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 …

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 – …

Formula Sun Gran Prix Shines

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The recent solar-powered race at Circuit of the Americas in Texas hosted 12 teams and an array of configurations and design approaches for an endurance contest that saw Oregon State University’s Phoenix circling the track 193 times for a victory.  Phoenix won a squeaker, followed closely by Illinois State with 192 laps and Iowa State with 191 laps. Although not racing the fastest car, Oregon State’s team was most persistent, drivers sometimes putting in four hours at a stretch in the heat-soaked cockpit.  The fastest lap went to Iowa State’s Cory Anderson (4 minutes, 42.289 seconds), while OSU’s best was 5:26.565. Phoenix ran its 661 miles over three days, the object being to travel as far as possible in that time …

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, …

More Heat Than Light – But Energetic, Nevertheless

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Mars Curiosity Rover is bigger than one would expect, over six feet tall and weighing 1,982 pounds. It travels up to 660 feet per day on its multiple wheels, looking for rocks to analyze with its ChemCam. Powered by the heat from its plutonium reactor, Curiosity will rove Mars for two years if all goes well. The heat is converted to electricity (which then drives the wheel motors on the rover) by a lead telluride thermoelectric material, a semiconductor which, capable as it is, has been eclipsed in efficiency by a new form of the material developed by Northwestern University researchers. Mercouri G. Kanatzidis, the Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry in Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts and …

The Sixth Annual Electric Aircraft Symposium

Dean Sigler Diesel Powerplants, Electric Powerplants, GFC, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The CAFE Foundation will hold its sixth Electric Aircraft Symposium on April 27 and 28, 2012 at the Flamingo Resort in Santa Rosa, California and at the Charles M. Schulz Sonoma County Airport, site of the Green Flight Challenge. Not only will there be a stellar lineup of speakers, but flying demonstrations of electric and hybrid aircraft, a first at any EAS. Jack Langelaan, team leader for the GFC-winning Electro Taurus G4 team, and Tine Tomazic from Pipistrel will share insights on the design and flight of the 403.5 epmpg aircraft.  David Calley, Chief Technical Officer for Motor Excellence, will describe ideal low-RPM motors for electric aircraft, and Mark Moore from NASA’s Langley Research Center will share breakthroughs in distributed …

Better Batteries: Powers of Ten

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The CAFE Foundation in its Electric Aircraft Symposia has put forth the idea of the 10X battery for many years.  Dr. Seeley therefore found a great deal of excitement in the following news. Researchers at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois have perhaps achieved part of that dream, with a graphene and silicon anode that yields a 10-times-faster charge and can hold a charge 10 times greater than that of a typical lithium-ion battery. Claiming their technology will be on the market in three to five years, the researchers have published a paper describing the research in the journal Advanced Energy Materials. A University press release explains.  “’We have found a way to extend a new lithium-ion battery’s charge life by …