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Stanford Researchers Invent Everlasting Battery Material

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the for-practical-purposes dept.

Power 180

judgecorp writes "Researchers at Stanford University have invented a battery material that could allow batteries to go through 400,000 charging cycles instead of the 400 or so which today's Li-ion batteries can manage. Among the uses could be storing energy to even out the availability of renewable sources such as sun and wind." Adds a story at ExtremeTech, "The only problem is, a high-voltage cathode (-) requires a very low-voltage anode (+) — and the Stanford researchers haven’t found the right one yet; and so they haven’t actually made a battery with this new discovery."

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I object to this (-1, Troll)

Pastor Jake (2510522) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161766)

Comrades in Christ,

I object to the term 'everlasting' as used in any form other than describing God Himself. When we interject powerful, all-reaching words such as this into casual, everyday conversation, we dilute the meaning so that our minds can no longer comprehend the intended meaning. Everlasting should mean forever, not 400,000. God is everlasting; these batteries, however, are not.

Your friend,
Jake

Re:I object to this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161790)

Well, I've got good news and bad news...

http://youtu.be/w3eTsNEgmL8 [youtu.be]

Re:I object to this (0, Flamebait)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161896)

God can't die - because he never existed in the first place.

Re:I object to this (0)

eugene2k (1213062) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162738)

That's not what they say on TV. And everybody knows: you can trust what they say on TV!

Re:I object to this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162786)

you're a piece of shit. how do you know asshole?

Re:I object to this (5, Insightful)

haruchai (17472) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163166)

Only God can be a piece of shit and an asshole at the same time; any lesser being would have to be one or the other.

Re:I object to this (2, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161938)

Everlasting should mean forever, not 400,000

I'm going to have to agree with the Pastor on this one. 400k isn't really "everlasting", it's got a finite limit to the lasting.

Re:I object to this (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162418)

But everything is eventually going to fail in 10^13 years when proton decay catches up with us. How about we define a reasonable target for everlasting for our technology, like maybe a human lifetime.

Re:I object to this (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162450)

There is no evidence at present that the proton is unstable, only the Standard Model's implication that it is. Current attempts to observe a decay have pushed the lower limit on the proton lifetime out to ~1e34 years.

Re:I object to this (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162632)

Well, even so, heat death will render all our technologies inoperable before then anyway.
Bottom line, there's little hope of human civilization lasting more than 10^20th years.

Sooner than that... (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163232)

Bottom line, there's little hope of human civilization lasting more than 10^20th years.

Unless we find a way to escape the solar system 5*10^9 years is our rough life expectancy and if we develop a good enough understanding of science to do that then who knows? Heat death is just the result of probability and statistics and we've already seen systems which can spontaneously decrease in entropy for short periods of time.

Re:I object to this (2)

narcc (412956) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163980)

there's little hope of human civilization lasting more than 10^20th years.

Thank goodness -- I was terrified that it would only be 10^15 years!

Re:I object to this (5, Funny)

StripedCow (776465) | more than 2 years ago | (#38164194)

400k isn't really "everlasting"

400k ought to be enough for anybody.

Re:I object to this (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161990)

You're not my friend, Jake.

Take your proselytizing bullshit and shove it up your ass.

Re:I object to this (1)

Tanktalus (794810) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162028)

The intended meaning is the same as "infinite" - which is not "beyond comprehension" but "beyond practicality". If I only have to buy two sets of batteries for my devices (one for use, the other sit on the charger for swapping) for life, that's infinite for all practical purposes. Maybe these batteries won't become heirlooms. But if their price is merely 10-20 times the cost of regular batteries, it's close enough.

Re:I object to this (1)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162282)

So they are not "infinite" and its just marketdroid speak. The only thing infinite is human stupidity.

Re:I object to this (2)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162438)

It's not the Heat
It's the Stupidity . . .

Re:I object to this (1)

LoudNoiseElitist (1016584) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162214)

Not sure if troll.

Re:I object to this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162558)

Can we assume you also have a problem with the movie The NeverEnding Story?

Re:I object to this (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162790)

Imaginary friends aren't necessarily "everlasting".

Re:I object to this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163742)

Oh? What is the answer to:

lim t->inf : friend * sqrt(-1) * t

"Renewable sources" (3, Insightful)

sugarmotor (621907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161780)

Nice to hear the phrase "renewable sources" being used.

renewable == wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161902)

It's free (as in gratis) and abundant.

Renewable only helps those idiots who deal with oil or uranium.

I say "idiots" because I'm not sure they are all evil.

Re:"Renewable sources" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163536)

Renewable resources? Has anybody read this article from today's slashdot headlines...
http://thebulletin.org/web-edition/columnists/dawn-stover/the-myth-of-renewable-energy

Re:"Renewable sources" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163576)

Indeed. Soylent Green is very renewable, so why use anything else?

Summary is out by an order of magnitude (5, Informative)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161784)

From TFA:

Stanford, however, has developed a new battery electrode that can survive 40,000 charge/discharge cycles — enough for 30 years of use on the grid.

Re:Summary is out by an order of magnitude (4, Insightful)

skids (119237) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161890)

...and the original article plays it loose with the 400 charge/discharge cycles figure for Li-ion. They took the low-end of the range from Wikipedia's Li-ion article. Typical is more like 1000 for standard chemistries and higher for some of the more stable chemistries like li-FePO4.

Still, nice to see even more evidence that there's a menu of options for improving battery energy density, cycle life, and calendar life. Now if we could just make an educated guess and pick a suite of them to develop into large scale production instead of constantly dithering waiting for the next grad student to up the bar and never actually opening a factory.

Re:Summary is out by an order of magnitude (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162184)

Kettle, meet pot. An "order of magnitude" is typically a factor of ten. Your example is more closely described by "twice".

Re:Summary is out by an order of magnitude (4, Informative)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162982)

Well, in all fairness, that's a binary order of magnitude. :)

  - I know, that's weak. But this is slashdot.

Other orders of magnitude may be calculated using bases other than 10. The ancient Greeks ranked the nighttime brightness of celestial bodies by 6 levels in which each level was the fifth root of one hundred (about 2.512) as bright as the nearest weaker level of brightness, so that the brightest level is 5 orders of magnitude brighter than the weakest, which can also be stated as a factor of 100 times brighter.

- Order of Magnitude [wikipedia.org]

And see, now you know how star magnitude is computed! :D

Re:Summary is out by an order of magnitude (2)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162462)

And it would also help if there was an actual battery in the first place
From TFA . . .
>> "The only problem is, a high-voltage cathode (-) requires a very low-voltage anode (+) — and the
>> Stanford researchers haven’t found the right one yet; and so they haven’t actually made a battery
>> with this new discovery."

Re:Summary is out by an order of magnitude (2)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163600)

Standard batteries in use today (say in laptops or smartphones) typically don't last longer than 300-500, and that's with greater capacity loss than 20%... then again, people really beat their batteries into submission - charging a smartphone during GPS navigation while the sun shines on the damn thing, constantly charging to 100% and keeping it charged all day while the phone's on the desk, running it down to 0% regularly (usually other people than the constantly charged ones - the memory effect still lives in the minds of those old enough to remember batteries before Lithium Ion)...

Hell, the laptop battery I'm currently using has only got 104 cycles and is already down to 22.08/28.80Wh - ~76%. Recalibration might pull that back up to 24Wh or so, but still... This is my beater-battery, so it's constantly being charged and discharged in tiny increments, but it's still pretty gruesome.

Wind and sun are renewable? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161788)

So how do we recycle them exactly?

Re:Wind and sun are renewable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162092)

Wind is 'recycled' in the sense that the same air, that gets energy taken out of it by a wind turbine, then circulates around the globe, gains energy, and can pass through the same turbine again.

Solar is not strictly speaking renewable, but there is so much of it and it will last such a long time, that there is no practical difference. Indeed, every single other source of energy except nuclear is ultimately derived from the sun. The question is, what is the timescale for the energy source to recover so that it can be reused. For fossil fuels, the natural rate of generation is something like 8 barrels per day. That is approx a million times slower than we are using it up. For solar power, the answer is 'intantly'.

Interestingly, by this measure, the only energy source that is not renewable in any sense (since it is a finite resource and will not regenerate) is uranium. Although again in practice, it is often included in the "renewable" sector, simply because it isn't a fossil fuel.

Re:Wind and sun are renewable? (2)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163022)

Hmm. I think that wind energy is in part derived as drag on the rotation of the Earth - the atmosphere is being dragged around the Earth along with the hard part of the planet, but since it is farther from the center or rotation it wants to move a bit slower (just as artificial satellites have slower rotation rates as their elevation increases). That explains why the net wind is from east to west. Of course a bunch of related effects related to sherical shape, coriolis force, thermal gradients in both elevation and latitude, etc. cause winds at different latitudes and elevations to go in different directions. So windmills are ever so slightly making the day longer.

Re:Wind and sun are renewable? (3, Informative)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163274)

Wind is generated only in part by the earth's rotation. Some of it also comes from solar energy, which heats parts of the atmosphere, causing it to rise, which then causes a low pressure zone which causes inrushing air currents.

Re:Wind and sun are renewable? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162428)

We radiate the excess into space, then get a new batch the next day. The cycle continues!

whatever (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161798)

the only everlasting thing that I am interested in is erection and orgasm.

just starting.... (5, Informative)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161806)

and the Stanford researchers haven’t found the right one yet; and so they haven’t actually made a battery with this new discovery
They have hypothesized an ideal, microscopic unit device that might be mass produced. They are just starting the applied research phase and may need some additional basic research

Re:just starting.... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161930)

They are just starting the applied research phase and may need some additional basic research

I don't think that's as big a deal as you seem to indicate. It took that Manhattan project about five years to go from theoretical to practical. Of course, they put in a lot of effort and resources. On the other hand, they didn't have anything like the computer modeling that we have today to help them.

It might take a few years to get to a battery that could make renewable sources practical, and it might take a lot of effort and resources. But it seems that spending the time and money to get there is definitely a better approach than just waiting for the oil fields to start refilling themselves, or figuring out what kind of massive geoengineering it will take to deal with increasing levels of greenhouse gases.

It's already starting to be a problem. Waiting for it to be a really bad problem before we look for solutions doesn't make sense.

Sure, Solyndra didn't work out as advertised, and maybe they got the money for reasons other than them having a really good idea. But I'd rather see an effort and a failure at something like solar rather than just spending the same 500 mil convincing people that tar sands and a really long pipe is going to be anything like the answer.

Re:just starting.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162420)

Have you EVER seen a research report that didn't end with "and more research is needed"? Meaning "Pass the money, please."

Re:just starting.... (5, Interesting)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163050)

When I worked in a research lab, another methodology used was to use this year's funding to pay for the research for which funding had not been requested yet, to assure that the results of THAT were likely to be confirmed. Then, once they were pretty confident that the research would pan out, they could apply for the grant to do the research. This way they always had successful research, and a continuous stream of grants. The continuously successful labs all worked this way to my knowledge. If they applied for a grant to do 'X', you could be 90% sure that they had already proved that 'X' would work, and probably had already been done. This might have been less true for 'pure' research as opposed to applied research.

Of course at the big Uni's the Uni took 50% to 60% off the top to cover operational expenses, so every grant application had to include a justification for double the amount of money actually needed (since the grants rarely paid for operational expenses), hidden in the cost structure.

And you thought corporations and government agencies were the only ones doing shenanigans. Ask anyone who is likely to know at Stanford, CMU, MIT, etc.

Re:just starting.... (1)

f()rK()_Bomb (612162) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163834)

I'd argue that US universities are actually effectively corporations looking at how they run anyway. I dont think anyone thought the uni's weren't as bad as the gov or corps. Just looking at the ridiculous fees make that obvious.

Impossible! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161822)

All that electricity they want to "store" comes from COAL so this sucks! Idiots! This is why all government funding to idiot-factories like MIT needs to be CUT IMMEDIATELY.

Re:Impossible! (4, Insightful)

sadness203 (1539377) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161846)

Obvious troll, but still. Not every country rely on coal/gas to generate its electricity.
And better battery technology might help to store energies produced by other means, like solar or wind.

Re:Impossible! Really ? can you name 1 ? (4, Informative)

Crashmarik (635988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162260)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electricity_generation#List_of_countries_with_Source_of_Electricity_2008 [wikipedia.org]

Because this chart in the wiki doesn't have any that aren't getting power from coal, gas, or nuclear.

Re:Impossible! Really ? can you name 1 ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162984)

Bhutan - 99.9% hydro power (2001), I heard the current figure is 99.6%. And they also export to India. The remainder of Bhutan's generation is currently diesel - not coal, gas, or nuclear - but they are considering adding some wind generation which could reduce that.

But what you should be looking for is a pathway to less dependence on fossil fuels. Renewables with efficient storage have to be part of that pathway. Less ill-informed defeatism is also necessary.

Re:Impossible! Really ? can you name 1 ? (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163294)

Bhutan also has 1/20th the energy consumption PER CAPITA and 1/500th the population. It is also has a land area 1/200th of the US.

In other words, thats great for Bhutan, good luck scaling it to 10,000 times the energy consumption over a 200x larger land mass.

Incidentally, this [sari-energy.org] (warning, PDF) indicates that you are incorrect-- it seems to say that a very large portion of the energy produced comes from firewood / biomass. This [asiatradehub.com] seems to indicate that their annual energy consumption is around 23,000 MW, and their hydro generation capacity is around 1,000 MW. So that really doesnt paint a good picture for hoping to scale hydro up to the US.

Re:Impossible! Really ? can you name 1 ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163640)

Bhutan does not use firewood/biomass for electricity generation. Check your own facts.

The rest of your post is just... pointless. Of course Bhutan isn't a model for the US. Why even suggest it?
Of course hydro power doesn't arbitrarily scale. It is dependent on the availability of the resource, and there aren't a whole lot of good hydro resources available on the planet that haven't already been exploited.

But it is true, as your post suggests, that Western society is hideously wasteful and we need to start doing things differently.
You don't put solar panels on a V8. You start by redesigning the car first. And then you can do 3000km averaging over 90km/h.

Re:Impossible! Really ? can you name 1 ? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38164002)

It might also help that Bhutan has 38 passenger cars per 1000 people [worldbank.org] .

You are right about lowering consumption, no arguments. My beef is with any attempt to compare first world countries with developing countries when it comes to energy consumption and generation.

Re:Impossible! Really ? can you name 1 ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38164062)

Yeah I agree on that too, and I didn't ever attempt to compare developing countries with first world countries. I only named Bhutan because of the parent post's challenge.

For developed countries - at the moment New Zealand is pretty hard to beat. I think they are around 75% renewables / 25% fossil fuels / no nukes.
If you're ok with nuclear, Switzerland looks pretty good - 53% hydro, 42% nuclear, 1.4% fossil fuels.

Note that all the stats I've mentioned are for electricity generation - so transport is not counted. Again, this is because I was responding to the parent post which linked to wiki article on electricity only.

Re:Impossible! (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162094)

All that electricity they want to "store" comes from COAL so this sucks! Idiots! This is why all government funding to idiot-factories like MIT needs to be CUT IMMEDIATELY.

Precisely. Even if you rolled out enough solar and wind power generation capacity to run the whole world, it would still only work while the sun was shining and/or the wind was blowing... you'd still need coal or nuclear or some other fuel burning source to generate power during the times when the wind isn't blowing and the sun isn't shining.

Unless you had some sort of everlasting battery to store the energy during the sunny or windy days to use during the dark still nights...

Re:Impossible! (1)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162264)

You would have much bigger problems to store energy from summer to last you through winter...

Re:Impossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162290)

It's dark outside RIGHT NOW, where's your "renewable energy" now, you fucking hippy freaks?

Re:Impossible! (1)

jamesh (87723) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162362)

I'm sure there are lots of places where you can't get enough sun or wind during winter to meet your energy requirements, but there are plenty of places where you can, and even if only 50% of the worlds energy needs could be met with zero emission electricity, we could stop worrying so much about CO2 emissions and peak oil for a little bit longer.

Re:Impossible! (1)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162576)

Somehow I don't see Europeans depending on Libya or Egypt for most of their energy needs... Nuclear is much more sensible choice: it's proven, you are independent in your energy needs (no problem to buy and store fuel for few years, let alone to last through winter, build a breeder reactor and you're set for a hundred years with the same amount), there are no problems with clouds blocking sun or winds blowing too little or too much, doesn't require large amounts of rare-earth metals to work (in case of PV) or is much cheaper (in case of thermal solar).

Re:Impossible! (5, Interesting)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163102)

About 10 years ago I did an analysis of the economics and related topics on a hypothetical large-scale solar project in the northern Sahara. It wasn't specific to Libya but today Libya is a good potential platform. If you build a 100- or 200-square mile solar farm, putting the solar panels about 20 feet or more above the ground (higher is better due to better breeze), two of the beneficial side effects are cooling the space underneath, and (closely related) shade. If you think about it, in that area shade is a significant resource!

This solar installation then provides a large area where greenhouses can be built, shaded (between 70% and 95%) by the solar panels, and partly roofed so it's relatively cheaper to complete the enclosure. this not only provides power but also creates a huge plant-growing area. The result - Libya could become the produce capital of the Mediterranean. Some of the power could be used to provide desalinization, and the greenhouses would minimize water loss so the impact on the Mediterranean could be minimized. So Libya can export power AND food, and hire thousands of farm workers to work in long term, skilled jobs, without any need for migration so they will have a stake in improving where they live. This is a very synergistic approach so the total cost of the system does not have to be amortized purely with power sales. And it could be expanded across hundreds or thousands of square miles of rock and sand.

The analysis also showed that such a large installation would have a significant effect on the weather patterns, increasing local rainfall similarly to how a forest tends to increase rainfall, thereby to some extent ameliorating the present tendency of the Sahara to expand itself. It's a very complicated system, and I did not do the detailed computer analysis necessary to really prove this hypothesis out, but it's certainly one worth exploring.

Re:Impossible! (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163112)

I neglected to mention that the greenhouse roofs could also be constructed as solar stills, also synergistically generating one resource (irrigation water) while reducing the total heat influx on the greenhouse interiors.

Re:Impossible! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163858)

Mod parent up. I have been dreaming the same dream, and I think it will come true.

That which allows current to pass easily... (1)

American Patent Guy (653432) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161834)

In electricity, that which allows current to flow easily (as the material does from the article) has a name ... it's called a "conductor." Maybe these batteries can be charged lots of times, but I'll bet they leak like sieves. I'll bet the won't hold a charge for very long.

Re:That which allows current to pass easily... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161848)

I don't know if Li-ion is similar to nickle base batteries, but a lot of the issues are with the paper separators.

Re:That which allows current to pass easily... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161866)

I wonder, do they have to hold it very long?

Lets say the batteries can hold their charge for about 24 hours, it would in many cases be pretty ideal, especially for solar energy. charges during the day, loses discharged during the night.
Even from sources that are less susceptible to day/night rotations, like water, the energy can be stored at night, when it is used less, and discharge during the day.

Even with some leaking, its better then having the energy go to waste.

Re:That which allows current to pass easily... (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162078)

Yeah, and when you are at a level of detail that you starts to count your charge carriers, the process you are used to call "conduction" starts to be called "diffusion". And saying that "diffusion is easy" is equivalent to say that "it is a good conductor". Anyway, that is a pretty rare property on things that absorb ions.

How long it holds charge, tough, is more associated to a property called "selectivity". And the article didn't mention it. It probably even couldn't because the ions/molecules being selected aren't known yet.

In other news... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38161870)

Company explains they have come up with an unlimited source of free clean energy with no negative drawbacks.... though the company admits it still needs to find the element that will allow it to be made.

Nothing special (5, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161872)

This is nothing new. Many battery technologies can last for decades. It's only the Cobalt based lithium ones that have the abysmal 2-3 year shelf-life.

Ni-Iron batteries have demonstrated more than 50 year life, with no noticeable degradation following deep discharge.
LiFePO has demonstrated less than 20% capacity loss over 15 years and many thousands of cycles.
Ni-Hydrogen has been in service without maintenance on satellites for many many years. The batteries on the Hubble went 19 years without servicing.
Lead-Acid requires a bit of servicing and maintenance, but they can also last more than a decade when properly cared for.

Now when it comes to energy storage to deal with renewables the problem is the shear amount of energy storage needed as well as energy lost to inefficiency. The technology exists, but the cost would be prohibitive.

Re:Nothing special (4, Informative)

Jartan (219704) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162044)

Now when it comes to energy storage to deal with renewables the problem is the shear amount of energy storage needed as well as energy lost to inefficiency. The technology exists, but the cost would be prohibitive.

RTFA and all that. The interesting thing about this is the electrolyte is supposedly cheap as hell. Thus the idea is making some long lasting batteries the size of a house on the cheap.

Re:Nothing special (2, Insightful)

Tomato42 (2416694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162246)

Battery charge and discharge has efficiency in the order of 60%. That's pathetic in electricity land. Pumped storage (making use of huge lakes) has efficiency in the area of 90%. Wasting the space for warehouses to store batteries is, err, let me say, "not smart".

Re:Nothing special (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162716)

Think solar cells that collect 2x what they need and you can use the battery bank at night... That sort of thing.

Or wind is variable...

That is where batteries and super caps come in to even out the load.

Problem is the tech exists (somewhat) but costs WAY more than burning oil or natural gas...

Re:Nothing special (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162826)

Pumped storage (making use of huge lakes) has efficiency in the area of 90%. Wasting the space for warehouses to store batteries is, err, let me say, "not smart".

Then why am I not hearing proposals to build giant cylinders of water on the coast/out on the water? During the day, you pump sea water into the giant column then let it out at night through the turbine. Is there a cost analysis that says anything like this is a good idea? It seems unintuitive.

I suppose you could build giant pipelines to natural inland lakes/rivers and stick a not-so Dam wall at the bottom just before the delta, during the day you pump water through the pipeline a long way upriver then shut off the pumps at night (solar) or low wind. Still sounds expensive, and less convenient since you can't put them where you actually need them (like batteries).

Re:Nothing special (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163122)

It's been done. I forget where, but here in the US there are at least two such systems used by power companies. They use excess power to pump the water to higher elevation lakes (such as the middle of the night), and use that water to generate electricity during peak periods (3PM on a hot day). It does require everything to be in the right places.

Off Peak metering (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163646)

It's the same cost analysis that makes off peak metering beneficial. Everyone should look into that if it's available to you. From my understanding, the energy companies pay their electric rates from the plants based on their peak load of the day. If they can even out the load so there is less of a spike it benefits their bottom line so they offer off peak metering. Around here that means any electricity used from 7pm to 7am, holidays, and weekends electricity is drastically reduced in cost. Peak usage is the same normal rate. It just takes a smart meter upgrade which is free. I've seen monthly costs drop by over 50%. The electric company doesn't advertise this so if it is offered it may take a few repeat calls to get it. Saying you're thinking about installing some electric hog like an electric oven, or electric baseboard heat seems to get them moving faster. I know even a local electric company VP hadn't heard of their own program . The family plumbing shop used to have a contract with the local electric company to install monster 120 gallon electric water heaters. They were designed to heat at night - off peak - and they were insulated so well they would retain their heat all day. The local power company stopped that after a number of years and went to more smart metered conventional heaters.

Re:Nothing special (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#38164040)

Then why am I not hearing proposals to build giant cylinders of water on the coast/out on the water? During the day, you pump sea water into the giant column then let it out at night through the turbine. Is there a cost analysis that says anything like this is a good idea? It seems unintuitive.

I suppose you could build giant pipelines to natural inland lakes/rivers and stick a not-so Dam wall at the bottom just before the delta, during the day you pump water through the pipeline a long way upriver then shut off the pumps at night (solar) or low wind. Still sounds expensive, and less convenient since you can't put them where you actually need them (like batteries).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_mountain [wikipedia.org]
Pumps water from Llyn Peris to Marchlyn Mawr during off-peak periods and then lets it flow back through turbines as required. Lots of advantages over traditional power stations - for example, so long as know a high demand period is coming up (and demand periods are quite rigorously planned), they pre-synchronise the generators and can go from 0 to 1800MW generating capacity in only 6 seconds. If the high demand isn't expected, they can synchronise and hit full capacity in 75 seconds.

Re:Nothing special (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162830)

Pumped storage (making use of huge lakes) has efficiency in the area of 90%

Bull Fucking Shit. The full load efficiency of a large electric motor isn't often over 92-95% on its own--a lot of that is lost in frictional losses to windage and bearings, you see, not forgetting losses through conductors and eddy currents. In other words: you're already dangerously close to your 90% threshold right in the motor. Then you have the frictional losses of a turbine to pump the water up, and friction head losses due to the plumbing itself.

Then once you get the water up to a lake: if it's an open body of water, you're going to have evaporation. That reduces the net efficiency all the same. Ok. Now that it's in the lake, we gotta do the reverse. More losses to friction in the plumbing and generator turbine, and to the generator itself, and then to any power conversion necessary down the line.

Even if you went to heroic efforts in turbine mechanics and used hydrogen cooled motors and generators to reduce loss to air friction, I'd bet net efficiency over 70% would be very, very difficult to achieve, even in the best and most optimistic scenario involving an open body of water.

Not to say that's a bad thing, but whether or not that would be useful is entirely dependent on the needs of the grid and the type of power supply on that grid. If you've got a nuclear station that needs to run at 90%+ 100% of the time (or whatever the case may be), hydro storage might make a lot of sense; use the surplus to store energy during the low demand times.

Re:Nothing special (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163132)

I just commented on the parent, but just so you know, there are at least two such systems in operation in the US. I forget where ... They use excess power (night time?) to pump water up to a lake, then use that water to generate power during peak demand.

Re:Nothing special (4, Informative)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 2 years ago | (#38164064)

Then once you get the water up to a lake: if it's an open body of water, you're going to have evaporation. That reduces the net efficiency all the same.

A tiny amount of evaporation.. so tiny it isn't really worth caring about. Also, if you're going to start calculating such minor things, rain will improve your efficiency a tiny amount.

Even if you went to heroic efforts in turbine mechanics and used hydrogen cooled motors and generators to reduce loss to air friction, I'd bet net efficiency over 70% would be very, very difficult to achieve, even in the best and most optimistic scenario involving an open body of water.

Dinorwig Power Station averages 74-75% efficiency with open bodies of water. (No where near the 90% that the grand parent suggested, but still better than what you claim would be optimistic).

Not to say that's a bad thing, but whether or not that would be useful is entirely dependent on the needs of the grid and the type of power supply on that grid. If you've got a nuclear station that needs to run at 90%+ 100% of the time (or whatever the case may be), hydro storage might make a lot of sense; use the surplus to store energy during the low demand times.

It makes sense just to cope with demand peaks. The aforementioned Dinorwig power station can hit peak capacity in 6 seconds if they have presynchronised the generators (75 seconds if not). There aren't many "traditional" power stations that can do that (I suspect even gas turbines would struggle to hit the 6 second mark).

Re:Nothing special (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163084)

except for the density issues http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

Re:Nothing special (4, Interesting)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163134)

You have that backwards. Batteries (at least high end lithium ion batteries) have an efficiency of about 90%, and pumped storage is about 70%. Good job.

Re:Nothing special - maybe it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163852)

The most intriguing application here is distributed storage with individual houses or groups of houses having local renewable generation with local storage using this battery technology to balance supply and demand. This removes the losses associated with power transmission / voltage conversion when transferring electricity from large centralised generation facilities (average about 7% in the U.S.). Maybe not as efficient as pump-storage, but if you can replace fossil-fuel generation with renewable generation then do efficiencies really matter that much ?

Re:Nothing special (1)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162104)

Thanks. Somebody mod parent up.

Utilities also won't want that new battery because it will be way more expensive than any molten salt design, and they can deal quite well with all limitations of molten salt batteries (like size, weight, and temperature).

Re:Nothing special (4, Insightful)

skids (119237) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162296)

There are three ways to rate battery life: "calendar life" (actual age deterioration), "shelf life" (how long it retains a charge), and "cycle life" (number of cycles of some depth that may be processed). While there are some chemistries with very high cycle life, this is higher than anything in production, save of course for ultra-capacitors. So yes, it is new.

Re:Nothing special (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162304)

The technology exists, but the cost would be prohibitive.

You know, I've heard this about solar as long as I can remember, but what the hell are the current numbers? And how do they stack up against the giant subsidies the fossil fuel industry gets? Solar doesn't need to produce the giant profits of oil to be viable, it just needs to get close to breaking even then rely on the welfare teet for the difference.

Re:Nothing special (1)

garyebickford (222422) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163138)

I just heard that solar has recently passed below the magic $1 per peak watt that has long been considered the point where it was really cost effective on a large scale.

Re:Nothing special (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163780)

Also Edison cells, common in fork lifts in the 50's-60's had a near infinite life span. Very low current density though.

Re:Nothing special (1)

Jukeman (1522147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163870)

Also Edison cells, common in fork lifts in the 50's-60's had a near infinite life span. Very low current density though.

I guess it was included didn't know Edison Cell was also nickel-iron cell.

make it energizer bunny size (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161886)

where has he been any ways?

Re:make it energizer bunny size (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162250)

where has he been any ways?

Going and going... and gone.

Revised article (4, Funny)

IceFoot (256699) | more than 2 years ago | (#38161984)

Researchers at Stanford University have invented ONE HALF OF A BATTERY....

Everlasting but.. (1)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162068)

It is to be commercially released in an infinite number of years from now, for an infinite price per unit.

Meanwhile manufacturers of consumer electronics can continue using 90's Li-Ion technology that has the huge advantage of dieing after a couple of years keeping the upgrade cycle going

What? (2)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162172)

>The only problem is, a high-voltage cathode (-) requires a very low-voltage anode (+)

I know technology has been moving fast, but have they repeated Kirchhoff's laws now?

Re:What? (2)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162182)

"Repealed", not "repeated". Sorry.

Re:What? (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162672)

The electrochemical redox reaction between the two is what completes the circuit. Don't worry, the loop integral of voltage is still zero.

Nice to see science fiction become reality (1)

Bonteaux-le-Kun (1360207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162358)

Anyone remember the Shipstones from Heinlein's "Friday"?

It does not matter what the research is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38162524)

Because, a long-lasting battery will not make it to retail due to planned obsolescence.

Nothing personal, it is just business as usual.

It happened with nylon, light bulbs and inkjet printers.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5DCwN28y8o

400,000 cycles is NOT "everlasting." (5, Interesting)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162844)

Can we please try to use language accurately?

Re:400,000 cycles is NOT "everlasting." (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163154)

No. Do or do not. There is no try.

Re:400,000 cycles is NOT "everlasting." (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163446)

Perhaps they didn't mean it literally.

Re:400,000 cycles is NOT "everlasting." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38163492)

Hyperbole, while a valid mechanic in the written arts, is definitely a poor fit for a technical report.

(Btw I'm agreeing with Twinbee AND EmagGeek, just so there's no confusion.)

Re:400,000 cycles is NOT "everlasting." (2)

LongearedBat (1665481) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163504)

If you charge/discharge once per day, then it'll last for ~1000 years. From a practical standpoint, that's everlasting. It'll probably age to bits before the cycles run out, and it will probably be superceeded before it ages to bits.

Yeah, strictly speaking "everlasting" means "lasts forever". But nothing lasts forever, so it's an acceptable approximation.

Wonka Battery (1)

vaene (1981644) | more than 2 years ago | (#38162938)

Hopefully they can get started on the Gobstopper next.

wholesale NHL jersey (1)

jersey123456 (2485408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38163570)

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