Battery 500 Consortium – A Budget Program with Potentially Big Payback

Dean Sigler Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The federal government is creating yet another round of incentives to “spark” development of “significantly smaller, lighter and less expensive batteries.” A consortium of researchers led by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will receive up to $10 million a year over five years to perk up battery performance, with the goal of creating a 500 Watt-hour per kilogram battery pack, about three times that of currently available commercial offerings.  The new batteries should be “reliable, safe and less expensive,” according to consortium director and PNNL materials scientist Jun Liu.  Research will come from partners nation-wide, including: Brookhaven National Laboratory Idaho National Laboratory SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Binghamton University (State University of New York) Stanford University University of California, San Diego …

Caging Silicon Anodes with Graphene

Dean Sigler Announcements, Batteries, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Yi Cui of Stanford University has expanded the idea of “battery” to include conductive ink on paper, fruit-like clusters of energy-storing capsules, and now, nano-sized graphene cages in which the energy can romp like a hamster in a plastic ball.  He will be on hand at this year’s Sustainable Aviation Symposium on May 6, at the Sofitel San Francisco Bay hotel. His pioneering work with silicon as an electrode material goes back at least ten years, and has focused on overcoming silicon’s two major problems in battery use.  Silicon expands and begins breaking down during repeated charge-discharge cycles.  It reacts with battery electrolyte to form a coating that progressively destroys performance.  The combination of crumbling and coating finally makes the …

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 …

Dr. Cui’s Pomegranate-inspired Battery Bears Fruit

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Dr. Yi Cui seems to get inspiration from food.  A few years ago, his research team came up with a “yolk-shell structure” that helped contain the high amount of lithium that silicon anodes were able to absorb.  That battery design promised much, and an embellishment of that design seems to hold even greater promise. His newest effort, working at Stanford University with the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, features an electrode “designed like a pomegranate – with silicon nanoparticles clustered like seed in a tough carbon rind.”  This approach, according to its inventors, overcomes several remaining obstacles to the use of silicon in a new generation of lithium-ion batteries. Yi said the battery’s efficiency and longevity are promising.  …

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, …