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"Home Batteries" Power Houses For a Week

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the probably-bigger-than-c dept.

Power 325

tjansen writes "Panasonic has announced plans to create 'home batteries.' They are lithium-ion batteries large enough to power a house for a week, making energy sources such as solar and wind power more feasible. Also, you can buy energy when it is cheapest, and don't need to worry about power outages anymore."

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Boom. (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544480)

I don't trust lithium-ion technology enough to want something with that much capacity in my basement. Wouldn't want my house to look like this [tmcnet.com]

I have a thousand watt-hour battery that runs my sump pum during a power failure, but it's lead-acid. They've been around for a loooong time and are pretty damn stable (even so, this one is in a concrete-walled sump room.) Lithium-ions have a ways to go before they can be considered as trustworthy, and their higher energy density just makes them that much more dangerous during a catastrophic failure. Yet another reason why I'd never buy a hybrid vehicle. The idea of sitting atop a massive lithium-ion battery pack makes me far more nervous than I've ever been about a tank of gasoline.

Re:Boom. (5, Informative)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544552)

Dude, most hybrids out there use NiMH batteries. Sorry to give you cognitive dissonance.

Re:Boom. (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544680)

Dude, most hybrids out there use NiMH batteries. Sorry to give you cognitive dissonance.

And why would that be? Hybrid makers would like to use the lightest, most energy-dense batteries they can to increase range, and if they're not using lithium-ions I'm sure there's a pretty good reason. Stability is probably one of them. In any event, if you crush a large battery (say, in an accident) what do you think is going to happen, regardless of the chemical system?

Re:Boom. (2, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544796)

I used to work in the automotive industry and I can answer you that. Car manufacturers and their suppliers never use the newest technologies. It takes years to switch technologies, both because older technologies are tested and approved and because of financial reasons (tools for older tech have to be paid off).

Re:Boom. (2, Interesting)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544860)

Forget crush (It's not that difficult to armor the batteries)... What happens when you short one out? I remember seeing a video of a firefighter cutting someone out of a hybrid. They went to cut the seat supports, and accidentally cut the 400v DC positive line that was running under the center console (It runs in a tunnel from the trunk up to the engine compartment)... It instantly welded the cutting tool to the ground, and proceeded to destroy (rather catastrophically) the batteries. The firefighter suffered some minor burns, and the victim was taken out of the car quick enough (Using a rapid extrication technique) to avoid further injury... The car was, needless to say, a total loss.

Between airbags and these large battery packs, cars are becoming more and more dangerous (Airbags do save lives, but have you ever seen the aftermath when a firefighter accidentally cuts the nitrogen cylinder to one? Or gets in the way when one accidentally goes off?)... I remember another video where a firefighter was holding C-Spine traction (Holding the victims head still, to prevent spinal injuries from causing more damage) on a 2 seat BMW. One that had explosive actuated rollbars that came up only in the event of an accident (I assume to maintain the aesthetics of the car). Well, while they were freeing the victim from the wreckage, the rollbars were somehow triggered. When it came up, it hit him in the neck right below his jaw and killed him on the spot.

Don't forget, safety is always a trade-off. Usually it's between safe and usable. Sometimes it's between safe under normal conditions for more dangerous in edge cases. Still others, it's safe vs practicality (which is where these home batteries probably fall). I'd imagine that building code would be altered shortly after these things start popping up in homes to mandate fire suppression systems where they are installed (or at least a fireproof compartment that they get stored it). Would that alter their usability? No. Would it make them less worth it? Well, that's for consumers to decide...

Re:Boom. (3, Interesting)

Zerth (26112) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544972)

I remember another video where a firefighter was holding C-Spine traction (Holding the victims head still, to prevent spinal injuries from causing more damage) on a 2 seat BMW. One that had explosive actuated rollbars that came up only in the event of an accident (I assume to maintain the aesthetics of the car). Well, while they were freeing the victim from the wreckage, the rollbars were somehow triggered. When it came up, it hit him in the neck right below his jaw and killed him on the spot.

[citation needed] /morbid curiosity

Re:Boom. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545030)

I'll see your battery anecdote and raise you "about 43,700,000" for gasoline - google images car fire [google.com] .

Re:Boom. (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545184)

Yes, gasoline can burn. But it's exceptionally rare for gasoline to explode (Quick bit of trivia. A full gas tank won't explode. There's not enough O2. One that's just about empty has a higher chance of going boom)... Not to mention that AFFF (Aqueous Film Forming Foam) firefighting foam can usually stop a gasoline fire quite effectively. How do you stop a battery fire? Put water on it (AFFF is mostly water)? A dry chemical fire extinguisher? More likely, just let it burn out... I've seen more than a few car fires, and most of the time unless the passengers are entrapped, they can get out quite easily before there's significant danger to them. That's why you don't hear many people dieing in car fires (well, ok, Not many relative to how many car fires there are)... When a battery goes up, there's little time to do anything since at the energies that are involved the fire can progress extremely rapidly (if not explosively).

Re:Boom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30545072)

Airbags do save lives, but have you ever seen the aftermath when a firefighter accidentally cuts the nitrogen cylinder to one?

Correction, airbags don't use nitrogen cylinders, they use sodium azide (NaN3) and potassium nitrate (KNO3) to produce nitrogen gas.

Re:Boom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30545084)

Got links to some of these videos? They sound pretty awesome.

Re:Boom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544864)

Longevity. The NiMH batteries in the Prius are guaranteed for 10 years. No way current Lithium-Ion batteries will last that longer. Think how long a laptop battery lasts.

Re:Boom. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544968)

In any event, if you crush a large battery (say, in an accident) what do you think is going to happen, regardless of the chemical system?

why, according to your logic, i imagine they would all convert to pure energy according to E=MC^2, since all that energy is bound up in it. I mean, obviously a shock will cause any arbitrary chemical system to release all its energy at once, right?

Re:Boom. (1)

metalix (259636) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545186)

Yep, the new Chevy Volt will be lithium, but the Prius and other hybrids are all NiMH. You said the exact reason why -- they were (still are?) the most proven battery technology at the time the cars were engineered. (That's also the "big deal" about the Volt -- GM is having to do a bunch of research to develop a car worthy lithium battery in a very short time.)

Re:Boom. (3, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544748)

Actually, next-gen hybrids are and will be using various types of lithium-ion batteries and several companies, including Panasonic, Sanyo, Hitachi, and Toyota are manufacturing them. Tesla Motors already uses lithium-ion batteries in their cars.

Re:Boom. (1)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544826)

Tesla motors started from scratch and that is the difference. Existing automobile makers producing hybrids right now won't switch to lithium-ion before 2012.

Re:Boom. (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544884)

Dude, most hybrids out there use NiMH batteries. Sorry to give you cognitive dissonance.

Well, most regular cars out there are filled up with gasoline. However, very few people would recommend storing enough gasoline in your basement to run your household for a week.

Re:Boom. (4, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545092)

On the other hand, very many households have massive oil or propane tanks in their basements. Gasoline just doesn't happen to be all that great for heating your house.

Re:Boom. (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545166)

Oil isn't as dangerous to store indoors as gasoline (just like less high-string battery technologies might be safer in a house).

If people have propane tanks in basements, that's news to me. I've always seen them outside a good distance away from any buildings. A quick Google search didn't change my impression.

Re:Boom. (1)

jabbathewocket (1601791) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544568)

Not to mention the size and cost of such a setup.. I would think that they would sell far more batteries (I am guessing this is the idea behind it from panasonic as a battery maker) would be to push a more "whole house UPS/power conditioner" type system.. a week of power? at a huge cost? for that one natural disaster where the rest of our backups dont work and we are left screwed? At that point a week is not enough .. or it is way too much.. (avg power outage across the entire US is 214 mins per year(70 in the UK. 53 mins in france, 6 mins in japan! data taken from http://www.emerson.com/smallbusiness/docs/power_outage_stats.pdf [emerson.com] ) I would think that most homes could do with a few hours of backup power (and many would pay just for the benefits of not having flashing clocks all over the house!)

Re:Boom. (3, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544768)

Not to mention the size and cost of such a setup

Well, it seems the only real benefit would be the ability to buy power when it's cheaper, but you know that if this kind of residential load-leveling becomes popular the power companies will adjust pricing to suit. Now, if battery-powered homes did reach significant numbers, it could really help the power companies keep consumption closer to base-load (and avoid lighting up expensive natural gas power plants) during periods of heavy demand. You know, like a hot summer day when everyone has their air-conditioning on. But for the individual homeowner, it really does seem like overkill. If our power becomes so erratic that these things actually start to make sense, I'm going to say we've a lot more serious issues to deal with.

So far as flashing clocks go ... all of mine take a 9V battery (or a couple of AAs) that will keep the clock chips alive for a day or two if the power goes off. No need for a basement full of lithium batteries! Besides, at least where I live I, I think the last power outage I had was about four years ago. Happened when the temperature was -15 outside and it got pretty damn cold in here before the power came back on, I will say that. Lucky I didn't freeze my pipes.

Re:Boom. (5, Insightful)

Mortaegus (1688452) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544774)

The idea really isn't to backup your power during an outage. The idea is to store power collected with on-site measures such as solar/wind and use the battery during times when these local power measure's aren't supplying enough. Another point would be to purchase power from the electric company when demand is low, and store for use when demand is high. Power companies could signal that demand is too high and the load is about cause problems, and people could switch to their reserves, in order to prevent damage to the grid. (Such as happens frequently when everybody runs their air coolers in the summer). I think that this would be a good measure to prevent the problems that cause blackouts, but I don't think it should, in all cases, be the consumer putting forth the effort to fix things. (At least in the US they need fixing). The power companies should put a few of these in the ground, and THEY can activate them when the need is there, rather than asking customers to handle it for them. Else they can damn well charge us a lot less than 60 cents per kilowatt hour. (Newark).

Re:Boom. (2, Insightful)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544780)

    I've looked at doing this in a home, with group 8D batteries. The price starts going up, when you start looking at inverters/charge controllers that can be grid tied.

    I laid out plans for using cheaper inverters (one per 15A circuit), and an independent charging system, but even still, the price is pretty high. That idea was to convert homes one circuit at a time, until they were fully "green".

    The idea of charging the batteries when the rate is cheaper will unfortunately go away as these are adopted. Right now, it's an insanely small amount of homes have their own battery room, and run off their own power during peak prices. If it even approached say 10%, the utilities would start charging accordingly.

    It's something I'd love to see. If they made these affordable for most homes, you'd see alternative energy sources take off. Ok, so I have batteries. Now I can put on a solar array, and a wind generator. I can supplement that with a generator (which most homes have, depending on your area). You'd see priority go to solar, wind, grid, and generator. The automatic inverter/charger/switches aren't exactly cheap though. And, they're frequently difficult to source locally. You can't exactly run down to Home Depot or Lowes and pick one up. The day will come though. They're already offering a small election of solar appliances (like solar attic fans).

Re:Boom. (4, Informative)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544794)

It's not the average times that get you. It's the outlier numbers that collapse into the averages. We've seen eight hours without power in -20 degreee F weather here in Montana. It's why I own a generator and can switch power to the (gas) furnace any time I want to. When you're talking about protection from power outages, what you want to know is does the power EVER go out for long enough intervals to do you damage: And everywhere I've lived - Pennsylvania, NYC, Florida, California, Montana - the answer is an unqualified yes. Right now, there's no sense going without UPSs for computer systems and backups for heating and critical power systems like fishtanks, refrigerators, etc.

The power grid is subject to people running into telephone poles, ice on the lines, old transformers bursting into flames, lightning and geomagnetic storms, human error, and a bunch more things. That's the nature of it - it's out there in the real world. You can protect a power system within your own walls such that it is much more reliable, and that's no slam on the power company - you simply don't have as much to contend with.

Now, if you have no pipes to freeze, no data to lose, no fish to watch float to the top, no freezers full of food to see turn into biohazard... sure, I can see depending on the average. After all... what could go wrong?

Re:Boom. (3, Insightful)

DemoLiter3 (704469) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544900)

So, this battery is supposed to be able to power an entire one-family home for a week. By a conservative estimate that would be around 100 kWh of capacity.
Modern Lithium-Ion batteries have specific capacity of 100-160 Wh/kg, but let's say Panasonic manages to extend this and will deliver 200 Wh/kg. Let's assume the half of this weight is Lithium, which puts the total Lithium weight for such battery at ~1000kg.
With a total world's estimated Lithium reserves of ~11000000 tonnes we can outfit around 11 million homes with such batteries before we run out of Lithium. Sounds like a solid plan.

Re:Boom. (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544916)

A week does initially seem odd but I'm guessing it's marketing. Like Tesla Motors, you sell to the McMansion crowd first where it might be good for distinctly less than a week. They can always downsize a unit when production costs are getting recouped.

On the McMansion front, think grounds security without worrying about watching and feeding a generator.

Re:Boom. (1)

hodet (620484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544580)

I am interested in your sump pump backup. I am looking for a solution. How long does it last? Where did you get the battery? Any info appreciated.

Re:Boom. (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544656)

I am interested in your sump pump backup. I am looking for a solution. How long does it last? Where did you get the battery? Any info appreciated.

I got the battery itself (a Hawker 6FV11) off of EBay. Got lucky too, it was brand new in-the-box. I also picked up a 2.4Kw inverter from EBay, and a 30 amp continuous charger. I actually have two separate pumps in my sump. One of them runs from the mains, the other (with a separate float switch set a few inches higher) from the inverter. Works well, and while I've never had to run the battery all the way down, in my installation I think it would run for several days to a week, depending of course upon how much water is coming in.

Re:Boom. (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544820)

"mind if I sit down?"

...now, about this bolshoi-style ballet theater...

Re:Boom. (2, Insightful)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544870)

Is the separate float switch for a second pump? I seem to remember the pumps themselves are not so expensive (compared to the batteries and rest of the setup). If the second float for the battery activation is on a second pump then it also helps if A) water is comming in fast enough to overwhelm the first pump (shouldn't happen generally anyway) and B) if the first pump fails

Of course, if you lose a pump AND have more water comming in than one can handle, then, your pretty screwed anyway.

Re:Boom. (2, Informative)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544950)

Is the separate float switch for a second pump? I seem to remember the pumps themselves are not so expensive (compared to the batteries and rest of the setup). If the second float for the battery activation is on a second pump then it also helps if A) water is comming in fast enough to overwhelm the first pump (shouldn't happen generally anyway) and B) if the first pump fails

Of course, if you lose a pump AND have more water comming in than one can handle, then, your pretty screwed anyway.

Yes, a second pump. It's an independent backup system in case either line power or the primary pump fails. Not infallible, but a lot better than depending upon a single pump. I did this after a power failure a few years ago almost left me with a basement full of water. Naturally, after spending all that time and energy I've never had to use it. Still, every so often I test it, and occasionally swap the power cables to the pumps to even out the wear and tear.

I looked into those 12-volt "Ace in the Hole" type systems and wasn't very impressed, and given that the second pump only ran about $80 and I got the rest of the stuff from Ebay for very reasonable prices I figured I'd do myself one better.

Re:Boom. (3, Informative)

Yewbert (708667) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544824)

Been there, done sorta that with the sump pump backup battery. You may want to consider something even more different. I have a city-water siphon pump backup. No battery needed. As long as my water supply is working, I have sump pump backup. Sure, it's not terrifically efficient, and wastes city water if it gets used - but that's cheap compared to the cleanup effort and property loss potential if my basement flooded again.

Re:Boom. (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544848)

    I saw the other response, but you may be able to source batteries locally. Check places that rebuild batteries. You can frequently find golfcart batteries (6vdc) or RV batteries (group 8D, 12vdc, 1200aH). Watch your charge cycle though. The lead acid batteries don't do so well if they're discharged below 50% frequently. Still, if you're only discharging 25% most of the time, the price is very affordable when they need to be replaced. I spent $65/ea for "rebuilt" group 8D batteries for my RV. They're used both for the "start" (to start the engine) and "house" (to provide lights and stuff inside the RV). My RV takes two just to start the engine (Detroit Diesel 6v92), and I couldn't fake that with 4 strong car batteries. I couldn't find 6 batteries to try a larger array with, but I doubt that would have worked either. I plan on putting in as many group 8D batteries as I can can fit in one section (probably 8 to 10). How long could I run my laptop on 12,000 aH? :)

Re:Boom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544622)

paranoia paranoia, everybodys coming to get me...

Re:Boom. (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544642)

So how about that natural gas stove, furnace, and water heater then?

Re:Boom. (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544722)

Well sure, it's a reasonable concern.

So put it outside. Sure this is a bit like a rural propane tank, but it serves essentially the same purpose.

But why exactly are you more afraid of a battery then a tank of gas? Gasoline is a great energy source for vehicles because the extractable energy is so dense. Throw in a match and there will be a fire. If that tank gets a leak, it will fill the room with explosive fumes.

I don't think it's that much more dangerous so much as you've become desensitized to the danger of gasoline, and have learned to mitigate the risks.

Re:Boom. (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544728)

I would surmise that it should be a lot easier for Panasonic to come up with a comparatively safe battery if they don't have to worry so much about the space and weight considerations prevalent with phone and laptop batteries. Bear in mind that a bank of lead-acid batteries can also present an explosion hazard while being charged.

I would be curious to see a realistic projection for lifespan of these batteries, though. Lead-acid batteries, while reliable, aren't good for much more than 5 years before they have to be expensively and messily replaced. Li-ion batteries should at least offer a saving on space, even if the lifespan is no better. I have no anecdotal information on what is required for recycling Li-ion batteries, but I doubt if the environmental damage could be much worse than that from the present lead-acid alternative.

Re:Boom. (1)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544792)

Maybe you would prefer this [www.cbc.ca] ?

Re:Boom. (3, Funny)

jcr (53032) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544894)

I don't trust lithium-ion technology enough to want something with that much capacity in my basement.

So, you keep it in a shed. What's the problem?

-jcr

Re:Boom. (-1, Troll)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545078)

Dude, your username is at the top of your post, right underneath the subject line.

You *really* don't need to add you initials at the bottom. Furthermore, this is not a formal letter "to whom it may concern", it's a bloody forum post. Would you initial a post-it note in the same way ?

Re:Boom. (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544918)


The idea of sitting atop a massive lithium-ion battery pack makes me far more nervous than I've ever been about a tank of gasoline.

Unfamiliarity often makes people nervous. I don't exactly agree with your assessment of old=safe. You might want to look into some sense of scale.

The average US home uses about 30 KW/h of electricity per day site [doe.gov] . A gallon of gasoline has the energy equivalent of 33.4 KW/h site [wikipedia.org] . 7 days is 210 KW/h. 210/33.4 is a little over 6 gallons of gasoline.

That's a decent amount of energy, but we already keep equivalent amount of energy in far more dangerous ways (you think that 5 gallon cheap plastic gas can you have in the garage is very safe? How long have they been around?)

So while I'd want to know what kind of safety systems this kind of system has, I also wouldn't reject it out of hand simply because the technology has "only" been around for around 30 years. Of course, why I'd ever need an entire weeks worth of backup power I don't know. It might be nice to have a day or two of backup power though for emergencies, or sudden power outages in the depths of winter.

Re:Boom. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544944)

Having seen several car fires, sitting on top of a full tank of gas makes me far more nervous than I've ever been about a battery.

Re:Boom. (1)

jimbobborg (128330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544954)

There was an article a while back about why Lithium Ion batteries are not being used in cars. An oil company in the U.S. has a patent on the technology.

Re:Boom. (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545142)

I don't trust lithium-ion technology enough to want something with that much capacity in my basement.

I'm glad your modded insightful. I'm sure a company that makes millions of Lithium Ion batteries a year, and has partaken in very large, very expensive recalls of bad batteries has not yet fully seen the risk of putting one in a house. I'm sure their corporate Liability Insurance and Crack Legal team just figures a few hundred houses a year burning down would just be a learning experience...

Fortunately, we have ArmChair Chemical and Electrical Engineers here on Slashdot to drum up the risk that is not obvious to a company that is in this field, and I'm sure they don't fully understand...

Mod parent "FUD" (0, Redundant)

yurtinus (1590157) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545162)

Certainly there's some risk of fire or explosion from a li-ion battery cell. I imagine just as there is risk of explosion from that propane tank in your BBQ grill, hot water heater, camp stove/lantern fuel, car tank full of gas, air compressor, and explosive diarrhea that you certainly no longer keep in or around your home!

But y'know, mindless paranoia has saved you from all those hybrid (NiMH) car battery explosions (that don't really happen... ever...). Phew, glad you dodged that bullet. Not to mention your link! God forbid ATT's equipment *outside* your house should fail catastrophically.

It's one thing to have a healthy fear of something that you can use it *safely*-- like say a gun or vacuum cleaner. It's entirely another to be ignorantly paranoid.

LeepII (1)

LeepII (946831) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544492)

Sounds like the shipstones Robert Heinlein wrote about years ago.

But how long does it take to charge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544496)

But how long does it take to charge?

But what about the massive environmental damage! (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544514)

We already have a dire shortage of earthworms, without which life on Earth would be impossible. Now Panasonics wants to kill all the earthworms in America by leeching dangerous lithium toxins into the soil for centuries. This is why science is bad for children and humans and we need to go back to nature and live in harmony with the worms and other creatures.

Re:But what about the massive environmental damage (1)

barfy (256323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544560)

LIthium is the second most common element in nature. And while there is a problem with air contact with Lithium, you are not going to kill all the earthworms with this.

Re:But what about the massive environmental damage (1)

barfy (256323) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544578)

Third most common. H He LI.

Re:But what about the massive environmental damage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544730)

What place does fire and water sit?

Sitting bull (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544844)

Preferentially, the one, in a fireplace, the other, in a stream. Next question?

Re:But what about the massive environmental damage (4, Informative)

welsh git (705097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544940)

both wrong. the periodic table has nothing to do with commonness.

From: http://antoine.frostburg.edu/chem/senese/101/periodic/faq/what-element-is-most-abundant.shtml [frostburg.edu] :

"On earth, oxygen is the most common element, making up about 47% of the earth's mass. Silicon is second, making up 28%, followed by aluminum (8%), iron (5%), magnesium (2%), calcium (4%), sodium (3%), and potassium (3%). All of the remaining elements together make up less than 1% of the earth's mass."

Re:But what about the massive environmental damage (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545056)

Gah, if you don't know basic stuff about science, I suggest you Google before posting! Or follow this link [wikipedia.org] .

Re:But what about the massive environmental damage (1)

Dr. Spork (142693) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544694)

LIthium is the second most common element in nature.

Um... your post makes me think that there's more stupidity in the universe than just about anything, inlcuding Hydrogen and Helium (and certainly Lithium).

Re:But what about the massive environmental damage (1)

p_trekkie (597206) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544798)

Actually, Lithium is one of the least abundant elements in the universe, at least in terms of elements that don't decay radioactively. Quoth wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

Though very light in atomic weight, lithium is less common in the solar system than 25 of the first 32 chemical elements.

The lack of lithium in the universe is one of the great unsolved mysteries in astronomy.

Re:But what about the massive environmental damage (0)

daveime (1253762) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545108)

Bearing in mind what happens when it comes into contact with the most common (i.e. oxygen), at least here on earth, I don't think it's *that* much of a mystery.

Re:But what about the massive environmental damage (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544630)

This is why science is bad for children and humans and we need to go back to nature and live in harmony with the worms and other creatures.

No, but it does show that some children are bad at science.

Uhh....lithium ion? (1)

ZosX (517789) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544526)

At room temperature and a full charge LI lasts like a whole 2 years before battery life starts to seriously degrade, unless there has been some breakthrough in LI technology that I was unaware of. Keeping it 75% charged or so maximizes battery life, but who would want a partially charged battery when the power goes out for 3 days in the dead of winter? Also what about cost? I don't really see this as a cost saving measure, but I do understand the importance of having a battery solution when you are generating your own power from inconsistent natural sources.

Re:Uhh....lithium ion? (2, Informative)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544590)

You don't see it as a cost saving measure? If you can charge the thing during off-peak hours, then run your house off the battery during peek hours, that's a fairly obvious "cost saving measure".

Of course, if you can save $1000 over two years but the battery runs you over $10000, it's not ready for prime time.

Re:Uhh....lithium ion? (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544838)

If you can charge the thing during off-peak hours, then run your house off the battery during peek hours, that's a fairly obvious "cost saving measure".

You're right, of course, but the power companies will find a way to take those savings away from you if this becomes popular, you know that. Well, at least the one in my State certainly would, that is, if they didn't get a law passed to make home power storage flat-out illegal. Wouldn't put that past them either. They're bloodsuckers: for example, manufacturers that try to set up self-generating facilities to save money generally find themselves in court. Power companies are like record companies: they don't want anything to interfere with the way they distribute their wares, even if those changes might prove highly beneficial and profitable. Excessively conservative, I guess you could say.

Of course, if you can save $1000 over two years but the battery runs you over $10000, it's not ready for prime time.

No argument there. I wouldn't buy into this just for the express purpose of lowering your electric bill. Really it's more for peace of mind, I suppose.

Re:Uhh....lithium ion? (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545112)

obviously if everyone was using them then "off-peak" would no longer exist as power draw would be nearly constant 24x7

Re:Uhh....lithium ion? (3, Insightful)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544634)

who would want a partially charged battery when the power goes out for 3 days in the dead of winter?

I would, since the status quo is no battery at all.

Re:Uhh....lithium ion? (4, Informative)

slyn (1111419) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544908)

who would want a partially charged battery when the power goes out for 3 days in the dead of winter?

I would, since the status quo is no battery at all.

The cool kids on the block already have natural gas generators hooked up to their houses in the case of power outage, and I would guess that a natural gas generator would last significantly longer at a significantly lower TCO than any currently available battery technology (when at the scale of powering a house).

Re:Uhh....lithium ion? (1)

iluvcapra (782887) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545022)

Right, I'm from Minnesota and a lot of people would have heating oil tanks in the back yard -- there's all kinds of solutions to this problem. The cleverest thing to do would be to arrange your home's power management in such a way that you don't need current to run most of the functions in the cold. Just about every appliance in the house can be run with gas but for the fridge, and in the winter it's pretty easy to see to that by just keeping it in an unheated part of the house.

Re:Uhh....lithium ion? (1)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544686)

if its for home use i dont see why the form facto is so big of a deal. i understand space constraints in JP but in the US anyway, a battery the size of a trashcan could probably be stored in a suburban garage with no concern whatsoever. i would think that even in Japan you could get away with a battery the size of a microwave oven without too much hassle. in these instances we would be talking about kWh rates that would be sufficiently large to make a significant impact on global warming. yes you heard me right global warming. peak usage at power plants could be streamlined dramatically. this would also decrease load on power plants giving them longer uptime, and you could probably see cost for electricity drop as a by product.

Tense (3, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544530)

We go from the future:

"Panasonic has announced plans to create 'home batteries."

      That is, the batteries don't exist yet.

      BUT:

      Also, you can buy energy when it is cheapest [only there's nowhere to store it at the moment], and don't need to worry about power outages anymore [well actually you still have to worry, because they haven't actually invented the battery yet].

      Who wrote this? I see a brilliant future for you writing prospectuses for investment bank companies. This is just hype. I for one will not be buying the $150k batteries that need special zoning permissions and need to be replaced every 3 years.

Re:Tense (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544604)

This is just hype. I for one will not be buying the $150k batteries that need special zoning permissions and need to be replaced every 3 years.

Cost is around $50K a year? That wouldn't make economical sense for anyone. Is there anyone here who shells out $50k a year to their electric company? Didn't think so.

Re:Tense (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544906)

This is just hype. I for one will not be buying the $150k batteries that need special zoning permissions and need to be replaced every 3 years.

Cost is around $50K a year? That wouldn't make economical sense for anyone. Is there anyone here who shells out $50k a year to their electric company? Didn't think so.

Well, if the things had a decent service life (15-20 years, say) and could be installed as part of the purchase price of a new home, and provided sufficient economic benefits to be worth the investment, I could see it happening. Maybe. But a pack with a 3-5 year lifetime is not going to cut the mustard. As I mentioned above, I have a 105AH Hawker AGM lead-acid gas-recombinant battery that runs my sump pump. Supposedly rated for 15 years service life, and banks of these things are used in load-leveling applications in large buildings. I once figured out how many of them it would take to run my house for a week, and frankly it was too many. So you'd need something more energy-dense for a whole-house application, but that's still a lot of energy to be packing away in an uncontrolled environment like a home.

Re:Tense (3, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544616)

Who wrote this?

Some Guy In A Blog, apparently. It's attributed to Fumio Ohtsubo, President of Panasonic (under a different, less common spelling) but links to no press releases or speeches.

Ohtsubo did an interview about Panasonic working on a kind of fuel cell/LiIon hybrid battery and making a $1B investment (in 2012!) in home power systems, including solar. Here is a link to an actual reputable news source rather than a blogger with poor reading comprehension skills:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601101&sid=ajhto3eO4fpM [bloomberg.com]

Re:Tense (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544802)

That makes way more sense than the original blog. According to your FA, Panasonic is shifting focus to intermediate power supply / control

The new technology will let consumers monitor their own electricity use and display the data on television sets, Ohtsubo said. The system will be able to connect and monitor all of the appliances in a house, and the solar panels may produce enough clean power to offset any carbon dioxide created from other power the appliances use, he said.

Batteries seem to be but a part of this.

Still, the cost / benefit ratio of this sort of thing is pretty hard to make work for the majority of consumers. Oh well, I had hopes of my annoying neighbor getting a really big LiOn battery. "No officer, I don't know why the house just exploded. No idea at all."

Re:Tense (1)

HeckRuler (1369601) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544756)

use-case scenario?

source? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544542)

Can we get an actual source, not one that injects pointless banal commentary, and actual shows where they got their information? kthxbai

Saving money (2, Insightful)

DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544544)

Wow, I can save pennies off my electricity! Now, how many centuries does it take for the battery to pay itself off?

Re:Saving money (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544678)

Not only that, how long does it last(lifespan)?
How much energy/cost is used to manufacture it?
How much energy/cost is used to mine the components?
Is the government planning on subsidizing and creating and artificial market?
It is like the idiot "liberal" on TV I saw who was asked where the electricity came from for the electric car.
His Answer: "The Wall", I damn near had a brain aneurysm explode from the stupidity.

Re:Saving money (1)

Binestar (28861) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545102)

It is like the idiot "liberal" on TV I saw who was asked where the electricity came from for the electric car. His Answer: "The Wall", I damn near had a brain aneurysm explode from the stupidity.

Was this a pop-news show where the normal audience would be wondering if they needed a "special" circuit run or a more technical audience? Either way, the question of where the electricity comes from is rather silly. We're all pretty much on the same grid in the US. So even if the power I'm using is generated with one thing, I always consider it as a percentage of each type generated in the US. We all share our sources. I say: Build more nuclear plants and reprocess the current waste. Hell, build one plant that specifically takes the waste from all the other plants and use it for generation.

Look out Sony! (1)

MiniMike (234881) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544570)

FTFA:

Panasonic is going to create one of the hottest batteries available to date.

Wow, after all the exploding battery stories, I can't wait to have this model in my house. Does anyone actually proofread these articles?

I'm not interested in storing energy for a week, but if I can have one of these hooked to a smart meter, and get a rate reduction for allowing this battery to reduce demand from the grid during peak hours, I' d be very interested. That battery could even be a lot smaller (and cheaper) then the whole-week version.

What a horrible article (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544572)

The page linked to is an ad laden (carefully selected related items, yeah right) mess that has this third or fourth hand. Even physorg just has a press release that mentions the battery and focuses on Panasonic acquiring Sharp and how harsh the corporate environment is.

How big is this thing? What is it's capacity? Is that a Japanese house, or a North American one?

Re:What a horrible article (1)

MeatBag PussRocket (1475317) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544744)

Panasonic acquired Sanyo, not Sharp, dont repeat facts unless you're gonna get them right

Re:What a horrible article (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545148)

Hey, I could be a blogger!

Re:What a horrible articlen - better source (1)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544922)

The page linked to is an ad laden (carefully selected related items, yeah right) mess that has this third or fourth hand.

True. The source is a badly written Bloomberg story [businessweek.com] which says the new battery has a capacity of "3.4 amperes per hour". I wrote to the reporter pointing out the meaninglessness of that number. The useful numbers for battery technologies are $/KwH and Kg/KwH, and they don't have those. The only useful piece of information in the story is that Panasonic will make a real announcement tomorrow.

Panasonic, another great American company (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544594)

Panasonic, another great American company leading the way to the future!

a weeks worth of power In 'Japan' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544608)

The average japanese household uses about 1/3rd the power of the average north american household. That works out to 11.7 kWh/day or 82 kWh a week.

Re:a weeks worth of power In 'Japan' (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544724)

apples and oranges, apples and oranges, houses and beds, apartments and futons.
I would like to see the Statistics on this and what data they used. got sources?

The advantage of lithium is energy density. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544662)

The disadvantage is cost. There are many battery technologies more suitable for this application than lithium.

Vaporware (4, Informative)

mi (197448) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544704)

Emphasis mine:

Panasonic has announced plans to create 'home batteries.' They are lithium-ion batteries large enough to power a house for a week, making energy sources such as solar and wind power more feasible. Also, you can buy energy when it is cheapest, and don't need to worry about power outages anymore.

Sorry, but if they have only just "announced plans", then, for the foreseeable future, I still can not power a house for a week, and I still need to worry about power outages.

Wake me up, when I can pick these up at Lowe's... Or, at least, order them online somewhere...

Indeed, TFA [nexus404.com] itself uses the proper tenses and gives the ETA for what currently can only be called "vaporware":

Panasonic is going to create one of the hottest batteries available to date. The new lithium-ion storage cell should power up a whole house in 2011 when it could be available to the general public. [...] No specific details about the future home battery from Panasonic have been given yet. In two years time we should know more about the device and Panasonic will definitely want to periodically show everyone its progress.

CmdrTaco, WTF?..

Re:Vaporware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30545168)

"Vaporware"? When Panasonic announces things, it rarely fails to come to fruition.

In fact if there is something in that post you quoted that I would be WTFing about it would not be "No specific details," but rather "Panasonic will definitely want to periodically show everyone its progress".

Panasonic hates to do this. I work for them as a product tech and they still don't tell me a god damn thing until release.

Excellent! But... (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544760)

I'm going to need a 16,000Ah rating at 48V, plus a 100kW inverter to power my 1600SF, 1960s ranch. Granted, it's not the most efficient home ever built, but it's all electric (yes, it's been upgraded to 400A/240V service, and I really do run through 800kWH a week during cold winter periods...which is when the electricity is most likely to fail).

Other considerations (3, Informative)

satsuke (263225) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544772)

Some of these technologies are of no use to those of us that live in areas where the cost of energy is consistent all day and night and year round.

Part of that maybe the problem (no intelligence in the infrastructure). But in the meantime if I were to have solar or any other resource put up that would benefit from stored energy for later use, it'll throw the payback vs normal utility curve way off to where I'd have to live here for decades to get my money back in anything but smugness.

As far as LI battery technology, it seems that the Prius used NMhd batteries because the number of charge discharge cycles was greater, since the batteries in the story were expected to have a cycle per day, the owner would have to replace them realistically every 3-4 years.

As far as the greater energy content of LI batteries, that is a risk that is always present with batteries. As long as the controller / charger is smart and has a layer or two of fault checking, the risk of runaway thermal events is pretty low. (The problem people had with Lithium Ion AA cell batteries where they are available was when people put them into standard NiCad or NiMh chargers, which apply too much current too quickly and make them pop to start fires. Since this is an integrated system by Panasonic with no capacity to mix and match technology evident, I'd say the risks is low.)

It would be possible with standard deep cycle lead acid batteries, but than you have to have climate control for your batteries above and beyond that proposed, and than your dedicating a good chunk of floorspace to batteries (You can't stack them because of heat buildup when discharging). I know the Central Offices I've been in have had a good chunk of their floorspace dedicated to just power, and even than only for the few minutes it takes for the diesel to kick over .. and you don't want to know what happens to expensive telephone equipment when it starts getting fed progressive amounts lower than 48VDC.)

I already have batteries (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544834)

I already have three [lead-acid] batteries providing emergency power in my house: the burglar alarm, the alarm's GSM modem, and the UPS serving the network cabinet. The alarm batteries are for obvious reasons; the network UPS is because I got tired of resetting the damn modem and router after every one-second power failure.

Outside of that, considering how rare power failures are, we have no reason for a whole-house UPS or generator. Should a hurricane cause a multi-day power failure, my calculations show that it's not worth $1600 for a standby generator to save $70 of food in the fridge. Like any good Florida residents, we have non-perishable food, bottled water, and a gas chainsaw at the ready. Our cell phone batteries can be charged off our cars' lighter sockets, or in the worst case, I could cannibalize the 12 V battery from the burglar alarm and MacGyverize a phone charger to it.

If our neighborhood should ever get a sewer main, there's a chance my house would need a sewer grind/lift pump. Likewise, if I ever decide to install plumbing in the basement--which is below the septic tank--I'd need a lift pump. Either of these situations would, for obvious reasons, tempt me to lay down $1600 for a 7 kW auto-start standby generator.

Battery maintenance (4, Insightful)

x_hexdump_x (525534) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544850)

Large UPS are common for data centers. But they are expensive and time consuming to maintain. In a data center the cost and time are justified. But for a home I would question the value.

Useful for mountain cabin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544856)

This could be useful for our hut that has no electricity. Charge it during daytimes using solar-panels and hopefully it will buffer enough for it to be usefull. :)

Wrong technology (4, Insightful)

Mprx (82435) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544890)

The only advantage of lithium batteries is high energy density, which is irrelevant for a static installation. For powering something as long lasting as a house it would be better to use something more robust. Nickel-iron [wikipedia.org] batteries have low energy density but are very robust. I wouldn't want a house battery I'd have to replace every few years.

There's other things besides Lithium Ion (3, Interesting)

adipocere (201135) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544892)

I'd prefer an EESU from EESTOR (if that ever happens), since it would be cheaper on a buck-per-Joule level and it would last for a very, very long time. Second to that, nickel-iron batteries, which are heavy and inefficient, but survive much abuse and have working lifetimes far longer than that of most other batteries. Pity they are no longer made in the United States; much of their price is presumably in just shipping them here.

And Santa will deliver them... (0, Troll)

Tony Reina (793494) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544912)

Wow! "Plans" to develop batteries in 2011. Stop the press!! And, I have "plans" to develop a pocket watch-sized nuclear reactor for my home in 2012. It'll be designed with gum drops and built by my own sense of self-promotion. Perhaps they should have mentioned that each home battery will ship with a copy of Duke Nukem Forever and delivered by Saint Nick. Please...

I dont think so... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30544936)

sorry, but this is BS.

50kWh Li-Ion battery pack in tesla roadster weights about 500kg, and I'm not sure if I want to know how much it cost. if you wants to know, it is about 36'000 USD (wiki...)
if your home consumes about 1kW per hour at average, these (half a ton, 36 grand) batteries batteries can power it for about two days. a week ? 1.5 ton and over 100 thousand for batteries !
are they nuts ?

what about safety? if they are overcharged or pierced it could have fatal consequences. how long will they last? even if it was 10 years, the cost is crazy.

Video of actual Lithium Ion battery fire (staged) (1)

rotide (1015173) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544958)

While this was staged for demonstration purposes, it demonstrates the power Lithium Ion batteries can expel when they fail.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeWq6rWzChw

Pretty sure I don't want a huge one of these in my basement...

Re:Video of actual Lithium Ion battery fire (stage (1)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545124)

Don't put it in your basement, or surround it with a metal garbage can and fireplace cinder blocks. I'm not going to let a remote chance of this happening stop me from saving money, esp when it is such an easy "disaster" to mitigate. Wasn't each electric light bulb a potential bomb when they first came out?

Makes more sense for utility to use these (2, Insightful)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 4 years ago | (#30544974)

For the purpose of storing intermittent wind and solar power,
the electric utility companies could use mass installations of
these batteries. Assuming they don't have hydro dams to
run in reverse using the wind and solar, that is.

Just like it doesn't actually make sense for everyone on your block
to own a lawnmower or circular saw or carpet steam cleaning machine,
it doesn't really make economic sense for everyone to have their own
batteries either. A central utility could buy and maintain batteries
with economies of scale.

Re:Makes more sense for utility to use these (1)

mlawrence (1094477) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545150)

How does a central utility having rows of batteries help YOU? The power goes down at your house, caused by a downed tree severing the power line. You're in the dark and cold! Comparing a necessity like electrical power to a convenience like a lawnmower or carpet cleaner is a bit off.

Nothing to see here (0, Troll)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 4 years ago | (#30545096)

Well actually there is. When you look at the picture it looks awfully similar to a whole bunch of 18650's shoved into a box.

and besides. Lithium ion sucks, anyone who has owned an iPhone/iPod for more than a year will know this. -20% a year at room temperature, 500 cycle life.

The only way this would be a viable way to power a house is if you took an absolute crapload of 'spent' li-ion batteries from consumer electronics for free and assembled the pack yourself then put it in the shed to extend it's short lifetime. I'd say your average spent li-ion will have a better energy density than a brand new lead-acid battery
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