BU-218: Summary Table of Future Batteries

Most future batteries function wonderfully in a theoretical world, but many fail to meet the eight basic requirement of the so-called Octagon Battery. Short cycle life and limited load currents often prevent commercialization of the breakthroughs. While futuristic batteries may find a niche market, many never step outside the lab and see the light of day, not to mention advance to power the electric powertrain. This touches with emotions and is as far as the battery can go.




Solid-state Lithium




Air cathode with lithium anode

Lithium anode; graphite cathode

Lithium anode; polymer separator

Lithium anode; sulfur cathode

Carbon anode; diverse cathodes

Voltage per cell






Specific Energy

13kWh/kg theoretical)


300Wh/kg (est.)

500Wh/kg or less




Rapid charge

Rapid charge

0.2C (5h)



Low power; inferior when cold

High power band

Poor conductivity when cold

High power (2,500W/kg)


Cycle life

50 cycles in labs


100, prototypes

50, disputed

50 typical


Not defined

Not defined


Not defined

Not defined



Needs improvement

Needs improvement

Protection circuit required

Safe; shipment by air possible


Started in 1970s; renewed interest in the 2000s. R&D by IBM MIT, UC, etc.

Produced in the 1980s by Moli Energy; caused safety recall

Similar to Li-polymer that started in 1970

New technology; R&D by Oxis Energy, Bosch and others.

Ignored in the 1980s in favor
of lithium; has renewed interest

Failure modes

Lithium peroxide film stops electron movement with use. Air impurity causes damage.

Dendrite growth causes electric short with usage

Dendrite growth causes electric short; poor low temperature. performance

Sulfur degrades with cycling; unstable when hot, poor conductivity

Little research in this area


Not defined; potential for EV

EV, industrial and portable uses

EES, wheeled mobility; also talk about EV

Solar-powered airplane flight in August 2008

Energy storage


Borrowed from “breathing” zinc-air and fuel cell concept

Good capacity, fast charge and high power keep interest high

Similar to lithium-metal; may be ready by 2020; EVs in 2025

May succeed Li-ion due to lower cost and higher capacity

Low cost in par with lead acid. Can be fully discharged.

Table 1: Summary of most common future batteries. Readings are estimated and may vary with different versions and newer developments. More information on BU-212: Future Batteries. Readings are estimated and may vary with newest development.

Last updated 2016-07-21


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Comments (2)

On October 12, 2017 at 6:00am
Kieran wrote:

Very useful information.
Are solid state lithium batteries expected to have the same nickel based cathode’s that are currently being used?

On August 11, 2018 at 5:18pm
Harold Dunstan wrote:

Are you going to add “Vanadium redox batteries” to your comparisons. I recognize thay are relatively new but current activity would seem to put them at the top of the list for high storahe requirements.