magnesium on periodic table of the elementsWhether you're talking about cameras, phones or electric cars, lithium is the current battery of choice. Lithium can pack much more energy than the nickel-metal hydride cells hiding in the boot of a Toyota Prius, but that doesn't mean that the rare earth metal represents the zenith of battery technology.

Bloomberg reports that scientists and engineers at Toyota's Ann Arbor, Michigan technical center are on the lookout for the next big thing in batteries, and the automaker thinks it may be on to something. Lithium's possible replacement is composed of magnesium and sulfur, and Toyota engineering manager Jeffrey Makarewicz reportedly feels the batteries can be ready as soon as the year 2020.

The problem with lithium, according to Makarewicz, is that it can only optimally hold about 2,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. That's apparently not enough spark to consistently power the plug-ins and EVs of the future. We're guessing Makarewicz is alluding to the fact that electric cars like the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf only have enough juice to venture 35 to 100 miles on a single charge, while even the most inefficient gasoline mills can travel hundreds of miles

So, will magnesium one day surpass lithium as the battery guts of the future? We have no idea, but we apparently have about a decade of patient waiting before we can find out.

[Source: Bloomberg | Image: Life123.com]