Speaker Interview - Prof. Stanley Whittingham, NECCES

Professor Stanley Whittingham is a lithium battery pioneer, able to stake a claim to its commercial invention some 40 years ago. Now working for the government-backed NorthEast Center for Chemical Energy Storage and continuing key battery materials research, he is also Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the New York Battery and Energy Storage Technology Consortium (NYBEST).

We caught up with him recently to discuss the current state of the battery sector and what we can expect from materials development globally.

Tell us about your role and responsibilities – what do you see as your core focus for the immediate and long-term future?

My major effort in the next year is to understand what is limiting a significant increase in the energy density of Li-ion batteries, so that cells can achieve 350-500Wh/kg compared with 200 today.

What are the biggest challenges/opportunities the battery sector faces? Can the US sector keep up with Asian battery manufacturing?

The battery sector has significant global momentum today, and it is not going to be slowed by any political actions in the USA; but the USA might get left behind.

Why do you think the EV market is still struggling to grow in the USA? Can regulation help further?

The EV market will only grow if there is the political will to go green. We have the lowest gas prices of any developed country, and don’t raise taxes to improve the infrastructure.

Which innovations do you see as the future of battery technology?

Increased energy density while maintaining safety and decreasing costs.

Which battery chemistries have a realistic chance in the race to become the next beyond-Li-ion incumbent?

Nothing will beat Li-based batteries for volumetric energy density, Li-ion will dominate for the next 10 years, then pure lithium – both will use a high Ni NMC. Li-S may be commercial after 10 years but will be used in vehicles only if the cost is much lower, as its energy density is lower than Li-ion.

Do you agree that solid-state technology has a bright future in most applications?

Not in the near future, as the cost is too high, though researchers are making remarkable advances

What are you most looking forward to at The Battery Show 2017?

I am most interested in discussing the status of systems with vendors.

You can see Prof. Whittingham's talk at this September's Battery Show in Novi, MI. For a full list of speakers, please click here.