From the CRADLE to the Breakthrough  Battery

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation Leave a Comment

Hyundai, the Korean carmaker turning increasingly to electric vehicles, has teamed with Ionic Materials, a Massachusetts-based battery developer to work on an innovative solid-state battery.  Ionic’s solid polymer electrolyte technology promised to improve battery safety and performance.  Liquid electrolytes are often blamed for disastrous battery fires, so the search for a solid-state alternative is one way to counter the problem. Hyundai’s CRADLE (Center for Robotic-Augmented Design in Living Experiences), “corporate venturing and open innovation business,” is investing in Ionic to gain access to the company’s technology, which also supports lithium-ion cells with no cobalt in their cathodes.  Reducing or eliminating cobalt in their batteries may be a major incentive for Hyundai.  Forbes reports, “Carmakers, such as Germany’s BMW, and electronic gadget …

Tripling Down on Cathode Capacity

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intercalation (countable and uncountable, plural intercalations) (chemistry) The reversible insertion of a molecule between two others. Wiktionary Enyuan Hu, a chemist at Brookhaven National Laboratory explains the importance, and limitations, of intercalation in battery chemistry.  “The materials normally used in lithium-ion batteries are based on intercalation chemistry. This type of chemical reaction is very efficient; however, it only transfers a single electron, so the cathode capacity is limited. Some compounds like FeF3 are capable of transferring multiple electrons through a more complex reaction mechanism, called a conversion reaction.” Iron trifluoride (FeF3) is composed of “cost-effective and environmentally benign elements — iron and fluorine.  Researchers have been interested in using chemical compounds like FeF3 in lithium-ion batteries because they offer inherently higher capacities than traditional cathode …

Two New and Unique Energy Storage Solutions

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Lithium-ion and lithium-polymer batteries of various brands provide energy for Teslas, Leafs, and Bolts, but continue to disappoint by stalled energy density, power density, and safety concerns.  Two relative newcomers to the field might have answers to these concerns.  Unlike many other newcomers, production might be less than five years away. Enovix Corp. Ken Rentmeester, a good friend and retired chemical engineer, volunteers in the local TeenFlight program run by Dick VanGrunsven.  He shared his copy of the IEEE Spectrum containing an article about a new battery company that may have some answers to problems common to lithium batteries. The company’s claims for their Enovix battery are impressive.  “Patented 3D cell architecture, a patented 100% silicon anode, photolithography, and wafer …

Kitty Hawk Flyer Shows Improvements, Limits Continue

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Kitty Hawk Flyer, the Larry Page-backed “sky taxi,” seems like a great summer escape machine. One can learn to fly it in about an hour, but it will remain low and slow enough to give the thrill of flight without inordinate dangers.  That’s the marketing pitch from Kitty Hawk, and it’s not a bad one.  Imagine going to a beach or lake with dozens of these fluttering about over the water’s surface.  It’s the same kind of lure driving go-karts on a miniature race course has for vacationers. Safety is obviously a factor for a machine meant for amateur use.  John Lyon explains this in the Robb Report: “The zero-emissions Flyer is completely powered by electricity, and its propellers all …

Get a Spine!  Flexible, High-Density Energy Storage

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The Vertebrate Battery “Prof. Yuan Yang of the engineering school at Columbia University (New York) modeled, designed, built, and fully evaluated a configuration that emulates the spine of vertebrates, while providing 85% of the energy density of a prismatic Li-ion cell with equivalent volume.” According to Power Electronics.com. Professor Yang’s 14-member team, working in the impressively-named Center for Precision Assembly of Superstratic and Superatomic Solids, and  inspired by the flexibility of the human spine and its ability to repeatedly endure bending and twisting, designed a battery that emulates the characteristics of what is in essence a structural battery.  We know from experience that our backbones can perform some pretty extraordinary twists and turns – witness the supple routines of gymnasts …

Airbus, Williams Team to Expand Zephyr Program

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What’s the HAPS, Guys? Airbus and Williams Advanced Engineering, two heavy hitters with the world’s largest commercial airliner and the world’s fastest formula electric cars, are collaborating on making a light, slow airplane stay up indefinitely.  Their memorandum of understanding (MOU) seeks to integrate Williams’ demonstrated abilities with “ultra-lightweight materials, battery technologies and electrical cell chemistries… in… Airbus’ Zephyr High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) program.” Airbus Defense and Space has worked with Sion Power Corporation since 2015 to use Sion’s proprietary lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) batteries for use in Airbus’ Zephyr aircraft.  The current Zephyr S is the latest iteration of a series of solar-powered, unmanned aerial systems (UAS) that will fly at 65,000 feet for months at a time. High Over Dubai …

109.5 minutes of Mad Creativity – Ending with an Electric Biplane

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Peter Sripol is part of FliteTest, a group that sells electric model aircraft and components and produces some wild and wooly YouTube videos of their exploits.  The group’s products are mostly budget items, with simple aircraft quickly constructed the norm.  One example, the Simple Solar radio-controlled plane, can be built for under $60, and flies on two coreless motors.  Flite Test has quick build kits and FPV (First Person View) radio systems that allow a pilot to view, through an on-board camera, what a (really tiny) person on board the model would see.  This level of miniaturization and commodity-level pricing allows FliteTest to provide STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) kits to schools at the grade and high-school levels. MTV …

Better Battery Materials – Asphalt?

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Asphalt, Graphene, and a Lithium Coating Mike Williams, reporting for Rice University in Houston, Texas, writes, “A touch of asphalt may be the secret to high-capacity lithium metal batteries that charge 10 to 20 times faster than commercial lithium-ion batteries, according to Rice University scientists.” We’ve written about James Tour and his laboratory before.  He and his students come up with a plethora of new energy ideas and are able to demonstrate some exciting outcomes.  His latest effort mixes asphalt with conductive graphene nanoribbons, and then electrochemically coats the composite with lithium metal to form a battery anode. The anode, when combined with a sulfurized-carbon cathode, was used in full batteries for testing.  The results seem a bit incredible, with …

Smart Fabrics Generate Energy Several Ways

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We see a great deal about wearable energy-generating fabrics, garments that will help keep the wearer warm, or cool, or visible because of built-in piezo-electric generators in the makeup of the fabric.  Several researchers are taking this to the next level, creating new warps and woofs of materials that will create energy from a greater range of energy inputs. Elias Siores and the University of Bolton In 2011, Professor Elias Siores and associates at the University of Bolton in the UK created a flexible fiber that could harvest energy from movement and light.  Siores said it was flexible enough to be woven into “a sail, window curtain or tent and generate power”.  The material was recognized as a major innovation …

Capturing Carbon and Making Airplanes from It

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Climate scientists have tracked the growing percentage of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, and noted a correlation between that rise and global warming.  Scientists from Michael Mann to Benjamin Santer have measured the changes in CO2 levels against climate change, with 97 out of 100 climate scientists accepting that human activities and rises in CO2 (and other greenhouse gases such as methane) are affecting our overall climate. Not to start an argument about this matter, this entry looks at a novel method of removing CO2 from the atmosphere and using it to make possible carbon materials that would be used in aerospace and other components.  The question of carbon removal usually includes some method of storing it.  Futurism.com has …