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Carbon Nanotube Batteries Pack More Punch

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the coast-to-coast-at-most dept.

Power 163

cremeglace writes "Researchers at MIT have come up with a new way of making batteries from carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotubes are attractive materials for battery-making because of their high surface area, which can accept more positive ions and potentially last longer than conventional batteries. Instead of this design, the MIT researchers introduced something new — using chemically modified carbon nanotubes as the positive ion source themselves. For now, the new batteries can power only small devices, but if the method can be scaled up, the batteries may provide the power needed for applications like electric cars."

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163 comments

Firist nano nano post from Ork (-1, Offtopic)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641406)

Whatever became of Mindy? She was kinda hawt.

Re:Firist nano nano post from Ork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32643332)

Whatever became of Mindy?

Probed to death by Orson.

YEAH! (0)

buanzo (542591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641416)

1st post. also, carbon nanotubes rock. come on guys, so much technology and nothing to replace batteries?

Re:YEAH! (3, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641576)

How about potatoes [slashdot.org] ?

Re:YEAH! (1)

whitedsepdivine (1491991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641846)

That seems green to me.

Re:YEAH! (4, Funny)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642276)

It isn't a good idea to eat green potatoes. Unless you are eating them with green eggs and ham, that is.

Re:YEAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32642166)

How about potatoes [slashdot.org] ?

Harvest the 'taters early; overcook them.
  Voila!
  Carbon nano-tubers!

Re:YEAH! (1)

Captain Splendid (673276) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642202)

How about potatoes?

Millions of starving Irish can't be wrong!

Re:YEAH! (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642396)

the funny thing is, if we can produce enough carbon nanotubes to make this battery mass producable, we could probably use those carbon nanotubes in a flywheel energy storage device that would have the energy density of gasoline, thereby rendering this battery somewhat obsolete.

Re:YEAH! (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643882)

No. We have no carbon nanotube-based materials that could make a flywheel anywhere close to batteries in terms of energy density. Individual tubes do not a similar bulk material make. Plus, flywheels have catastrophic failure modes, don't scale down well, and all sorts of other problems.

They have their uses, but if you compare what's on the market today to what's on the market today, and what's forecast versus what's forecast, it's really hard to make the case for flywheels. Heck, has anyone even broken 40Wh/kg yet? Flybrid is only at 22Wh/kg.

Re:YEAH! (2, Funny)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642478)

and nothing to replace batteries?

I hear that Nicolaus Otto has made great strides in the confined ignition of distillates. But work by Rudolf Diesel my lead to a even more efficient version.

Re:YEAH! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32642820)

Well I heard lawyers were considering expanding batteries to cover assault as well.

Re:YEAH! (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643970)

Sounds like you're perpetuating the "batteries haven't improved" myth. Batteries have advanced at about 8% per year for the past two decades, and show no signs of slowing down (actually, just the opposite). The problem is that most people experience batteries through electronics, and electronics' demands on batteries have grown nearly correspondingly.

Back in 1989, the best top-of-the-line rechargeable cells were the brand new NiMHs, with an energy density of about 45Wh/kg. Today, the best on the market are 220Wh/kg li-ions (or are they up to 240 by now?) And just watch as the new silicon-anode cells start rolling out (it's already started); they'll end up blowing the old graphite cells away.

If the rate continues, in another 20 years, a 215-mile EV today will be a 1000 mile EV. In 30 years, a 100-mile EV today will be a 1000 mile EV. Now, one can say, "Sure, that's the trend that's existed for the past 20 years", but it won't continue. Well, to be honest, as mentioned, the rate of advancement only seems to be increasing. There are literally dozens of next gen techs already being worked on that could hit the 15-20 year target but should only take ~5-10 years to commercialize. Will all of them work out? No. Will most of them fail to play out? Yes. But will all of them fail? There's virtually no chance of that happening. And already we have some techs in the lab that could hit targets in that 20-30 year timeframe -- li-air, digital quantum, etc. In fact, there was a huge advancement announced in Li-air just a couple weeks ago -- they got the efficiency up to ~85%, and think they can get it even higher. And they think it'll improve the lifespan, too (efficiency and lifespan were the two biggest problems with li-air).

Re:YEAH! (1)

Guspaz (556486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644348)

And yet here we are, 21 years later, and NiMH rechargeable cells are still the best available rechargeable technology for standardized form factors such as AA.

Walking through soot? (0, Redundant)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641418)

What does using carbon like this do to ones carbon footprint? Reduce it unless/until the batteries catch fire?

Re:Walking through soot? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32641642)

was this a bad joke or are you actually retarded?

Re:Walking through soot? (0)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642140)

The OP has a valid point if you bothered to take any chemistry classes or lit a cig in prison by popping a socket with pencil lead.

A little critical thinking might be nice to use, sometime, yes?

Re:Walking through soot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32642758)

are YOU actually retarded?

Re:Walking through soot? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642994)

was this a bad joke or are you actually retarded?

While I'll admit that the walking through soot - carbon footprint may not be the best joke in the world, it ain't that bad either. And no, I'm not retarded. I'm asking a legitimate question in order to prompt discussion and so educate both myself and my fellow Slashdot readers.

Battery research (2, Interesting)

Walterk (124748) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641428)

In the last year or so there's been a new battery research story every month promising longer lasting batteries that are smaller and usually cheaper. Yet the most advanced you can buy are still just play Lithium Polymer batteries which seem to power my Android phone for about 15 minutes.

Call me when this research turns into a produced battery.

Re:Battery research (3, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641722)

Obviously it's [Aliens|Battery manufacturers|the Taliban] who keep [buying up the patents|assassinating inventors|abducting scientists and anally probing them] in order to [build a new caliphate|prevent humans developing interstellar travel|protect their profits].

Sometimes it's more mundane (1)

Moraelin (679338) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641788)

Actually, a bunch of us don't particularly believe in any conspiracy, but are nevertheless kinda jaded and cynical after hearing one too many (or a few thousand too many) press releases that promise the moon and then some.

Don't get me wrong. I for one don't propose to cut their funding or anything. It's good that they research stuff. I do wish though the press and PR didn't have the tendency to grandstate.

Re:Sometimes it's more mundane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32642022)

Sort of like Space Nuttery. 50 years of artist's impressions and delusional fruitcakes selling Moon mining. Never gonna happen. Why? Simple physics. Same thing with some technologies. We're already close to the limits and it can't really be improved.

Re:Sometimes it's more mundane (4, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642142)

We're already close to the limits and it can't really be improved.

Yeah, I remember hearing a talk way back when pointing out that we're going to run out of shrink Real Soon Now because 100 nm is the absolute limit that simply can't be bettered. The guy introducing the talk said he'd given a similar one on the 60's or early 70's saying that 1 micron was the absolute limit that simply couldn't be bettered...

This is not to say that there aren't limits, but that we are terrible at predicting them. Anyone who confidently pronounces a limit on something is just announcing their ignorance of technological history, which pretty much disqualifies them from pronouncing a limit on something. It's the only catch...

Re:Sometimes it's more mundane (2, Insightful)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643824)

Yeah, well... when we're arriving at wires being tens of atoms wide, I'm tending to believe we're at the limits of physics rather than process.

Re:Sometimes it's more mundane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32644192)

That's not the limits of physics, it's the limits of wires.

Re:Sometimes it's more mundane (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32644232)

You say that, but wouldn't it be odd if we figured out some strange aspect of physics allowing us to use quarks in some fashion to construct things? I know, I know, I'm talking out of my ass most likely, but is it really that far fetched? Apparently some people thought we'd never manipulate atoms directly. Now we're looking at building nanomachines atom by atom. We're building electronic circuits so small that the uncertainty principle starts to come in to play. Until we've gotten to the point that we literally can't perceive a smaller particle, I'm of the mind that there's still gains to be made.

Re:Sometimes it's more mundane (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644084)

Describe the physics of the limit you refer to, for our enlightenment.

Re:Sometimes it's more mundane (5, Interesting)

Avtuunaaja (1249076) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642026)

Everybody knows that if you can design an economically viable improvement on present-day batteries, you are going to be wildly, obscenely rich. There are plenty of applications where people would be perfectly willing to pay several times more for a battery than what they are paying now if there was a significant improvement in capacity/mass. This leads to a lot of research being concentrated even on very wild potential ideas. Many are viable in the lab, but are too expensive to produce (by a margin of several orders of magnitude), too dangerous, too short-lived, or any combination thereof.

No matter how many misses there will be, this situation is more or less the ideal case for a free market to optimize for -- if it is possible to safely store more electrical energy in a smaller mass, it will be found eventually.

Re:Sometimes it's more mundane (1)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643046)

Just a minor point: "free markets" are like perfect circles: an interesting thing to think about, but they can't exist in the actual universe. Three cheers for markets, but thoughtful people should stop talking about "free" markets.

Other than that you make a very good point and state it well.

Re:Battery research (2, Funny)

dragonbutt (690833) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641818)

Call me when this research turns into a produced battery.

O.K. as long as your battery is charged... conversation limited to about 15 minutes.

Re:Battery research (1)

Icarus1919 (802533) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641826)

Agreed. And while we're at it, are there ANY nanotube products on the market yet?

Re:Battery research (3, Informative)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642688)

Yes, there are. High end golf clubs, tennis rackets and bicycles are starting to use carbon fiber enhanced with nano-tubes. It isn't 100%, but it is lighter and stronger than more traditional carbon fiber.

Re:Battery research (1)

Khyber (864651) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642206)

I guess you've not heard that we fixed the whiskering issue with nickel/zinc batteries. I've been using them in my devices and they're better than Lithium Polymer, NiMh, or NiCd.

Love that 1.8 peak and 1.6 nominal voltage, with a bit over the typical capacity of Ni-MH.

If only they made AAA versions.

Re:Battery research (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642212)

Lithium Polymer batteries which seem to power my Android phone for about 15 minutes. Call me when this research turns into a produced battery.

Since you won't get the call, you'll just need to keep watching the skies for our flying cars. The cells will be filled by fusion power, of course.

Re:Battery research (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642262)

15 minutes? You must be using the wrong batteries, or something. That's horrible runtime.

You can easily find single-cell Lithium rechargeables (18650 cells) with 3200Mah ratings which deliver 3V. They're not cheap, but they're not that hard to find, either.

I'm not saying li-ions are awesome, but you're kind of understating things a bit, eh?

Re:Battery research (1)

erayd (1131355) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642518)

A 3V 18650 cell would be a very flat cell! Nominal voltage for an 18650 LiIon is 3.7V, with a maximum of 4.2V.

Re:Battery research (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643596)

At 3200 mega-are hours (or 32 million square kilometer hours) that battery could supply one fifth of the total land area of the Earth with 3 volts for one hour, though. That's pretty powerful.

Re:Battery research (4, Insightful)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642808)

In the last year or so there's been a new battery research story every month promising longer lasting batteries that are smaller and usually cheaper. Yet the most advanced you can buy are still just play Lithium Polymer batteries which seem to power my Android phone for about 15 minutes.

How weird. The tiny lithium battery I put in my smartphone a year ago still powers it for at least a day's worth of use on a full charge, if not more depending on how little browsing and video watching I do. I won't spoil the ending and tell you what kind of phone I have; I will leave that as an exercise for the reader.

And for what it's worth, it may feel like an eternity but no less than 10 years ago we had no such fancy-fangled inexpensive lithium batteries for our phones/laptops. If you wanted one, it was gonna cost you, it wasn't going to hold much energy, and it would be dead with about 6 months of regular use. Today's very cheap, highly durable, very energetic lithium polymer batteries are the result of continuous un-sexy research that made headlines in the 80s and 90s, but is still undergoing a lot of change and improvement. The next revolution in battery storage will probably also happen without much fanfare; I hope your phone holds out until then!

Re:Battery research (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644066)

In the last year or so there's been a new battery research story every month promising longer lasting batteries that are smaller and usually cheaper. Yet the most advanced you can buy are still just play Lithium Polymer batteries which seem to power my Android phone for about 15 minutes.

The late '80s just called -- they want you to remember what their cell phone batteries [wordpress.com] looked like.

The problem is that batteries aren't advancing. They are, at about 8% per year. It's that electronics manufacturers aren't primarily using the advances so much for longer runtime, but for smaller size and higher power consumption.

But can they (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32641442)

But can they power my huge dildo when I shuv it up your arse?

Have they figured out the safety aspect? (4, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641458)

Will they be able to prevent thermal runaway in these better than in, say Lithium based batteries? As density goes up this needs to be more of a concern. Laptops melting down are one thing, but imagine the havoc of a car exploding due to battery failure. That's the last thing the electric car movement needs to have happen.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32641536)

Poorly designed gasoline-powered cars can ignite pretty easily as well. Look at the Pinto, or for a more recent example, Lamborghinis catching on fire every other week.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (2, Funny)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641592)

At least with the Pontiac Fiero, engine fires were truth in advertising!

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (1)

whitedsepdivine (1491991) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641918)

Who cares about safety in the lab? I say give Mythbusters some nano tube to make bombs out of.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (4, Interesting)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641926)

I fly a lot of R/C models ranging from turbines to electric powered helicopters. The chemistry in the batteries has changed over the years but the highest output batteries right now are lithium polymer. Now, there are some A123 type batteries that are better and getting better but most of the extremely high powered aircraft right now use Li-Po. Battery failures can be caused by several things but what alarms me about putting something like this in a vehicle is the hazard of fire in the even of an automobile accident. When you have a high impact with some of these batteries and a cell is ruptured - the packs begin to puff - then vent. When they vent, the heat is thousands of degrees which will set off other cells in the pack. Think of the old stories about exploding gas tanks in the event of a car crash. Now think of all of these batteries packed into tight places under trunks and back seats and getting rear-ended or even just a cell going bad...or the balancer in the charger going out and overcharging a cell causing failure in that cell. A failed charger can cost you your entire car...or better yet, your house. Think of this thing going up in the garage...and you having a gas water heater installed out there. This stuff is dangerous enough as it is right now.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (1)

neolith (110650) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643416)

Indeed. And when lipos go, they don't just go up in flames, or at least the ones in RC models don't. They produce an intense, almost blowtorch like flame that can cut through, melt, and ignite materials instantly. See the following video for an example of a 4000mah battery. That would be sufficient to power a 1/8th scale car for 10 minutes or so, or a 1-2lb stunt plane for a similar time. Now imagine something sized big enough to power a car.

There are containment devices sold that effectively (basically a kevlar/asbestos bag, although I don't think it was asbestos. Similar materials, though) prevents the discharge from destroying the surrounding environment. So I think you could engineer around this, but yeah. The dangers are very real.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32642012)

I am pretty sure before we see any of these in production vehicles they will be tested to death and regulated further.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643260)

I am pretty sure before we see any of these in production vehicles they will be tested to death and regulated further.

I believe "tested to death" is what the GP is afraid of!

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (3, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642232)

IIRC, thermal runaway, as you call it, is a problem specific to Lithium based batteries due to the chemical properties of lithium. It's somewhat volatile, you could say: impact and temperature extremes tend to do bad things to it (whether we're talking explody-boom or cell lifetime). Carbon, on the other hand, is innately stable.

Lithium powered hybrids are just a Bad Idea. I have no idea how they got that shit off the ground.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (4, Interesting)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642654)

But, "uh oh", these batteries still use Lithium! They simply have a new way of producing the electrode: "The result was a highly porous carbon nanotube electrode with lots of oxygens exposed on the surface, ready to bind with lithium."

Also, there is nothing inherently tragic about Lithium; any technology that stores and releases energy can fall prey to thermal runaway. In the highly-available-power world in which I work, we have seen lead acid batteries go into thermal runaway after particular amounts of abuse (or defective manufacturing/installation).

As someone who has used/abused lithium polymer batteries in the RC world (similar to the other respondent) I have seen what can easily happen to high-energy batteries when they are improperly maintained. The question is, what happens when there are hundreds of millions of these packs in cars all across the US, being put through various amounts of abuse? They will fail, and we need a safety mechanism that is highly reliable (like a re-enforced steel shell that can vent hot gases away).

The comparison to a gas tank is somewhat inadequate as these batteries are far heavier than gasoline; if you have a serious accident that compromises the frame of the car you really can't guarantee that the battery container is going to be unperturbed. There needs to be two or more dedicated safety measures to contain or divert the energy from the batteries away from the occupants in the event of damage.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (2, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644292)

any technology that stores and releases energy can fall prey to thermal runaway.

I'm so sick of this. Lithium-based battery technologies have a high energy/weight ratio because lithium is a very light metal. It has little to do with the fact that the spinel used for one of the electrodes is easily ignited. NiMH batteries are far safer and won't burn or explode the way lithium does, but because the metals used in them have higher atomic masses, they are also heavier for the same amount of energy.

People keep talking about burning batteries as if the problem with li-ion is that we're trying to pack too much energy in a small space, but a plutonium based RTG packs WAY more energy, yet will never undergo thermal runaway ( it obviously has other problems though ).

Chemistry is hard
Physics is hard

You can't pretend thermal runaway is due to energy density alone. The chemistry of the substances a battery is made of, the thermal conductivity of the electrodes, the physical size of the battery, the activation energy of the components... it all plays a part, and it's quite possible to store orders of magnitude more energy/volume or energy/weight than in a Li-ion battery without it being prone to thermal runaway. It's just not very practical for electric cars at the moment.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (2, Interesting)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642792)

When it comes down to it, it's simply energy density... The more you have stored in a finite space, the more potential for release there is and the greater that release could be...

I'm not saying its impossible to create something stable, all im saying is that certain conditions can have dramatic effects...

The amount of energy easily released by a tank of petrol (gas, whatever) is massive, but safety precautions that are taken now are fantastic compared to earlier days...

I'm sure there's a way to keep that energy trapped in a fairly safe way, but what I'm saying is there will be things going wrong once in a while and when they do, the greater the energy density, the greater the damage...

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (1)

PPalmgren (1009823) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644086)

I think there's a bit more to it, and one major physical hurdle to bypass. Gasoline, as a liquid by itself, is fairly harmless. When subjected to the functions of a car engine and combusted, its very dangerous. However, not much gasoline is ever in a place where it can combust into a huge fireball at one time (tank vs. engine). How is one going to accomplish this with batteries, which are by and large solids requiring close contact? Unless you can guarantee 100% that the massive casing for the battery won't be damage in a 100mph crash, another solution must be found.

If someone could invent a delivery system for a split battery similar to the fuel injection system, it would greatly reduce the dangers...but I can't think of a physically possible way to make that happen with a solid.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644022)

Lithium powered hybrids are just a Bad Idea. I have no idea how they got that shit off the ground.

Most cars stay on the ground, so it's all good.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644214)

Wrong. They're specific to *cobalt cathode* li-ion cells. Not any cells that have lithium in them. There are freaking rocket boosters made out of lithium-aluminum, exposed to high temperature flames, and they don't burn. Just because something contains lithium doesn't make it flammable. Just like how because our bodies contain sodium doesn't mean that we explode when we get hit by water.

The only companies pursuing li-ion cells with cobalt cathodes are Tesla Motors and their partners. The others are all using phosphates and manganates. Neither the phosphates nor the manganates pose a fire hazard. One, they take *far* more abuse to cause a problem, and two, all the phosphates generally do upon rupture is smoke. The manganates don't generally even do that.

Furthermore, even the Tesla approach addresses the problem. They do use the cells with the runaway thermal risk, but they isolate each cell in its own can specifically designed to contain any failure and prevent propagation. There have already been a number of Tesla Roadster wrecks, some very signicant [carpictures.com] (the battery pack is at the back). Not a single battery fire or other such problem.

Re:Have they figured out the safety aspect? (1)

Spoke (6112) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644102)

Will they be able to prevent thermal runaway in these better than in, say Lithium based batteries?

Unsure - they didn't make any references to thermal stability in the article. Now, since they are talking about improvements to the negative electrode material and not the positive electrode, it's possible it may not have any significant affect on the safety of the battery the technology is applied to since the relative safety is highly dependent on the rest of the cell chemistry.

The safety of existing lithium based batteries when the cell itself is ruptured depends highly on the chemistry of the cell.

For example, A123 lithium cells (lithium iron phosphate) can handle being drilled into with only minor heating and localized damage - no thermal runaway.

Most batteries which are going into the next generation of EV (Nissan Leaf, for example) use similar chemistries with similar thermal characteristics.

These batteries are not at all similar to the lithium poly batteries most people have experience with for their RC cars, phones, laptops, etc, except for the fact that they both have lithium in them. Lithium poly batteries are not stable under severe use/heat and will go into thermal runaway situations. The benefit of lithium poly batteries is that they are very light and hold more energy than lithium iron phosphate and similar batteries.

I'll believe it when I see it (2, Insightful)

AdmiralXyz (1378985) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641506)

Of all the technologies that are supposedly "just around the corner": fusion power, flexible displays, etc., dramatically improved batteries are probably the most wearyingly repetitive. Literally every 3 months since 2005 I've seen an article on Engadget, or wherever, about some university that claims 500% longer-lasting batteries in the lab, to be available to consumers "in 18 months". Ain't happened yet. Let's all claim success about boosting battery capacity when we can actually buy them, until then this is just so much hot air.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Low Ranked Craig (1327799) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641758)

if the method can be scaled up, the batteries may provide the power needed for applications like electric cars

Currently nothing to see here.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (4, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641884)

> Currently nothing to see here.

Yes, because none of us have any interest at all in developing technology. We just want to see the results on the market. Ongoing research? How boring. Wake me up when you can make my 'Pod run longer. Don't waste my time with this stupid "science" crap. That's for nerds.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (2, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643048)

iPod? Sorry, we only work on curing baldness, and making erections work longer.

(As there is no way to link to it, I’m including the quote here. Just imagine I would have linked to it ;)
“The years passed, mankind became stupider at a frightening rate. Some had high hopes the genetic engineering would correct this trend in evolution, but sadly the greatest minds and resources were focused on conquering hair loss and prolonging erections.”
— Narrator
Idiocracy (2006)

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32641812)

If the method can be scaled up, we'll have microtubes. In 5 years we'll have minitubes, and maybe 10 years from now, just tubes. I for one could use a tube.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (3, Insightful)

Cyberax (705495) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641892)

It's working. Battery capacity is increasing, albeit slowly.

It doubles every 5-7 years.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (3, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642180)

dramatically improved batteries are probably the most wearyingly repetitive

My vote is solar cells, which have had so many breakthroughs that will double their efficiency in the past few years that they must be converting 500% of the light that strikes them by now...

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

wisdom_brewing (557753) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642956)

Should be a poll topic...

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642240)

I read slashdot to also have prospective news. Granted, half of them are hogwash and that is for them that the comments system is so precious, but I don't want Slashdot to just give me news about released products, I want info about what's in the lab as well ! Sure, it means you'll get a lot of vaporware, but that is news for nerds also. I'm a bit tired of the nanotube batteries thing, there must have been 5 or so articles on that already and I just can't force myself to get excited anymore. But I prefer to see a few dupes than to miss a real breakthrough.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

WeatherGod (1726770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642298)

So, you take the marketing hype as what the scientific field believes the rate of progress will be, and then complain when the scientists don't meet the hype? I, for one, enjoy seeing these articles to see where the boundaries of technology are, and automatically filter out the marketing hype. If you don't want to hear about developments in high-tech research, then don't come to Slashdot or Engadget.

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642476)

i never really got the appeal of flexible displays. now see through displays, thats something i can get behind!

Re:I'll believe it when I see it (2, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644380)

What articles were you reading that said a battery tech would go from "in the lab" to "on the market" in 18 months? 5 years or so is more typical. And 500% battery improvement tech announcements are rare. There are a couple out there, like li-air, but not many. And many people confuse significant improvements on one part of a battery (say, the anode or cathode) with improvements on the cell as a whole.

Li-ion batteries have advanced about 40% since 2005.

There's a serious problem with the announcements making the news but the commercialization coming in under the radar. Remember back in 2007 [slashdot.org] when Slashdot covered that silicon nanowires had been determined to be an excellent anode for li-ion batteries? The reporting was crap, mind you -- they confused an anode density improvement "up to 10x" with being a whole battery improvement (even a 10x anode improvement would be an under 2x battery improvement if not paired with an equivalent cathode improvement, mind you). The researcher was looking to be "forming a company", but first they would have to deal with "cycle life" problems. The first batteries of this type were to hit the market as early as 5 years.

It's only 3 years later and it's already started [nikkeibp.co.jp] . Mind you, these first versions are much more limited -- they start out. But as the tech is refined, they will continue to advance, just like the old graphite anodes did. Early li-ion cells really sucked compared to what we have today. Silicon will go through the same process.

You see the same thing with cathodes. And other anode materials. And separators, and electrolytes, and casings. And all in all, the tech marches on. But consumers don't even notice it because their devices just keep shrinking the batteries and consuming more power. The battery improvement isn't Moore's impressive doubling-every-1.5-years. But it's just as relentless.

Didn't we just see this article? (1)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641512)

Something about carbon-based tubers the other day?

Always a Catch.... (4, Insightful)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641562)

...but if the method can be scaled up, the batteries may provide the power needed for applications like electric cars.

And it's that one big damn, 'if,' that actually prevents most technologies like this from seeing commercial production/practical application.

Re:Always a Catch.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32641880)

Don't worry. Creating hugetubes should be considerably easier than creating nanotubes.

Re:Always a Catch.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32642090)

The problem isn't the if, it's the money to solve the ifs.

The battery industry is centralized in Asia now. No bank is willing to lend to US researchers trying to start up a fab in the US, and they need that local fab to be able to create the industrial processes for production.

The Asians are likewise not stupid, they won't invest in a competitor to Lithium, especially not in another country.

I call BS (4, Funny)

Tekfactory (937086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641572)

Extra power packed into batteries by a Scientist named Shoe Horn!

Re:I call BS (1)

swalker42 (944794) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642162)

you made me do something that I try to avoid before commenting, you made me go and read the article. but looking at MIT's site there really is a Yang Shao-Horn. Unless this is just an elaborate ruse.

Failed Technologies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32641756)

We should all listen to the sage advice of the scholarly and forward thinking Kenneth P.Green (http://www.aei.org/scholar/112).

He considers such talk of electric cars, batteries, etc; as "failed technologies":
http://www.theoildrum.com/node/6619

Re:Failed Technologies (4, Insightful)

Monchanger (637670) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642312)

No. We should instead find someone who is not only intelligent but also honest to listen to.

The AEI who funds Green would love nothing more than to keep the world running on coal and oil until Armageddon. The pseudo-intellectuals they hire are no authority on science, technology, economics, politics, or even religion.

marathon (-1, Offtopic)

walterhanson3153 (1838458) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641816)

Site has been added to my RSS feed for later browsing because your blog is necessary forever. To know more abut "marathon training schedule" please visit: http://www.marathontrainingschedule.net/ [marathontr...hedule.net] [ marathon training schedule [marathontr...hedule.net] ]

Carbon nanotubes to power cars? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32641862)

My life's goal is to someday create a car powered entirely by Mexican jumping beans.

Some Day, Right (1)

Wingsy (761354) | more than 4 years ago | (#32641982)

Yet another new threat of new battery technology that may reach us some day. Been hearing this for so long that I've come to believe that the batteries we have today is all that will ever be.

Re:Some Day, Right (3, Interesting)

cacba (1831766) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642392)

You may try to apply moore's law to things other than cpus, but that doesnt make it happen. The frequency of the news articles shows only a huge demand by consumers and researches need for funding.

More punch is great and all.... (1)

earls (1367951) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642164)

But I'm really in the market for a battery that packs a bit more kick. Kick of the roundhouse type -- to the face!

even Chuck Norris would agree, (2, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642582)

Robert Conrad [imdb.com] > Chuck Norris

The issue is price anyway (4, Insightful)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642270)

There's plenty of battery technologies that perform well enough for cars already.
Lithium Iron Phosphate is almost ideal as an example. It holds less charge than a
Li-Ion pack, but in return it can recharge in a sensible amount of time ( 10-15min ).

Now I know some people with no clue will come claim that amount of energy can't safely
be transferred or something. You're wrong. Recharging a 25kWh battery pack (corresponding
to ~150km of driving) in 15 minutes would require 100kW. This is a bit more power than
most devices, but heck, my hairdryer does 2kw out of a standard socket, and I'm pointing
that thing in my face every morning. 100kW might be a lot compared to a cellphone charger,
and it will take a bit of engineering to design a connector, but it's hardly an unachievable
amount of power.

The problem is that these advanced batteries are expensive. Heck even Li-ion is prohibitive
for a family car. Tesla gets away with it because they are selling a luxury model, but if
batteries are going to power a significant fraction of cars then their cost has to come down.

The question now is not so much if but when batteries will take over. Much will depend on what happens
with the oil and electricity prices, but eventually petroleum will become sufficiently expensive that
an electric car is simply a more economical choice.

Re:The issue is price anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32642382)

American power grid supporting oodles of people charging up their cars at 100kw a pop? That would be a hell of a series of spikes, probably bring the dilapidated grid down.

Re:The issue is price anyway (2, Interesting)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644018)

American power grid supporting oodles of people charging up their cars at 100kw a pop? That would be a hell of a series of spikes, probably bring the dilapidated grid down.

Even if it was a problem in reality all that would be needed to mitigate it would be to mandate that chargers spend 1 minute at the start and end of a charging session to slowly ramp the power up/down. That would only add 1 minute to the total charge time, and since modern turbines in load leveling power plants can spin up and down on those timescales it solves the issue.

Re:The issue is price anyway (0)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643154)

Do you know why batteries are so expensive?

Re:The issue is price anyway (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32643196)

The problem is getting 100kW to your house, about 417 amps at 240V. The NEC standard for a single-family home is 100 amps, but most are only rated for about 60. The power pole transformers are usually well provisioned, which means that entire neighborhoods would need to be upgraded to increase everyone's capacity. It is a bigger problem than upgrading phone lines from copper to fiber.

Re:The issue is price anyway (1)

moonbender (547943) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644168)

Leaving all other problems aside: if the batteries recharge as fast as the GP says (10-15 minutes), it's not inconceivable to charge them at "gas" stations while the residential power infrastructure is being upgraded.

Re:The issue is price anyway (3, Insightful)

Spy Hunter (317220) | more than 4 years ago | (#32644224)

You don't need a fast charger at your house; overnight charging will work great using cheaper non-peak power, and will probably extend your battery life vs. fast charging all the time. Fast charge stations can be spaced as sparsely as gas stations.

Re:The issue is price anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32643992)

Wait...you blow dry your hair?

At least they don't promise "12 month" deployement (4, Interesting)

sirwired (27582) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642272)

Unlike the fuel cell guys, which are constantly promising consumer products shipping in "just a few months", I'm glad these folks realize their work is still well away from widespread application where it's really needed.

Epic article fail (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642348)

Electric cars face severe limits in how far they can drive before running out of juice. Better batteries that can both store more energy and give it up quickly [...] Detailed tests showed the new batteries hold five times as much energy as conventional quick-discharging devices called capacitors do, and they deliver that power 10 times as quickly as conventional lithium ion batteries can

So, less energy than lithium ion?

Useless - utterly useless - for "electric cars". Or indeed anything that currently works fine with lithium ion.

Can you think of an application that needs less energy than lithium ion, but more power? Shark-mounted frikkin' lasers, maybe.

So, you didn't read the whole article, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32642690)

Your questions are answered in the article. Down at the bottom, where they point out that this is useless for electric cars.

Re:Epic article fail (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642728)

In most designs regenerative braking has to throw away power because you can't charge the packs fast enough. A battery that CHARGES faster would be useful not only for quick-charging but also for regenerative braking. I didn't RTFA though so I have no idea if it carries more current in both directions.

Sad day for Afghanistan (1)

djscoumoune (1731422) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642534)

and their 1 trillion worth of lithium.

first posT.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32642570)

Wow! (2, Funny)

Rytr23 (704409) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642972)

Is there no end to the usefulness of these 'carbon nanotubes'? And, umm...how many decades before we actually see something commercially viable that uses them?

Combine these with solar panel breakthroughs... (2, Funny)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 4 years ago | (#32643142)

...you know, all the revolutionary achievements we read here every week...and our energy problems are solved!

even more powerful than the banana batteries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32644280)

if that suits you then there'd be no need to check out the end of this vdo clip; http://www.youtube.com/csetiweb#p/f

talk about batteries/secrets etc....? sheesh, i mean phewww. kind of makes bananas look like fruit, & nanos sort of nan0ish. better daze ahead? see you there?

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"The current rate of extinction is around 10 to 100 times the usual background level, and has been elevated above the background level since the Pleistocene. The current extinction rate is more rapid than in any other extinction event in earth history, and 50% of species could be extinct by the end of this century. While the role of humans is unclear in the longer-term extinction pattern, it is clear that factors such as deforestation, habitat destruction, hunting, the introduction of non-native species, pollution and climate change have reduced biodiversity profoundly.' (wiki)

"I think the bottom line is, what kind of a world do you want to leave for your children," Andrew Smith, a professor in the Arizona State University School of Life Sciences, said in a telephone interview. "How impoverished we would be if we lost 25 percent of the world's mammals," said Smith, one of more than 100 co-authors of the report. "Within our lifetime hundreds of species could be lost as a result of our own actions, a frightening sign of what is happening to the ecosystems where they live," added Julia Marton-Lefevre, IUCN director general. "We must now set clear targets for the future to reverse this trend to ensure that our enduring legacy is not to wipe out many of our closest relatives."--

"The wealth of the universe is for me. Every thing is explicable and practical for me .... I am defeated all the time; yet to victory I am born." --emerson

no need to confuse 'religion' with being a spiritual being. our soul purpose here is to care for one another. failing that, we're simply passing through (excess baggage) being distracted/consumed by the guaranteed to fail illusionary trappings of man'kind'. & recently (about 10,000 years ago) it was determined that hoarding & excess by a few, resulted in negative consequences for all.

consult with/trust in your creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." )one does not need to agree whois in charge to grasp the notion that there may be some assistance available to us(

boeing, boeing, gone.

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