Tuesday, March 28, 2017

The successor to lithium-ion batteries?

TechXplore reports:

A team of engineers led by 94-year-old John Goodenough, professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin and co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery, has developed the first all-solid-state battery cells that could lead to safer, faster-charging, longer-lasting rechargeable batteries for handheld mobile devices, electric cars and stationary energy storage.

Goodenough's latest breakthrough, completed with Cockrell School senior research fellow Maria Helena Braga, is a low-cost all-solid-state battery that is noncombustible and has a long cycle life (battery life) with a high volumetric energy density and fast rates of charge and discharge. The engineers describe their new technology in a recent paper published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science.

"Cost, safety, energy density, rates of charge and discharge and cycle life are critical for battery-driven cars to be more widely adopted. We believe our discovery solves many of the problems that are inherent in today's batteries," Goodenough said.

The researchers demonstrated that their new battery cells have at least three times as much energy density as today's lithium-ion batteries ... The UT Austin battery formulation also allows for a greater number of charging and discharging cycles, which equates to longer-lasting batteries, as well as a faster rate of recharge (minutes rather than hours).

There's more at the link.

OK, this is really interesting.  Imagine cars with three times the battery life (= range);  home energy storage units that are truly practical, for the first time;  cellphones, tablets and laptop computers with a battery life measured in days rather than in hours;  emergency radios that can be useful for days, even weeks, given a suitable battery . . . the possibilities are endless.

Quickly, please!



Borepatch said...

A major advance in battery technology would be a game changer in all sorts of ways. However, higher energy density gives more opportunities for mischief - in particular the bangity sort of mischief.

Phssthpok said...

"Imagine cars with three times the battery life (= range);"

Battery 'life' (number of charge/discharge cycles) =/= energy density (capacity, or 'range')

There are some nickle/iron 'Edison' batteries that are more than 100 years old (life) which can still charge/discharge 90%+ of their original capacity, though their energy density (capacity to mass) is abysmal compared to even a simple flooded lead/acid battery which, if meticulously cared for, one would be optimistic to expect ten years life from.

Though to be fair, the article claims increased energy density (range) as well as a faster charge rate (refuel time)and increased cycle count (life), so FASTER PLEASE!


Rick T said...

Using Sodium as the active metal is also pretty big. Sodium is easy to get compared to Lithium so cheaper as well. Wow, it is unheard of to improve all three axes (cost, density, recharge rate) at the same time...

Hopefully Musk's PowerWall designs can use any battery module, not just recycled units from Tesla cars...

Will said...

Still waiting on IBM's(?) carbon nano-tube battery/capacitor to hit the market. Cellphone battery charge time in seconds, car batteries in minutes, was the claim. Some time ago, they were stating maybe 7 years to market. I think it's gone over that time estimate.

Rick T said...

the problem with high speed charging is the load on the power grid, you need a huge bank of local supercaps to support the load.

Example: Tesla Model X can come with a 100KwH battery pack, and it is at 25% capacity, so we need 75KwH delivered to the battery. Factor in 95% efficient conversion to HV DC and 95% efficient charging (5% heat loss) you need to provide 83 KwH of energy. At 480 VAC and 3 phase power feed that is right at 100Amp-hours of energy. Not too bad, right?

Now try and deliver that energy in 6 minutes, about the same time it takes you to fill a 15 gallon gas tank. Now we need 1,000A on the feeder to support this 830KW point load for a few minutes..

For this to work they need a huge energy storage pool at the charging site (10,000 KwH to run 10 charges/hour is my back-of-the-envelope guess)..

bruce said...

We should offer a prize for a lighter than air battery.

LSWCHP said...

Perfect is the enemy of Goodenough.

Awww..c'mon...Someone had to say it.

Uncle Lar said...

Years ago Robert Heinlein introduced many modern technology concepts in his stories, solar power, space flight, and so on. As an engineer and former naval officer he had a firm grasp on what critical functions needed technological solutions. One of his ideas was a thing he called a shipstone, a device that much like a battery stored energy. In his vision of things you could either recharge one or simply exchange a depleted unit for a fresh one. Of course current battery technology falls far short of such a useful tool. Battery power fails to come close to the energy density of liquid fuels such as gasoline or diesel.
Safe high density energy storage would mean more than just electric cars. The solar energy falling on any residential home's roof could, if captured and safely stored for later use, allow the residents to essentially live off the power grid. But at present that takes extremely expensive solar cells as well as costly banks of deep discharge batteries to achieve.