a complete redesign of our current battery standard. 

solid-state battery

You might notice that it still contains lithium metal. The current best design on the market still can’t do away with this wonder metal. 

It’s the only flaw keeping solid-state batteries from completely overtaking the market. 

But there’s one secret that the lithium industry would probably prefer to keep under wraps: Lithium is NOT the best candidate for the job. 

In its raw elemental metal form, lithium can theoretically hold more power than any other element on the periodic table. That’s great and all, but that doesn't make it the cheapest, safest, or most convenient — not by a long shot. 

Engineers are currently hard at work developing a new solid-state battery that replaces lithium completely. It instead uses a material that seems to break a few natural laws.

For one, it’s as close to two-dimensional as we will ever get in the physical world. Good luck wrapping your head around that. 

Sheets of this incredible substance are exactly one atom thick. Going any thinner would result in splitting of atoms and more than a few nuclear explosions. 

It’s nearly impossible to make. For decades researchers considered it "unobtanium" — a material that sounds plausible in theory but is impossible in practice. 

This science nerd is thrilled to tell you those days are over. Large-scale manufacturing of this mind-bending material is quickly becoming feasible, thanks to these engineering wizards. 

The company behind it uses some techniques that, again, sound like they're out of a particularly far-fetched science fiction story. But the end result is a material that can blast through the lithium ceiling and become the new global battery standard. 

To help get the message out there, our production team condensed months of research into this quick video. It breaks down this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity into the crucial basics: who, what, when, and why.

You’re still ahead of the curve, but only just barely. Once the ever-watchful mainstream media grab hold of this story, you’ll be hearing about it from Jim Cramer and his ilk. 

By then, it will already be too late.

To your wealth,

Luke Sweeney
Contributor, Outsider Club

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