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Discovery Report
Powering Up
Illustration by Chris Gash

Batteries have come a long way from the lead-acid technology that dates to the 1850s. In the US, battery energy storage capacity for the grid has nearly doubled every 2 years since 2011, with lithium-ion batteries representing the lion’s share of the technology. In 2019, consumers worldwide bought approximately 1.6 million all-electric passenger vehicles. In most of the cars, lithium-ion batteries replace gasoline tanks.

Despite these strides, batteries remain a small piece of the global energy storage puzzle. And batteries face obstacles to becoming a truly sustainable technology. Inside this Discovery Report, you’ll meet entrepreneurs who are boosting the amount of energy that lithium-ion batteries can store, pound for pound. You’ll hear from firms commercializing safer, nonflammable battery electrolytes, and start-ups trying to improve the batteries’ abysmal recycling rates. You’ll read about flow batteries, sodium-ion batteries, and much more.

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