Raising Cane at the Battery Works

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

What if a battery could be made with higher energy and power densities than those currently available, while exploiting a natural material that’s both abundant, recyclable and inexpensive?  Last year, the blog reported on Y. H. Percival Zhang’s work with xylose, a sugar found in most plants, to make hydrogen that could be used in fuel cells. Dr. Zhang, with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering and biotechnology from Dartmouth University, draws on his unique pair of specialties to inspire his forays into developing novel ways of extracting energy from natural sources. His latest effort is a battery that runs on maltodextrin, a polysaccharide made from the partial hydrolysis of starch.  That starch can be derived from almost any type of …

SolidEnergy Teams with A123 for High Energy Density Battery

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Take two Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) business incubator realizations, mix their strengths and watch for the potential breakthroughs that could come in the form of high-energy-density batteries. According to its web site, “SolidEnergy is developing a safe, high energy density, and wide temperature capable rechargeable battery that has the potential to transform the consumer electronics, electric vehicle, and downhole exploration (as in well drilling) industries. The core technology is called a Solid Polymer Ionic Liquid (SPIL) lithium metal battery.” Founded in 2012, “one of the toughest years in the battery industry,” SolidEnergy’s “…objective is to develop an insanely great next generation battery and commercialize it in the fastest and most efficient way.” This decidedly brash approach needs a steadying hand at …

Vanadium Oxide/Lithium Batteries Offer Promise of High Power, Long Life

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Henry Ford once brought a French metallurgist to Detroit, part of his plan to build cars with lighter, stronger steel.  Vanadium, which the French used in their automobiles, offered him the chance to make the Model T lighter and stronger, and its part in the car’s alloyed steel gave the Model T the longevity which followed it through one of the longest production runs in history. Now battery researchers are looking at another quality of this mineral, its ability to form a superior cathode for batteries that “could supply both high energy density and significant power density.   Combined with graphene, the wonder material du jour, vanadium oxide (VO2) could couple longevity echoing the Model T’s with charge and discharge rapidity …

Are Ultracapacitors Ready for Prime Time?

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 1 Comment

A January 3 article in Automotive Engineering International Online highlights the potential for ultracapacitors to take some of the battery market for vehicle power.  The positive side of ultracapacitors would seem to demand their use over that of batteries.  They can produce up to 10 times the power of batteries – important in acceleration.  They handle temperatures down to -40°C (-40° F), something which drops battery power outputs to near uselessness in many cases.  They last forever compared to batteries, can be charged in minutes as opposed to hours, and can even be recycled more fully than batteries – some of whose chemistries are toxic. Prices are dropping quickly.  A 3,000-Farad ultracapacitor sold for $5,000 10 years ago.  Today, it …