Cheaper Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Dean Sigler Fuel Cells, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Hydrogen would be a wonderful fuel if it were easy to get and easy to use.  It makes up 90 percent of all atoms in the universe, equal to about 75 percent of all the mass.  Hydrogen has been expensive to obtain because quite often its extraction from other matter entails using expensive catalysts such as platinum. Russia and America Team Up to Get Cheap Hydrogen Scientists from the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, working with researchers at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) and in Jinan, China combined efforts to produce hydrogen using sunlight and photosensitive lipids.  We associate lipids with getting blood drawn at the clinic, and waiting patiently to see how our cholesterol and triglycerides …

Superoxides May Be New Super Materials for Batteries

Dean Sigler Batteries, Electric Aircraft Components, Electric Aircraft Materials, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A significantly large and geographically diverse group of researchers has invested a large amount of time and intellectual capital investigating superoxides, an innovative way to keep lithium-air batteries refreshed and ready for more. Groups at Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Illinois at Chicago, Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea; the University of Utah and the University of Kentucky all contributed to the ongoing project. While still serving as U. S. Secretary of Energy, Steven Chu called on academia and industry to develop a battery five times as powerful as then available lithium cells, at one-fifth the cost of then current batteries. We may not have arrived at that ambitious goal yet, but Argonne and UIC see a possible breakthrough …

Milking Magnesium for All It’s Worth

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Magnesium carries two positive charges for every one which lithium carries.  This simple fact was inspiration for Jordi Cabana, a University of Illinois at Chicago assistant professor of chemistry in developing a magnesium-based battery.  Using magnesium in place of lithium led to this thought: “Because magnesium is an ion that carries two positive charges, every time we introduce a magnesium ion in the structure of the battery material we can move twice as many electrons,”  He added, “We hope that this work will open a credible design path for a new class of high-voltage, high-energy batteries.” Cabana and his associates have shown they can replace the lithium ions, each of which carries a single positive charge, with magnesium ions, which …

Lighter, More Powerful, Cheaper. Can J-CESR Bring Us Better Batteries?

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

$70,000 is a sizable base price for a car.   That sum for the simplest of Tesla S sedans makes a bigger than average debt load for most of us, probably more than most can responsibly assume.   Even the much anticipated model “E” at half that price is more stunning than the average sticker shock these days.  What if, by some act of art or science, that $70,000 could be slashed to $14,000 for an electric vehicle that could travel 265 miles on a charge?  That tall order is the order of the day for the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, started two years ago under Dr. Steven Chu, who was then U. S. Secretary of Energy.  He and his …

EAS VIII: Ultra High Energy Density Lithium Battery

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Qichao Hu is ​Cofounder, President and interim CEO of SolidEnergy, a battery company with a different technology and a unique business plan.  According to his company’s web site, he “Cofounded SolidEnergy while a PhD student at MIT, and led it through early stage business plan competition, fundraising, licensing and collaboration negotiation, and technology development. 2012 Forbes 30 Under 30 in Energy, and is a graduate of MIT and Harvard University.”  His team was also the Deployment and Infrastructure Category Winner in the 2012 MIT Clean Energy Prize competition. In his presentation to the eighth annual Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 25, Hu told about his Waltham, Massachusetts startup’s strategic partnership with A123, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory.  …

Ready or Not, Hydrogen Cars Are Coming

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

Toyota will sell hydrogen fuel cell- powered cars in the United States in 2015, Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations for Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc. claims, emphasizing, “Fuel cell electric vehicles will be in our future sooner than many people believe, and in much greater numbers than anyone expected.” Despite there being only 10 public hydrogen fueling stations in the US, with nine of those clustered in and south of San Francisco, and only one on the east coast, Toyota claims that they will be installing up to 100 additional stations in the Golden State in the next decade.  Already, 19 are under development, 20 more are “expected” in 2015, and the state has allocated $29.9 …

Record Conversion Efficiency for Plastic Solar Cells

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Megan Fellman, reporting for Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, explains a possible breakthrough in obtaining power conversion efficiency for polymer (plastic) solar cells  close to those for more expensive silicon cells. Fellman lists the benefits of the plastic cells: “Among the various photovoltaic technologies, polymer (plastic) solar cells offer unique attractions and opportunities. These solar cells contain Earth-abundant and environmentally benign materials, can be made flexible and lightweight, and can be fabricated using roll-to-roll technologies similar to how newspapers are printed. But the challenge has been improving the cells’ power-conversion efficiency.” Faculty members and students led by Professor Tobin J. Marks designed and synthesized new polymer semiconductors, “and reports the realization of polymer solar cells with fill factors of 80 percent – …

I’ll Take Manhattan

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

While much of battery research goes into crafting the ultimate anode, cathode or electrolyte, there seem to be few efforts, at least to outside observers, of integrated approaches to making a better total battery.  That may change soon, with the Department of Energy announcing formation of a new Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (J-CESR, or J-Caesar).   Dr. Steven Chu, U. S. Secretary of Energy, has established the Center at Argonne National Laboratory with a budget of $120 million over five years to create a battery five times more powerful and five times cheaper than today’s norms – all within five years. For those of us who’ve grown wary of those “breakthough” announcements that almost always include the line, …

Carbon Free or Carbon Neutral – Could New Fuels Save Us?

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Three companies – Air Fuel Synthesis, Cool Planet Energy Systems, and Joule Unlimited – are generating comment and controversy for their approaches to creating different kinds of biofuels. They all promise extreme reductions in carbon emissions and lower prices at the pump. Their output could use existing infrastructure for delivery, making them all desire able commodities if their promise can be achieved. Cool Planet  Cool Planet Energy Systems claims to be, “The only company producing carbon negative fuels using plant photosynthesis to remove CO2 from our atmosphere.” Its now patented approach recycles its solid products back into the soil, and using more of the liquid fuel products cleans the air more quickly, according to the firm’s web site. The company’s …

Better Batteries: 3x Life, 30-Percent Cost

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 5 Comments

The CAFE blog’s recent news about graphene electrode developments by Argonne National Laboratory in applications by Envia, a startup battery company in Newark, California, led to an almost immediate follow-up by another startup, California Lithium Battery (CalBattery), but with a different form factor in mind. The company’s purpose can be divined from their mission statement.  “Our mission is to become the leading United States-based developer and manufacturer of advanced, safe, high-performance Very large Format (VLF) lithium batteries for utility energy storage, EVs, and specialized industrial and military applications.”  These batteries would be used in transportation and stationary power markets in North America, Europe and Asia. Asked to define VLF batteries, founder and CEO Phil Roberts said that their transportation batteries …