The absolute necessity of rechargeable energy storage for long-duration space missions, and the extremely high energy requirements and cost per unit mass of launching material into space make the premium for high specific energy and high energy density rechargeable batteries in space applications as high or higher than in any other sector. At the same time, the costs of space missions, and the extreme danger of manned space missions and necessity of energy storage for survival also create an extremely high premium for reliability of rechargeable batteries. Therefore, reliable, long life rechargeable batteries with the highest possible specific energy and energy density are a cross-cutting technology of very high value for a wide range of NASA applications (such as EVA suits, landers, rovers, habitats, vehicle power, electric aircraft and power for payloads), and therefore potential costs of development and small-volume manufacturing for the proposed battery technology are not likely to be critical hurdles to its commercial application in NASA platforms. As such, the proposed battery technology has potential for commercial application across the full spectrum of NASA's exploration, scientific experimentation, defense, communications and monitoring missions.
Li-ion batteries have the highest energy density among rechargeable batteries today, and hence find diverse applications ranging from niche military batteries to widespread portable electronics devices such as laptop computers, tablets, and smartphones. Li-ion batteries are also being introduced in electric drive vehicle applications such as PHEVs and EVs. The highest specific energy and energy density (245 Wh/kg and 230 Wh/l, respectively) currently available in commercial portable power Li-ion cells represent the limits of state-of-the-art cell engineering, approaching the limits obtainable using current commercial cathode and anode active materials. Hence meeting NASA's target of 265 Wh/kg and 675 Wh/l represents a significant advance over the current state-of-the-art, and will find broad appeal in diverse applications. Higher energy density batteries are of significant interest to the military because of the possibility of reduced weight burden on the warfighter as well as reduced logistics footprint. The rapidly growing market for tablets and smart phones is placing ever demanding requirements on the Li-ion batteries that power these devices. Higher energy density batteries allow for thinner form-factors and lighter devices – advantages that appear to drive device sales, and hence are sought by device manufacturers. In the long-term, high energy density batteries will also be applicable to vehicle applications.