From The Mobilist Inbox This Week

The life of batteries, mandatory recycling, and new media

Each Wednesday, The Mobilist highlights reader articles on Medium, comments, and updates.

Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty

Life of batteries, redux: Last week, researchers at Stanford triggered a to-do in the battery world with a paper at Nature Energy suggesting that lithium-metal batteries had a problem: over time, the calendar life of such batteries plunged by up to 25%. The consternation was because of the implication — numerous automakers are looking to lithium-metal anodes to help bring down the cost of their next-generation batteries, a dream that could be threatened if they lost so much capacity.

But in a presentation yesterday to an audience of battery specialists on Slack, the paper’s primary author, Stanford Ph.D student David T. Boyle, sought to tamp down the fury. Boyle said the research was only meant to refer to a special type of lithium-metal batteries, known as “anode-free.” In such configurations, a much-sought new approach that can reduce costs and increase energy density, a battery begins with only a cathode; the anode is formed on the first cycle when the lithium moves from the cathode and is electrodeposited on the current collector.

The clarification calmed the storm, and the paper remains important. The debate it incited reflected a new reality in batteries, which are seeing much more attention and public debate on research breakthroughs. In this case, academic deference among the authors meant public clarification should come from their adviser, Stanford Professor Yi Cui, who said almost nothing for a week.

Production and recycling in Europe: In a piece at BatteryBits, a blog on the Medium platform, Charlie Parker describes the future of mandatory battery recycling under European regulation.

Adding notable new media from the battery and electric vehicle community: E for Electric, a YouTube channel with Alex Guberman, and Battery Insiders, a podcast with Simon Engelke.

Editor at Large, Medium, covering the turbulence all around us, electric vehicles, batteries, social trends. Writing The Mobilist. Ex-Axios, Quartz, WSJ, NYT.

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