One of the thousands of teams across the world investigating the trillion-dollar problem that is increasing battery capacity says it's made a substantial breakthrough, one that manages to squeeze twice the capacity into the same space of current cells -- and it uses a simple tweak of existing lithium technology so can be incorporated into existing production lines.
The team from MIT's commercial spin-off SolidEnergy Systems says the magic trick it's come up with involves replacing the graphite anode with one made from a lithium-based foil instead. This denser and safer alternative ends up in a battery tech they call li-metal, and it's manufacture is said to be doable on current lithium-ion tools, so there's really no reason it can't quickly become a thing and we'll all have twice the battery power in our pockets from 2017.
Although what's more likely to happen is that we'll have the same capacities as before, only with slightly thinner everythings. The real exciting development will be when/if this hits the car world, where the giddy choice to either halve the weight or double the range ought to make electric cars vastly more sellable to the Clarksons of the world.
SolidEnergy Systems' CEO Qichao Hu said: "Industry standard is that electric vehicles need to go at least 200 miles on a single charge. We can make the battery half the size and half the weight, and it will travel the same distance, or we can make it the same size and same weight, and now it will go 400 miles on a single charge." [MIT]