Better Battery Materials – Asphalt?

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

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 …

A Car (or Airplane) With That Cool Carbon Fiber Look

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

A research team at Australia’s Queensland University of Technology combined talents with scientists at Rice University in Houston, Texas to produce all-carbon structural panels that rival the best lithium-ion batteries for energy density, but can also be charged as quickly as supercapacitors.  In fact, the panels are supercapacitors, “a ‘sandwich’ of electrolyte between two all-carbon electrodes,” made into “a thin and extremely strong film with a high power density,” according to researchers. These lightweight supercapacitor panels can be combined with “regular” batteries to “dramatically boost the power of an electric car.”  This application would not be unlike Dr. Emile Greenhalgh and Volvo’s structural/electrical body panels. Postdoctoral Research Fellow Dr Jinzhang Liu, Professor Nunzio Motta and PhD researcher Marco Notarianni, from QUT’s Science and Engineering …

Gaining an Edge for Energy Production and Storage

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Rice University scientists who want to gain an edge in energy production and storage report they have found it in molybdenum disulfide.  From Wikipedia: “Molybdenum disulfide is the inorganic compound with the formula MoS 2. The compound is classified as a metal dichalcogenide. It is a silvery black solid that occurs as the mineral molybdenite, the principal ore for molybdenum.   MoS 2 is relatively unreactive. It is unaffected by dilute acids and oxygen. In appearance and feel,molybdenum disulfide is similar to graphite. It is widely used as a solid lubricant because of its low friction properties and robustness.” Let’s break down one probably unfamiliar term (it was to your editor).  A chalogen is one of the members of the Vla group in the periodic table and includes oxygen, sulfur, selenium, tellurium, and polonium.  Add a more electropositive element to …

Three Battery Technologies with Great Potential

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

It’s a good week when at least three battery developments show promise for electric vehicle use in the near future.  One advanced lithium-ion battery from France, a dual-carbon battery from Japan, and a supercapacitor that one can wrap around one’s finger comprise the trio. French Lithium-Tin Dioxide “Synthesizing nanoparticles of tin dioxide (SnO2) in the pores of a carbonaceous material,” researchers at the Institute of Materials Science of Mulhouse and Charles Gerhardt Institute of Montpellier, part of an electrochemical energy storage consortium called RS2E, have found the material to have “remarkable properties.”  Their work is the subject of a patent and published in the journal, Advanced Energy Materials. Researchers, hoping to obtain better performance that that achieved with carbon electrodes, tested …

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 …

Crushed, Rolled, or Slivered, Silicon Boosts Batteries

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Two different Rice University research teams are applying different but related approaches to using silicon in lithium batteries to make them more energy dense and longer-lived. One team recently came up with a paint-on lithium battery, announced a way to use otherwise waste silicon by crushing it and spreading it on anodes in their test batteries. This has implications for manufacturing because of the simplicity of the process. Dvice.com gives one hint as to why this might be good. “In lithium-ion batteries, for example, the anode is usually graphite, because it works well and is cheap. “You know what else is cheap? Silicon. The Earth is 28% silicon, making it the second most abundant crustal element by mass after oxygen. …

Rice – That’s Nice, and Lights Up, Too

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Rice University announced the development of a spray-on (in this case airbrushed) coating that stores electricity, a bit reminiscent of Stanford’s paper battery on which a coating could be applied to act as a battery. Mitsubishi has demonstrated a paint that could act as an extremely thin-film solar cell, but Rice’s technology shows promise. Five layers comprise the various components of a lithium-ion battery and can seemingly be applied to almost any surface, including in one demonstration, a beer stein – showing an intoxicating range of possibilities. But Pulickel Ajayan, materials science professor has more serious considerations. According to the University’s news.  “This means traditional packaging for batteries has given way to a much more flexible approach that allows all …

Combining the Best of Batteries and Supercapacitors

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 1 Comment

The CAFE Blog has been tracking developments in batteries and supercapacitors for nearly the last two years, and the annual Electric Aircraft Symposia have attracted speakers on a wide range of innovations in these areas.  Gizmag reminded us this week how much all of this may soon affect the ability of energy storage and power devices to change our world. Their report highlighted work on an energy storage system that combines the energy capacity of batteries with the power density and quick recharging capabilities of capacitors being done at Rice University, and linked that to research at the University of Illinois by Dr. Paul Braun on creating faster charging batteries with higher energy densities than currently possible.  Gizmag then did a …

A Thousand-Fold Point of Light

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants 0 Comments

Shortly after reading of MIT’s 100-fold breakthrough in light-gathering capabilities for solar cells, we saw the news about a one-thousand-fold increase claimed by Rice University researchers.  Professor of physics and astronomy Doug Natelson announced the findings of his research group, which includes his graduate student Dan Ward, and colleagues in Germany and Spain. In his blog, Natelson stated, “My student (with theorist collaborators) had a paper published online in Nature Nanotechnology yesterday, and this gives me an excuse to talk about using metal nanostructures as optical antennas. The short version: using metal electrodes separated by a sub-nanometer gap as a kind of antenna, we have been able to get local enhancement of the electromagnetic intensity by roughly a factor of …