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U.S. 5X Battery Research Sets Three Paths For Replacing Lithium

timothy posted about a year ago | from the jugs-that-hold-more-juice dept.

Power 172

dcblogs writes "One year ago this month, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $120 million plan to develop a technology capable of radically extending battery life. 'We want to change the game, basically,' said George Crabtree, a senior scientist at Argonne National Laboratory and a physics professor who is leading the effort. The goal is to develop a battery that can deliver five times the performance, measured in energy density, that's also five times cheaper, and do it in five years. They are looking at three research areas. Researchers are considering replacing the lithium with magnesium that has two charges, or aluminum, which has three charges. Another approach investigates replacing the intercalation step with a true chemical reaction. A third approach is the use of liquids to replace crystalline anodes and cathodes, which opens up more space for working ions."

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Awesome! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440103)

Year-old news, right here on Slashdot!

Re: Awesome! (5, Funny)

MickLinux (579158) | about a year ago | (#45440205)

Nonsense, this is bleeding edge. In a few weeks, they'll realize that they can use lead, with three charges. Then if they apply that liquid bath, say with a true chemical reaction.... ...hmm, I wonder if sulfuric acid could do the trick....
then they'll have a real, working battery that can compete with Lithium!!!

And you thought this was last year's news?!?

Re: Awesome! (4, Funny)

adolf (21054) | about a year ago | (#45440263)

You know, if they ever perfect those lead batteries, I think they'd also have the benefit of providing hydrogen as a waste product, which is AWESOME because then we can run our fuel cells with it!

It's win-win-win, baybee! Free energy is like money in the bank!

(Now pass me that crack pipe!)

Re: Awesome! (0)

rmdingler (1955220) | about a year ago | (#45440369)

You know, if they ever perfect those lead batteries, I think they'd also have the benefit of providing hydrogen as a waste product, which is AWESOME because then we can run our fuel cells with it!

This, Cuz thermodynamic laws are made to be broken.

It's win-win-win, baybee! Free energy is like money in the bank!

Tesla got branded crackpot by Edison for similar claims.

(Now pass me that crack pipe!)

No dawg, it's still not your turn.

Re: Awesome! (-1, Offtopic)

adolf (21054) | about a year ago | (#45440385)

Aww you fucking BOGART!

That's the last time I let you party with my girlfriend, you stingy fucking bogart!

Re: Awesome! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440411)

(Now pass me that crack pipe!)

If that isn't a excuse to say "nigger" I couldnt tell you what is!

Re: Awesome! (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | about a year ago | (#45440687)

What do you think this is Toronto ? And your hanging with Mr. Mayor ?

Re: Awesome! (4, Funny)

bug1 (96678) | about a year ago | (#45440391)

Are you CRAZY... You cant put acid in consumer controlled devices.

Sulfiric acid can cause severe burns, imagine what would happen if there where industrial or transport accidents and it leaked on people, and what if people take the acid out and thrown in people faces...

No way would the government let people have control of such powerful chemistry, well at least without strict licensing and enforcment laws. You just cant trust society with this sort of technology, its just a matter of time till its used by the terrrist.

Im going to start writting letters straight away about this !!!

Re: Awesome! (-1, Flamebait)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about a year ago | (#45440615)

its just a matter of time till its used by the terrrist.

Or a Southerner.

Re: Awesome! (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#45441093)

"Or a Southerner."

I'm one of them damn yankee northerners, and I got my redneck license, too.

Runnin' south on Lake Shore Drive: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#45441071)

"Are you CRAZY... You cant put acid in consumer controlled devices."

Yeah. Who knows how much excess reality it'd end up consuming.

Re: Awesome! (3, Funny)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | about a year ago | (#45440663)

Sure - but what can you do with a battery? I mean, my horse doesn't need one, the buggywhip works fine! Now get out of my freshly plowed field, you youthful rapscallion...

Re: Awesome! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441771)

We all know darn well your field ain't actually been plought yet, you feckless palliard.

Carbon Nanotubes (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440107)

What about Carbon nanotube Super Capacitors? MIT Nanotube Super Capacitor [peswiki.com]

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (1, Funny)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | about a year ago | (#45440121)

Yes, Carbon is even better because it has FOUR charges!

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440135)

Screw it all, we're doing five charges. How does it work? Shut up I'm telling you how it works.

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about a year ago | (#45440555)

Well we can't just sit around with our cocks in our hands.

They don't tell me what to invent... I tell them.

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (1)

BosstonesOwn (794949) | about a year ago | (#45440705)

Single Charge Cumming soon ?

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440737)

Well we can't just sit around with our cocks in our hands.

Speak for yourself *fap* *fap* *fap*

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (2)

noobermin (1950642) | about a year ago | (#45440193)

I know, we should just ionize lead until it is a nucleus, then we'll have 82 charges! These guys aren't thinking big enough.

Re: Carbon Nanotubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440351)

When it gets to 88, you're going to see some serious shit.

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (2)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#45440355)

Why aren't we just dumping batteries altogether and going straight to small portable nuclear reactors. Long lasting, and you can just toss em in a deep hole or the middle of the ocean when they are spent.

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440725)

That's hard. How about this: We just take something like a hundred ions with a charge of one or two each, then put them all together in a box. Atoms are really small, so the difference in space between your lead nucleus and my box of K+ is negligible, and I have a dozen or so charges more than you!

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (4, Interesting)

rtb61 (674572) | about a year ago | (#45441377)

Nature has always gone with calcium as the most energy efficient electrical energy medium, a deeper look there especially in nano structures would also be worthwhile.

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440217)

Not enough, they're looking for one that goes to eleven!

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440819)

Just one word about the PesWiki site... they have a history of hosting a lot of fringe technologies which borders ( and sometimes blatantly tromps on ) the territory of technical con artists...

They hosted a lot of the Rossi's E-CAT stuff.

Incidentally, I have not heard much about the ECAT lately, despite the fact it was "going into production" with deliverables promised toward the end of 2011/ early 2012. Did it dry up along with the pool of hopeful investors who let their faith in marketing overwhelm their knowledge of physics? If there is one common meme I am seeing repeated over and over again, its when the invent-head won't demonstrate in front of people skilled in the technology, someone's fixing to lose their investment - most likely monied types whose ego is more developed than their science skill.

Another Steorn experience?

Re:Carbon Nanotubes (1)

necro81 (917438) | about a year ago | (#45440987)

Somewhere, someone can make a joke about razor blades in here.

inspiration [theonion.com]

Yay lithium! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440159)

More for me!

My VISA battery (1)

PortHaven (242123) | about a year ago | (#45440171)

Has....well way the !@#$% too many charges. :-P

SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (3)

lesincompetent (2836253) | about a year ago | (#45440179)

Magnesium?
Who doesn't like a 3,100 C fire in his pants!

Re:SubjectsInCommentsAreStupid (2)

blagooly (897225) | about a year ago | (#45441857)

For folks unfamiliar with magnesium fire, check out Roger Williamson, Dutch Grand Prix 1973. The video is difficult to watch. Trapped, the fire starts slowly. Drivers pass by, just like these scientists future LA Freeway. David Purley stopped, tried to help. As the fire becomes more involved, his actions, movement, desperation and final obvious despair make this an unforgettable moment.

Liquid anode/cathode? (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about a year ago | (#45440265)

How am I going to connect the battery cables to it? /snark

Re:Liquid anode/cathode? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440431)

Snarks with lasers!

Re:Liquid anode/cathode? (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about a year ago | (#45441309)

Boojum!

Re:Liquid anode/cathode? (1)

Tough Love (215404) | about a year ago | (#45440813)

How am I going to connect the battery cables to it?

Liquid metal.

AND 25 TIMES MORE DANGEROUS !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440293)

Do not do it !! It is an NSA TRICK !!

2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440303)

Basic arithmetic isn't hard - Take the cycle life - multiply it by the Wh capacity - you now have the total amount you will get out of the battery.

Now take the capacity and divide by the cost - is it less than gasoline? Nope - and we assumed that the cost to charge is zero.

Now we can also take the amount of false pride people have in owning so-called green cars - and see that there is a market place for peoples ego trips based on faulty logic.

We have people using more fuel (due to conversion losses) and moving pollution to other places and they think they are earth gods..

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440459)

OK, Lets use an Enerdel 12s block. 3000 cycles by 1300 watt-hours gets us 3.9 million watt-hour-cycles.

The cost is $711. So 3.9 million w-hr-cycles / $711 is 5485 w-hr-cycles per dollar. What is the w-hr-cycles of gasoline again?

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (5, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#45440583)

OK, Lets use an Enerdel 12s block. 3000 cycles by 1300 watt-hours gets us 3.9 million watt-hour-cycles.

The cost is $711. So 3.9 million w-hr-cycles / $711 is 5485 w-hr-cycles per dollar. What is the w-hr-cycles of gasoline again?

That's an interesting question:

Gasoline gives us only one cycle.

$ units
You have: (114000 btu / gal) / (3$ / gal)
You want: W hr / $
                * 11136.701

Sounds bad... but car engines are only about 20% efficient and electric cars are more like 80% efficient.

If we normalize that way, the gas car is 2227, and the batteries are 4388.

Looks like the batteries win, even with current temporary lull in gas prices.

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (0)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about a year ago | (#45441077)

Car engines are better than 20%, but that point aside...

The power from the wall to recharge over and over isn't free, the car costs more to buy, and when it runs out of juice, you're stuck.

You won't get many takers until you fix all those issues.

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year ago | (#45441369)

Car engines may be more than 20% efficient in the best case, but in real world operation including idle and jack rabbit starts, probably not. That's why they introduced hybrids: you pay extra for some batteries in order to keep the engine closer to its theoretical maximum efficiency.

IIRC, the electricity to power a car is well under half the cost of gas per mile, especially if you meter it at off-peak hours. So it would still come out ahead. The car costs more to buy mainly because of the batteries, which is the cost that we were analyzing in the first place.

The limited range is probably the main show stopper for electric cars right now.

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441119)

Can you re-do that calculation and include the dollar cost of the electricity, since you included the dollar cost of the gasoline? :P

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (2)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#45441257)

1.3KWh * $0.12/KWh * 3000 cycles= $468

468+711 = 1179 cost. 3.9E6/1179 = 3307. 3307*0.8 = 2643 vs gasoline's 2227, so electric still wins.

Or w/ California electric costs the figure for EV is 2270 so even at their electricity prices EV squeeks past gasoline. (though their gas may be more than $3/gal)

This is, of course, before you account for the externalities of pollution.

Re: 2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441357)

Externalities? Naw, bro! Free market will totes fix those.

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441495)

>temporary lull

Buy gas now, you can make a killing later!

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (2)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#45440471)

Depends on where you live. In Phoenix we're powered by hydro and nuclear, and even have enough electricity to spare that we sell to California who has a shortage. Ironically we're also probably the last place you'd look for hippies or "greenies". I think the main thing is that we just don't have NIMBY syndrome (meanwhile the federal government seems content that we be the kidnapping capital of the world because they won't allow us to take the border situation under control because it bothers the hippies, who themselves would never allow a nuclear plant anywhere near them.)

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (1)

turp182 (1020263) | about a year ago | (#45440895)

NIMBY isn't associated with the hydro, which is far from Phoenix in terms of production.

Further, the nuclear plant (largest in the US, a sight to see) is 45 miles west of Phoenix (a bad location to be honest, north and east of the city would have been safer given prevailing winds).

Did you know it's cooled by sewage (I didn't until a moment ago via Wikipedia):
The Palo Verde Nuclear Power Plant is located in the Arizona desert, and is the only large nuclear power plant in the world that is not located near a large body of water. The power plant evaporates the water from the treated sewage from several nearby cities and towns to provide the cooling of the steam that it produces, as dictated by the laws of thermodynamics.

I love the comment about thermodynamics laws, and I wonder where the dried up sewage goes.

Link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palo_Verde_Nuclear_Generating_Station [wikipedia.org]

There's a lot of NIMBY north of Phoenix (Scottsdale, Cave Creek), try installing solar in a neighborhood (obviously if you have acreage no one will care). HOAs are terrible in the Phoenix area. Been there, done that.

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (1)

Firethorn (177587) | about a year ago | (#45441129)

I love the comment about thermodynamics laws, and I wonder where the dried up sewage goes.

I'd probably feed it into industry - a mix of producing fertilizer and incinerating it(done right it can generate more power).

It's more likely that it works a bit like standard desalination where you only remove SOME of the water, discharging the now higher-salinity water back into the ocean(or in this case more poopy sewage).

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (1)

Applehu Akbar (2968043) | about a year ago | (#45441193)

The nuke is surrounded by hundreds of square miles of cotton fields. That's where the dried-up sewage goes.

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441299)

then the cotton gets turned into toilet paper?

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (4, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | about a year ago | (#45440789)

In part, you are right. Batteries have to be competitive with traditional fuels. While some people may want EVs for "green" reasons that only they can understand, they do not represent any significant part of the market. I bought my car (Prius) not because I wanted to save the planet, but simply because I needed a new car, and Prius was a very good choice in many aspects - comfort (CVT rules!) and mieage, and reliability, and price, and cargo space, and passenger seats, and cost of service. Saving the planet? Not on my salary. Let Al Gore do that on his.

But moving pollution elsewhere, in itself, is not such a bad idea. First of all, even if the volume of pollution is unchanged, moving it away from cities helps already. However large power stations are more efficient, such as they produce less pollution per kWh of energy, compared to a car. It remains to be seen what effect the transmission losses have; but the losses are present in both cases; an ICE is not very efficient, and it is largely heating the Universe. At the same time, charging of an EV is not a lossless process either, and the batteries do not last forever - they contain polluting chemicals, and they need energy to be produced and recycled.

Remote power stations have yet another advantage - they can use cheaper or cleaner fuels. Coal is cheaper, and is plentiful. Sunlight, hydro, wind, geothermal, tide, etc. are cleaner. Those are options that you can exercise. You have no such options with gas-powered cars; they only can run on oil products by definition - and supply of oil is, apparently, limited.

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (2)

swillden (191260) | about a year ago | (#45441395)

I bought my car (Prius) not because I wanted to save the planet, but simply because I needed a new car, and Prius was a very good choice in many aspects - comfort (CVT rules!) and mieage, and reliability, and price, and cargo space, and passenger seats, and cost of service.

I bought my car (pure EV Nissan LEAF) for similar reasons. I needed a new car, I liked the LEAF, and it was cheaper than any new hybrid or ICE vehicle I compared it to, and I compared a lot of them. Yeah, the LEAF costs more up front, but I estimated that, given my driving patterns, I'd break even in just under six years due to the much lower fuel cost -- and that's without considering tax credits. With the tax credits (which which I disagree philosophically, but that's not going to stop me from reducing my tax liability in any way I legally can), the break-even point was just over two years. And I didn't even consider the much lower maintenance costs (the LEAF's maintenance schedule is hilarious... basically you rotate the tires every 7500 miles, and every 15000 miles you have someone look it over to make sure nothing is wearing or breaking).

Of course, the EV isn't usable for road trips, and there are a number of other limitations. But that's okay because I need more than one vehicle anyway. It does a great job in the role it fills, and it's cheap to own and fun to drive.

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440823)

OK, lets try the math:

Battery:
(1 kWh/ $500) * 1000 cycles / (300 Wh/mi) = 6.67 mi / $

Gasoline:
(1 gallon / $3.50) * (30 miles / gallon) = 8.57 mi / $

There seems to be lots of uncertainty on battery cost. Several car makers say their packs are under $500 / kWh (One article said Elon Musk expects sub-$200 "soon"). The Tesla Model S 60 kWh battery is warranted for 125k miles, which would seem to be at least 625 cycles is expected.

This certainly seems to me like it is within a factor of 2 of gasoline. A 5x change like talked about in this article would make gasoline not at all competitive.

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (1)

pngai (561529) | about a year ago | (#45441691)

Did you include the cost of electricity?

Re:2x Lithium battery and cars still don't work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441793)

Oil changes are free all of a sudden?

Scientific Breakthrough (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440313)

As everybody knows, every major scientific breakthrough came through government funded research groups setting ambitious goals and a time frame.

You can't replace Einstein with 100 scientists.

Re:Scientific Breakthrough (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440361)

Yeah, like the internet, space rockets and satellites, radar, jet engines,nuclear energy, they all came entirely from free enterprise. And I bet you think Ayn Rand is the greatest thinker of all time.

Re:Scientific Breakthrough (2, Funny)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | about a year ago | (#45440491)

I think we should call it Obamabattery and have IRS fine anybody who doesn't use it.

Re:Scientific Breakthrough (2)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about a year ago | (#45441091)

I think we should call it Obamabattery and have IRS fine anybody who doesn't use it.

"If you like your current battery, you can keep your current battery!"

Re:Scientific Breakthrough (1)

x0ra (1249540) | about a year ago | (#45441217)

Of course not... the EPA would have stepped in and prohibited use of your current battery.

Re:Scientific Breakthrough (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about a year ago | (#45441421)

I think we should call it Obamabattery and have IRS fine anybody who doesn't use it $5 less than the companies charge and end up getting the same thing if we need to go to the store to get one.

fixed that for you

Re:Scientific Breakthrough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440827)

it's a valid point the military industrial complex has pushed a lot of development in the past (half of which came from defeated germany). However now days it's arguable the consumer market is more of a driving force now, look where we have taken computers, batteries, screens, cars, even if the intial invention was to kill people. What is worth more now, Google or Northrop Grumman.

Re:Scientific Breakthrough (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440919)

But we're making remarkable progress at destroying our consumer base. The new development driver is going to have to be toys for rich boys, (and girls, I guess) since they're going to be the only ones left with any money.

Re: Scientific Breakthrough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440483)

Space program, child. You would b typing morse code like your grndpa if it weren't for that 60's gov program. Ditto spread spectrum. Don't be so quick to condemn gov unless you know what ORNL, Sandia, and NASA do. Ingrate.

Re:Scientific Breakthrough (1)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about a year ago | (#45441083)

You can't replace Einstein with 100 scientists.

Hmm, there is a joke about monkeys and typewriters in there somewhere, just can't quite put my fingers on it...

I'll be impressed when (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440383)

I'll be impressed when it is a product rolling off of a production line, until then its money down the drain.

Another Boondoggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440419)

This is another Solyndra. Check back issues of Technology Review. There have been announcements of "breadthroughs" or promising research in new, higher capacity batteries for decades, ready to go into mass production just as soon as they solve a few technical details. All those new battery technologies can now be found somewhere in oblivion, and not on a store shelf; that last, minor technical detail turned out to be a lot tougher, or a lot more expensive than the developers admitted. Its just fine for venture capitalists to throw money down a rathole, it's their money after all, but DOE is throwing our taxes to the current administration's big contributors. A lot of it will end up in politicians' pockets after the companies mysteriously go "bankrupt." And there won't be any new batteries.

Re:Another Boondoggle (2)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about a year ago | (#45440541)

"breadthroughs"

Is that the little basket with buns wrapped in a towel you get in good restaurants?

Re:Another Boondoggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441475)

You forgot that the solar companies were hacked by China, then six months later, solar panels were arriving on US shores cheaper than the rare earths used in them would cost. Congress did nothing about it until Solyndra and other solar companies were shut down.

In the past this same thing happened... and Congress stepped in. Look at Harley for an example. However, Congress considers H-D more valuable to national security than solar.

If the same fate happens to the battery maker, it isn't all bad. It means that we will get energy dense batteries on our shores, imported, but still usable.

Liquid batteries (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | about a year ago | (#45440423)

Another liquid battery concept for grid storage was mentioned here: http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/511081/ambris-better-grid-battery/ [technologyreview.com]

Re:Liquid batteries (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#45441159)

You beat me to it, mdsolar. Ambri has some very interesting ideas.

I don't know if the engineering problems will be worked out well enough for it to make it big. They've changed some of the chemistry from the original idea and I'm not sure what they're using now. Hopefully it'll live up to the promise when they start fielding the full up prototypes next year or so.

Regardless of what sort of power source is feeding a grid, large fast responding battery storage would be extremely useful.

I'm a big fan of Don Sadoway (The MIT professor whose group did the research leading to it.). His Solid State Chemistry class (3.091) on open courseware is excellent.

lithium batteries are good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440533)

For electric cars, lithium batteries are good enough. Lithium ion batteries were first done in the lab in the 70s. Sony brought lithium ion to market in the early 90s. Lithium ion batteries have dominated consumer electronics, where energy density is important, price and longevity are less so. Lithium battery based cars started showing up in 2008. There are several cathodes and a few anodes for lithium batteries. Longevity has been increased, and cheaper cathodes have been devised, getting the price down to ~$300 kwh. Other, experimental battery chemicals have been tried, and lacked the success of lithium ion. Lithium metal battery hasn't worked. The well researched sodium sulfur battery, and its successor, the Zebra battery, did not live up to promises. Rechargable air batteries have yet to reach the market. Fuel cells are a very niche product right now. It will be difficult to find the chemistry superior to lithium, so get used to lithium for the next decade or two.

Re:lithium batteries are good enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440743)

Except for the issue that they have a relatively short life span (6 years max), the are expensive (a batterypack for a car probably costs ~$7K even under optimal market conditions) and they require an element with questionable production growth potential.

Re:lithium batteries are good enough (1)

x0ra (1249540) | about a year ago | (#45441233)

The problem is that as gas, lithium is a finite, and pretty rare resource... unless you create a fusion reactor which *produce* energy, in which case you may hope to walk up the element ladder and actually produce that lithium...

Firs7 Post! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440665)

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fantastic... but... (1)

Gravis Zero (934156) | about a year ago | (#45440681)

how does the heat dissipation compare to said to-be-replaced lithium batteries?

all the same, it's good to see progress in the energy storage field.

Re:fantastic... but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441001)

Whoa! Hold on their cowboy.

Nobody said they were making progress in the energy storage field. They 'want' to make progress, but so far that's as far as they've gotten.

Re:fantastic... but... (1)

Teancum (67324) | about a year ago | (#45441503)

Heat dissipation isn't the only issue to worry about. Lithium batteries (of multiple chemistries) certainly don't last the same length of time that the batteries built for the Baker Electric automobiles were able to get away with. Heck, even after a century of usage those old Baker batteries can still be used with only a minor refurbishing of the connectors and making sure you fill up each cell with water before you decide to charge it up. I dare any Lithium battery manufacturer to make that claim.

I anticipate that this next generation of batteries might have 5x the charge density as the Lithium batteries, but will only have a lifetime of six months before they need to be replaced and have potentially other significant performance issues. Perhaps that is long enough for most people?

Global Warming (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about a year ago | (#45440841)

This is the type of stuff the governments all over the world should be doing to combat global warming if they actually thought it was real and a threat instead of using it as an excuse to raise taxes.

Now if we could just get them to extend this into other areas like internal combustion engines being more efficient while not tripling their costs or maybe even a drop in replacement for a standard ICE motor in existing vehicles as well as industrial processes and such and I don't think most people who think global warming is a crock would object so strongly.

Maybe moving this to areas other then just batteries is what the economy needs.

This tune sounds familiar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440853)

Hey didn't they promise us this ten years ago? (It's always ten years away)

How about you fuckwits just shoot for a 5% improvement on cost, storage, life, AND deliver it in 5 years. Come up with that and well talk about maybe paying you. You thought you were going to get the money first? Silly gov't leach.

German battery vunding iz superior (4, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about a year ago | (#45440891)

The Germans are spending tens of Billions getting batteries into homes to smooth out solar power. Their idea is simple; by encouraging people to actually buy the stuff it will create a market and get the companies moving on research and development. I am willing to bet that 90% of the American money will go to a select group of companies and universities that lobbied hard for that money. Then over the next few years we will read in Popular Science and here on Slashdot about "BATTERY BREAKTHROUGH! New battery tech is 100x better and 100x cheaper!!!" but when you read the article it will be a pile of hype over a test-tube battery that is the size of a postage stamp that can barely power an LED and requires 3 hours of CERN LHC time to make.

The real (boring) article will be about a German factory employing 8,000 people that is selling 3 billion in home batteries per year that work quite well and provide good value to their customers.

Re:German battery vunding iz superior (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45440979)

Any examples of similar developments in the past you would care to share?

Re:German battery vunding iz superior (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about a year ago | (#45441625)

If the Germans build new battery tech, then all the world benefits.
If the Americans build new batter tech, then all the world benefits.

No reason to disparage scientific research just because someone else is doing it differently.

Sure there is! (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about a year ago | (#45441675)

This is Slashdot, where it is trendy to hate on anything America does. Also there's the risk that the DoE might succeed (the DoE has some top research labs, Ames, Argonne, Fermi, Livermore, Los Alamos, NREL, Oak Ridge, Sandia, to name a few). In this case Argonne is leading the battery project, working with Berkley, PNNL, Sandia, and SLAC. There are also some public universities participating as well. So gotta get that hate in now!

As you say, the reality is that all this battery research is beneficial. Doesn't matter where it is developed, it'll be sold to the world. Nobody is going to drop millions or billions in the tech and say "Ya, that was neat, no reason to sell it though!"

they could cut research time dowwn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441031)

if they hire somebody that knows chemistry.
you ignorant fucks.

5 years ? (1)

x0ra (1249540) | about a year ago | (#45441185)

It sounds awfully like the Soviet "quinquennial" plans :-/

Why are taxpayers funding this research? (1)

Joshua Fan (1733100) | about a year ago | (#45441223)

Aren't the commercial implications of such an advancement enticing enough to make the private sector throw many more millions, if not billions, into this research, if they haven't done so already? Granted, they would only allow new batteries to come to market if they lasted for fewer charge cycles.

Re:Why are taxpayers funding this research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441267)

Because the use of fossil fuel to provide energy and the waste of energy by having no true mean to store it efficiently is a society problem. Also don't forget that in a very privatized economic system like the US, it is the private sector that fuel the economy of the country.

Re:Why are taxpayers funding this research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441281)

Batteries... you know the shorter they last, the more you'll sell.

Re:Why are taxpayers funding this research? (1)

Powercntrl (458442) | about a year ago | (#45441497)

Sure, the R&D payoff could be worth a fortune - but why bother when you can stick today's batteries in a fancy package [teslamotors.com] and milk the rich now? Investors generally want a clear path towards profit and a business plan of "our scientists will dick around until they make a breakthrough at some indeterminate point in the future" doesn't inspire much confidence.

Re:Why are taxpayers funding this research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441601)

Batteries are important to national security, so having the government offer incentive for better energy density is a no brainer:

1: Denser batteries allow solar and wind to be usable 24/7. It turns a peak energy source into a main one, both for off-grid use and on-grid (if used as a glorified UPS.)

2: If one gets batteries within an order of magnitude of gasoline for energy density, this would fundamentally change transportation as we know it. Out goes the Otto cycle engines that spit a good chunk of energy out the exhaust pipe, replaced by electric motors.

3: Electric vehicles provide interesting add-ons to the grid. If peak power is needed, the grid could draw on the batteries from the electric vehicles (to a reasonable amount like 80-85% SOC.)

Of course, as an RV-er, it would mean no loud generator needed when camping in the backwoods.

Re:Why are taxpayers funding this research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441631)

Don't worry, a few select companies will be allowed to take over once it's profitable.

Re:Why are taxpayers funding this research? (1)

x0ra (1249540) | about a year ago | (#45441641)

if it ever is...

Need more robust batteries (1)

trasgu (603018) | about a year ago | (#45441271)

The headlines seem to always point to more power/weight or power density. No one seems to be concerned with robustness. Mobile power systems operate in a harsh environment... Extreme temperature ranges, Extreme vibration, contamination (from water, salts, abrasive sands, etc). I would like to see more effort towards versatile and survivable power systems over more "power vs weight" speculation.

trasgu

I don't want denser (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45441441)

What I am seeking is a long-lasting low loss storage.

The long lasting appears to be Nickel-Iron [opensourceecology.org] but it is expensive and lossy.

The low loss high energy option was supposed to be EESTOR but perhaps they are in the same isle as the flying cars.

All-liquid is worthy. (1)

Mal-2 (675116) | about a year ago | (#45441479)

An all-liquid formulation is probably the most worthy of these goals, for increasing energy density still further without losing the seriously impressive power density and charge rate of LFP batteries [wikipedia.org] . The voltage will also be a factor in some devices -- already many devices can be powered by single cells, simplifying charge circuits (no need for balancing or detecting a failing cell) and possibly improving reliability (since one failed cell = a dead pack).

Tough goals, especially in 5 years (5, Interesting)

Jack Malmostoso (899729) | about a year ago | (#45441629)

I am a battery scientist, and while I think that Argonne is one of the places where great work is done, they have set very ambitious goals for themselves.

1) Replacing Li with Mg is a lovely idea, but currently there is no fully stable electrolyte and as far as I know nobody has good candidates for electrode materials. Don't even get me started on Al.

2) Lithium-air batteries have been debated to death also here on /.. The current status is again that there seems to be no stable electrolyte, no clear idea of what exactly happens, and if we factor in the weight and complexity of adding various components to the battery assembly to make a real device out of it, the great theoretical energy density of Li-O2 is reduced to Li-ion levels, if not even less.

3) The liquid slurry electrode is an interesting concept which at least recycles materials that are available and known to be working. This is more of an engineering problem than a scientific one, and could see quick advancement in 5 years.

I hope the community as a whole will be able to find the breakthrough to finally have people stop cursing batteries.
Batteries: you hate them since 150 years!

Re:Tough goals, especially in 5 years (1)

Z00L00K (682162) | about a year ago | (#45441835)

So in the end we end up with batteries that are 25 times as explosive too?

In my opinion batteries sucks as energy storage for heavy loads like cars. Using capacitor banks to manage start/stop in city traffic and uphill/downhill is another thing.

Room temperature liquids that mix with air to get combustion are easier to manage - contain them if they start to burn and it will stop. Contain a runaway battery and it just accelerates. What we should look at is cheaper processes to produce liquid fuels that are as good as the fossil fuels but from recyclable materials and waste material. A large scale multipurpose processing plant with high capacity is probably the most effective way to do this. Located close to a city any excess heat should be possible to use for central heating.

A 5 year plan... where have I heard that before? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about a year ago | (#45441813)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five-Year_Plans_for_the_National_Economy_of_the_Soviet_Union [wikipedia.org]

Just saying... :D

It would be great if this worked. I just fear that the government might kill some of this technology instead of helping it along.

There are various ways they can do this unintentionally.

1. Take all the profit out of dominating the market removes most of the profit incentive to developing new technologies. If the government just owns this thing or gives it away then the factories that tool up to build it might not be able to recuperate capital expenses to produce the tech because they won't be able to initially charge higher prices.

2. Possibly they'll put all sorts of regulations on the production, pricing, distribution, or installation of these batteries resulting in them being effectively expensive because of regulatory overhead. There are many instances of the government doing this both intentionally and unintentionally. They kind of do it to anything they pay any attention to by default. Given that they are paying attention to this thing... it worries me. I just suspect these batteries might come with forms that have to be filled out in triplicate and then snail mailed to 5 different PO boxes in Washington DC by the end of every fiscal year... or some other such nonsense.

3. They could also give manufacturing rights only to a few companies that are suspiciously campaign donors of whatever administration is currently in power while not permitting anyone else to produce the batteries. Later on it will be determined that the contractors chosen were not actually competent to produce them, cost over runs happened, quality was horrific, and the whole thing will go down in scandalous flames.... with no one getting anything useable out of it. AKA Solyndra.

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