There is a new type of battery that has been developed for smart phones and laptop computers that should send a message to Tesla’s Elon Musk about the future. The new battery, developed by a company that spun of from the womb inside the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) can last twice as long as normal, solving a nagging problem that people who rely on technology to guide their every waking minute were demanding. The message that Musk might pick up when mapping future probability paths has to do with the rate of change. The delta to which he is modeling his Nevada gigafactory success is correlated with the performance driver of battery technology change. The rate of change, the delta, might guide the plant’s design to various degrees.
After droping out of Harvard, getting fired by MIT, new battery invented
The battery, produced by start-up SoildEnergy Systems, uses thin lithium-metal foil rather than graphite to deliver twice the staying power or half the size of traditional batteries.
Categorizing the development the “holy grail for batteries,” Qichao Hu, SoildEnergy’s colorful founder, said of the battery. He initially dropped out of Harvard University and was fired after six months working at MIT, he eventually received his PhD in 2012 from Harvard, the same year he co-founded SolidEnergy Systems.
This roller coaster career path is on the upswing as the firm recently closed $12 million in a Series A round of venture capital.
In battery technology, a high rate of change is likely the only constant
What matters for Musk is SolidEnergy’s second tier focus. While initially developing cell phone and laptop batteries for release in 2017 – focusing on a key societal issue for a large segment of society and likely building mass brand recognition in the process – the company’s next target is building electric car batteries.
The point is not that SolidEnergy is going to change electric car batteries forever. The issue is delta.
What SolidEnergy shows musk is that battery technology innovation is likely to continue to be one of the most fluid in business. This could impact how Musk views his own development of technology – and is willingness to accept or stubbornness to reject technical developments from other companies and inventors.
Not only will Tesla – and a host of other battery-related firms – need to adjust rapidly to the latest technology, but they will have to design their factories to be flexible enough to manage the future rate of change. That is a delta that is moving increasingly quick.