Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

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absinthe beginner
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Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by absinthe beginner » Wed Aug 10, 2016 6:30 pm

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/201 ... ogy-smash/

The world's next energy revolution is probably no more than five or ten years away. Cutting-edge research into cheap and clean forms of electricity storage is moving so fast that we may never again need to build 20th Century power plants in this country, let alone a nuclear white elephant such as Hinkley Point.

The US Energy Department is funding 75 projects developing electricity storage, mobilizing teams of scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the elite Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs in a bid for what it calls the 'Holy Grail' of energy policy.

You can track what they are doing at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). There are plans for hydrogen bromide, or zinc-air batteries, or storage in molten glass, or next-generation flywheels, many claiming "drastic improvements" that can slash storage costs by 80pc to 90pc and reach the magical figure of $100 per kilowatt hour in relatively short order.

“Storage is a huge deal,” says Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist. He is now confident that the US grid and power system will be completely "decarbonised" by the middle of the century.

The technology is poised to overcome the curse of 'intermittency' that has long bedevilled wind and solar. Surges of excess power will be stored for use later at times when the sun sets, and consumption peaks in the early evening.

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Re: Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by Benbrutal » Wed Aug 10, 2016 8:56 pm

Might want to check out what Neah Power is doing with formic acid Hydrogen on Demand, and fuel cells.

ETA: spelling.
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Re: Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by RonnyRonin » Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:08 am

I'm kind of holding off buying into all kinds of tech until the battery situation improves. Faster charging; longer life; more storage; I would be happy with any two.

This pretty much is the key to everything from electric cars to power armor, and would make investing in home solar/wind/hydro much more appealing.
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Re: Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by raptor » Fri Aug 12, 2016 1:06 pm

absinthe beginner wrote: “Storage is a huge deal,” says Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist. He is now confident that the US grid and power system will be completely "decarbonised" by the middle of the century.
Well considering that 63.2% of the US power grid comes from carbon based sources and that it typically takes 10 years to get permits/design approvals and final engineering drawings of both the plant and infrastructure to utilize the power plants power. Then there is another 2 years for financing details never mind construction of the alternate energy sources.

Remember most power plants today are located at sites that are not likely to be ideal for alternate energy sources so the infrastructure to utilize this energy will have to be modified and installed.

In short assume 10 to 15 years per power plant to come on line. They have 34 years to replace 64% of the US power generation structure... so ... I suspect that deadline will not be kept. :D


BTW the bulk of the other power comes from nuclear plants many of which will be reaching their lifespan and will have to be shuttered or replaced during this same time frame.

Sounds like the need for civil engineers is about to expand drastically...that or the need for flash lights and personal generators is about to expand.




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Re: Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by Neville » Fri Aug 12, 2016 3:44 pm

Any new technology they develop will have to be scalable. This means two things. It will have to work well for HUGE demands such as to run a factory or to run a home, but also much smaller devices such as phones etc off of these batteries... and it will have to scale well in terms of total volume.

For instance, you discover a rare material that allows virtually unlimited power storage in something the size of your thumbnail... the catch is, there is only enough of that material obtainable to create a dozen of them, thus exhausting the globe's supply of that material. This is something that will be faced soon with catalytic converters and some other technologies... there isn't enough of that material on earth to permit unlimited growth, and when that limit is approached, prices skyrocket, making the technology infeasible before it is actually not do-able.

Also, infrastructure will have to support it. This is why hydrogen fuel cells never took off. It was realized that to duplicate the energy transfer of our current gasoline/diesel infrastructure, we'd have to have an enormous hydrogen supply system... and one problem with hydrogen is that it is very difficult to contain and manage at reasonable temperatures and pressures. It was a good idea on paper, but it just wasn't feasible out in the real world as a replacement for the current system.

If we go to all-electric vehicles (a move which I believe is an evenual necessity) we are going to have to drastically beef up the grid to handle that additional load. Solar cells will help but solar isn't going to do it all.

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Re: Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by LowKey » Fri Aug 12, 2016 4:30 pm

I suspect that part of the overall problem is dogmatic arguments or or against particular technologies.
If there was a low risk nucclear reactor design that could supply 99% of the worlds power needs, there would still be people protesting it's use because "Nuclear power is bad!!!"
Likewise solar (OMG..the pollution from making PV cells).

Let's face it. Any power generation has it's drawbacks, and unless we wish to go back to a tech level where all our power was supplied by animals we need to learn to accept the costs and simply try to minimize or mitigate the damage.


Or we can just make a really big vat of kool-aid and everyone can drink a cup.
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Re: Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Fri Aug 12, 2016 11:48 pm

One caveat: 5-10 years is a funding cycle, so everything is always 5-10 years away. It's good to see investment into better battery tech. There's a couple companies trying to get permission for new nuke plants too, to replace some of the coal plants.
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Re: Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by JayceSlayn » Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:40 am

Most of the OP projects would be better classified as energy-storage development rather than strictly battery development, but that isn't to say that we don't need to develop better energy storage on the whole.

The current generation of lithium chemistry batteries are really quite impressive, if you look at them with a fresh view of considering where we've come from lead-acid in the not-so-distant past. You have a battery that fits in the palm of your hand (usually about ~1/4 the volume of your smartphone), weighing a few dozen grams, that can power a smartphone all day or even a few more. That battery is also quickly rechargeable, with very high discharge/recharge efficiency, has a very high power density, and is safe to carry in your pocket (provided you don't puncture it and it lights itself on fire - which is a testament to the amount of energy contained within). Lithium is also a relatively abundant metal, which helps the economics slightly, but most of the cost of a lithium battery is manufacture.

I'd love to see another revolution in battery technology that makes a comparable leap over lithium, and we may yet see one still, but a great many people and resources have been dedicated to that effort for a few decades and we're still waiting for the next practical replacement. I think something that resembles a battery, but may actually be more like a fuel cell (or something else entirely) is more likely to be the next portable energy storage solution.

For stuff that is attached to the grid and doesn't have to be portable, there are lots of other options, and I'm not as familiar with the economics or engineering of most of them, but most of them seem fairly sound. Ultimately we'll need a little of everything, just like our energy production mix today, but it will be neat to see which comes to dominate.
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Re: Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by raptor » Sat Aug 13, 2016 12:29 pm

Very well said JayceSlayn!

JayceSlayn wrote: For stuff that is attached to the grid and doesn't have to be portable, there are lots of other options, and I'm not as familiar with the economics or engineering of most of them, but most of them seem fairly sound. Ultimately we'll need a little of everything, just like our energy production mix today, but it will be neat to see which comes to dominate.
I think you hit the nail on the head in that a diversified energy production ability is the key to reliability of the overall system. I also suspect that based upon the "tyranny of timelines" needed to replace generation units; a diversity of power generation sources will be the reality for quite some time.


If history is any indication the advances we are looking for will most likely will occur in areas that today are not on most people's radar. The current lithium battery technology is indeed far superior in many ways (not all but many) to lead acid including AGM technology. Its key drawback (IMO as a non-technical user) is cost. This will likely be addressed as production and sources of supply increase.

Maybe fusion power will be come a realty in this time frame. That said I have been reading that it is a decade away since the 1970's. :D

http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/ ... 69WwZgrLIU



One thing though, while energy storage is certainly very important for a variety of reasons, without power generation even the most efficient storage medium is nothing but a paperweight. The total power generation likewise has to, at some point anyway, equal the consumption (along with the resulting system losses). The storage technology also has to compliment the generation system. As a simple example a solar panel produces power only during daylight so any storage medium used in this case has to be able to accept this charge and discharge cycle.

All of these areas (generation, storage/discharge and power transmission) are areas ripe for innovation. It will be interesting to see what happens.

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Re: Breakthroughs in battery technology on the way?

Post by Halfapint » Sun Aug 14, 2016 1:06 pm

One of my biggest pet peeves against moving away from fossil fuels for wnergy is that "solar can't provide everything" or "wind can't provide everything." We are diversified now in power production now so why does one renewable need to fix everything. With the renewables the next argument is "they can't produce power when "X" happens I.E. Night, no wind, drought, etc.

That's where this storage comes in, and I've seen a lot of advancement in high tech options like batteries. But I've also seen a lot of interest in old thinking, like gravity batteries. I think again high tech is great, but loading a train with thousands of tons of rocks and when you have excess of energy production you send that train higher up. When you need more power you let gravity take it down an generate power.

You used to see things like this in some old homes with weights underground a way to store power was dig a deep hole and have large flywheels and motors so that when you need power you let the weights drop spinning the flywheels and turning the motors. The biggest draw back is that you don't have a god peak power generation with these old methods. That's where batteries with their fast discharge rates are key.
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