Samsung Almost Doubles Li-Ion Battery Capacity – in the Near Future

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Several sources report on Samsung’s announcement that they have developed a new technology that enables them to coat silicon battery cathodes with high crystal graphene, virtually doubling the capacity of lithium-ion batteries. Of course, Samsung relates this immediately to their popular smartphones and tablets, but the significance of this is not lost on electric vehicle designers.  Doubling the range of EVs “without adding a single pound of weight” would be a true game changer.  But don’t get excited too quickly. Silicon electrodes have been a major research effort for people like Dr. Yi Cui, who spoke at this year’s Electric Aircraft Symposium.  Issue surrounding their successful use have included silicon’s expansion when being charged and contraction when being discharged.  This …

High-capacity, Soft Batteries From Trees

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

This is not pulp fiction, but pulp fact, trees being converted into squishy new nerf-like batteries. Researchers at Sweden’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Stanford University have made elastic, high-capacity batteries from wood pulp.  The foam-like battery material can withstand shock and stress, according to the schools.  Max Hamedi, a researcher at KTH and Harvard University, says, “It is possible to make incredible materials from trees and cellulose.” The wood-based aerogel material can be used for three-dimensional structures, important for overcoming certain restrictions imposed by two-dimensional approaches.  Hamedi explains, “There are limits to how thin a battery can be, but that becomes less relevant in 3D.  We are no longer restricted to two dimensions. We can build in three …

Bulletproof Batteries?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Researchers announce that a “New battery technology from the University of Michigan should be able to prevent the kind of fires that grounded Boeing 787 Dreamliners in 2013.”  The use of the word “should” is instructive, since scientist usually couch such announcements in more guarded terms. Battery separator materials are usually not the glamorous part of cell development, most headlines given to electrode and electrolyte breakthroughs.  Kevlar may be a way, within batteries, of preventing a breakthrough.  Nanofibers extracted from Kevlar, that impenetrable material in bullet-proof vests, “stifles the growth of metal tendrils that can become unwanted pathways for electrical current,” according to a University of Michigan report. Separator material stands between layers of other battery materials and ideally allows …

Ohio State’s Solar-Air Potassium Battery

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Ohio State University researchers have come up with a two-in-one solar cell/battery combination that promises great efficiency and low costs.  What’s not to like? Unfortunately for readers of the blog, it’s initially only a stationary system that will make energy storage a viable circumstance for large power plants, but it seems that the technology could be adapted to lighter, portable applications, such as electric vehicles. Ohio State is keeping somewhat mum about the patent-pending device, which they are developing as a commercial entity under the auspices of their spin-off, Kair (K for potassium, plus air and pronounced “care”).  We’ve heard a great deal about upcoming lithium-air batteries, but potassium-air is unique.  Even more unique, this battery stores energy from its …

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 …

Hybrid Batteries in Hybrid Vehicles?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Frances White of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) reports that a new anode quadruples the life of a test lithium-sulfur battery and could lead to much lower costs for electric vehicles and large-scale energy storage. This blog has noted that many researchers focus on development of better cathodes, or anodes, or electrolytes exclusively, neglecting a more holistic, or whole battery approach to their delving.  PNNL scientists have a reason for focusing on anodes, having found that a “battery with a dissolved cathode can still work.” What dissolves the electrodes in a battery?  “Unwanted side reactions,” according to PNNL, cause the battery’s sulfur-containing cathode to disintegrate slowly and form polysulfide molecules that dissolve into the battery’s electrolyte liquid.  This becomes …

Cheap and Dirty Fuel Cells – Good News for Hydrogen

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Hydrogen fuel cells would be just about the most wonderful power producers in the world if they weren’t so expensive and so finicky about their diet of hydrogen.  Their catalysts, usually made of costly platinum, can be destroyed by impurities in the gas.  Making high-purity hydrogen is an exacting task and adds to the expense of operation. Two studies by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory; one in conjunction with researchers at South Korea’s Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), Korea Institute of Energy Research (KIER), show that it may be commercially possible to make less expensive catalysts with available materials, and in one case, use “dirty” hydrogen that would otherwise destroy fuel …

Solar Cells and Artificial Photosynthesis Make Hydrogen Directly

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Science 2.0.com reports on an exciting potential breakthrough in solar energy and its direct transformation into hydrogen fuel.  Usually, solar cells generate current from photons, making electricity which can run things or be stored in batteries. This new and different approach, using an innovative and inexpensive solar cell and a metal oxide photo anode, can store nearly five percent of solar energy chemically as hydrogen. The metal oxide bismuth vanadate (BiVO4) photo anode includes a small dose of tungsten atoms, was then sprayed onto conducting glass and “coated with an inexpensive cobalt phosphate catalyst,” which helped speed up oxygen formation during water splitting. Science 2.0 reports Professor Dr. Roel van de Krol’s remarks.  He’s head of the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin …

Iodized Salt – Iodine Battery

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The Blog has reported on aqueous batteries, such as those developed by PolyPlus, a firm that has worked with the U. S. Navy to develop long-duration batteries compatible with sea water.  Sea water carries about 60 parts per billion of iodine by mass, from which we get iodized salt. Battery performance going swimmingly, the Riken lithium-iodine battery is said to excel in most areas Which may have been the starting point for Riken, “Japan’s largest comprehensive research institution renowned for high-quality research in a diverse range of scientific disciplines.”   Hye Ryung Byon and her team from the Byon Initiative Research Unit(IRU), have developed a lithium-iodine (Li-I2) battery system with a significantly higher energy density than conventional lithium-ion batteries. The Japanese New …

Stanford scientists develop high-efficiency zinc-air battery

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Battery researchers, including those at Stanford University, have been focusing for years on improving lithium batteries of multiple chemistries.  While IBM tries to create the 500-mile battery based on lithium-air reactions, and ReVolt in Portland works on perfecting a long-lasting zinc-air cell, Stanford researcher Hongjie Dai and his team claim to have “developed an advanced zinc-air battery with higher catalytic activity and durability than similar batteries made with costly platinum and iridium catalysts.” The resulting battery, detailed in the May 7 online edition of the journal Nature Communications, could be the forerunner of something with greater endurance and lower cost than current efforts. Mark Schwartz, writing for Stanford, quotes Dai, a professor of chemistry at the University and lead author of …