Smartphones, Electric Cars, and Green Buildings Need a Better Battery. This MIT-Trained Scientist Just Might Have Built One

The electric-vehicle market demonstrates some of the problems that battery makers have yet to solve. Today, most EVs still can’t go as far on a single battery charge as a traditional vehicle can on a tank of gas. But that EV is more expensive to make and to buy–in part because the batteries that power it are big, inefficient, and expensive. They’re the same, after all, as the batteries in your fast-draining iPhone, except that “there are about 10,000 times more cells in a car than in a smartphone,” says Carnegie Mellon mechanical engineering professor Venkat Viswanathan. “What we need for the mass-market electric car is some more reduction in battery cost and some increase in energy density.” Fewer than one million vehicles sold in 2016 were powered solely by batteries; but by 2025, that number will increase to eight million and another 25 million hybrids will be on the road, which combined will account for 31 percent of the global automotive market, according to JPMorgan predictions.