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New Battery Tech From Japan Could Supercharge EVs

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the still-waiting-on-mr.-fusion dept.

Japan 81

joe5 writes "Many experts suggest that battery technology is really the key to the future of transportation. Its certainly the key to unlocking Tesla for even further growth. Today, a Japanese startup called Power Japan Plus unveiled a new battery chemistry that could significantly improve transportation batteries. In testing, the recycle-able cell has completed more than 3,000 charge/discharge cycles with virtually no performance degradation, meaning that it could conceivably last the lifetime of a car. They company won't yet provide too many details due to pending patents, and won't even say who its first customer is — but the chemistry requires 'specific and proprietary changes to the nanostructure of the carbon crystals.'"

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Haven't Seen The Video.... (-1, Redundant)

Frosty Piss (770223) | about 4 months ago | (#46996801)

I haven't seen the "promo" video, but I assume it involves an anime with three scantily clad hot teen Asian chicks, one of which is sporting a really enormous strap-on...

Re:Haven't Seen The Video.... (1)

InsultsByThePound (3603437) | about 4 months ago | (#46997215)

Everyone know most anime characters are white.

Obviously not for Tesla... (2, Funny)

Rick in China (2934527) | about 4 months ago | (#46996821)

We all know Ton..I mean, Elon, is bypassing traditional battery technology and finishing up work on his Arc Reactor. Must be for someone else - maybe Apple to tie into Beat headphones so they're not as crappy and overrated as they are now.

Re:Obviously not for Tesla... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46997005)

Wait, you thing being sold by apple will make beats less overrated?

Re:Obviously not for Tesla... (0)

Rick in China (2934527) | about 4 months ago | (#46997017)

No. I was implying that if Apple had some sort of super battery and acquired beats, they could marry the super battery into the headphones so they were no longer as overrated and crappy.

Re: Obviously not for Tesla... (1)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | about 4 months ago | (#46999697)

...but the battery isn't what makes Beats headphones crappy and overrated...

Re: Obviously not for Tesla... (1)

Rick in China (2934527) | about 3 months ago | (#47015861)

2 things: Obviously it was a joke. A product is the sum of it's components. By significantly improving one, whether the worst or best of the bunch, the product becomes, by definition, *less crappy*.

Re:Obviously not for Tesla... (2, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 4 months ago | (#46998921)

Considering the fact that Beats is a fashion brand (they certainly don't sell anything that lets you hear music), and Apple being a more popular fashion brand, Apple buying Beats does make Beats less overrated. Afterall, the only thing that gives any value to Beats --the branding-- has improved.

Eh, like the article says (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 4 months ago | (#46996837)

The company isn't holding back the hyperbole. Definitely front page news there.

Re:Eh, like the article says (4, Interesting)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#46998293)

"Might" and "Could" seem to be very common words in battery development headlines.

Let me know when it gets to production (if ever) (5, Interesting)

Spoke (6112) | about 4 months ago | (#46996863)

PR like this claiming the next breakthrough in batteries has been coming out for years, but what actually makes it to production are basically minor tweaks to existing chemistry.

Inevitably what happens is something keeps the technology from being mass produced, or is too expensive, or simply does not function as advertised.

I hope I'm wrong, but I'm not holding my breath.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

Xenna (37238) | about 4 months ago | (#46997013)

Right, too many future of battery stories but we're still stuck with the same old stuff.

Long lasting batteries are great but not as important as lower cost and higher capacity to weight ratio...

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (3, Insightful)

Spoke (6112) | about 4 months ago | (#46997119)

Long lasting batteries are great but not as important as lower cost and higher capacity to weight ratio...

Exactly. The energy density of these cells are very average at best.

It's nice that they last a long time as that makes them very useful for certain applications, but for EVs that's not the major issue preventing EVs from being more appealing. The major issue is energy density and cost.

Extreme durability might help with the cost aspect as batteries would hold more value for re-use after a car is otherwise useless, but it would be for other applications such as perhaps grid-storage where having batteries that basically last forever would be very useful.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (4, Insightful)

InsultsByThePound (3603437) | about 4 months ago | (#46997231)

I disagree. This helps EVs in two ways. Once, designers no longer will have to oversize battery packs in anticipation of degradation. (Primarily for series hybrids which will probably come out in combination with the 25 HP wave disk generator....) And as you said, resale value. But resale value is a huge thing, so don't understate it.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

Spoke (6112) | about 4 months ago | (#46998807)

That's a good point, it could help plug-in hybrids, or even regular hybrids.

But given that it's not very energy dense and other chemistries, what would you rather have? A battery that starts out with 25-50% more energy density and degrades 20-30% over the life of the car, or a battery that starts out with less but only loses a couple percent? I'd personally have the battery that starts out with more energy density even if at the end of life the density is similar.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46997341)

The energy density of these cells are very average at best.

The cells may be plural, but the energy density isn't.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (4, Insightful)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 months ago | (#46997505)

It's nice that they last a long time as that makes them very useful for certain applications, but for EVs that's not the major issue preventing EVs from being more appealing. The major issue is energy density and cost.

Except if batteries last basically forever, having "swapping stations" where a robot replaces your car battery with a fully loaded one becomes a lot more feasible, since you no longer need to worry about the difference in condition between the old and new battery. That, in turn, makes energy density less relevant, which allows smaller batteries, which brings down the costs. And low cost upfront combined with lower costs of operation combined with basically no maintenance needed makes for a very appealing vehicle for lower-income demographics, especially when these cars start appearing for sale used.

Why swapping stations don't exist (5, Insightful)

sjbe (173966) | about 4 months ago | (#46998719)

Except if batteries last basically forever, having "swapping stations" where a robot replaces your car battery with a fully loaded one becomes a lot more feasible, since you no longer need to worry about the difference in condition between the old and new battery.

That is NOT the major thing holding swapping stations back. To make swapping stations feasible you need a standardized power pack installed in a standardized way compatible with a battery pack swap. This standardization need to be agreed to by a substantial market share of electric vehicle manufacturers - enough to justify the enormous infrastructure costs involved in building out a network of swapping stations. Furthermore there need to be enough electric vehicles already on the road to justify the build out.

Frankly the durability of the battery packs is pretty far down the list of problems with swapping stations.

Re:Why swapping stations don't exist (1)

higuita (129722) | about 4 months ago | (#47001175)

No, the battery charge cycle is really the main problem!

everything is expensive when is new, old gas station where also expensive, but when demands grow, so will the deployment.

The problem is that batteries are EXPENSIVE and that price must be paid during the lifetime of the baterry. This makes the all process very expensive, the price of gas is for many people cheaper than having a "monthly" subscription to replace batteries on "gas" stations. This keep the sales and the demand low and everything will keep being expensive and rare.

With longer batteries, their cost can be paid during more time, making everything cheaper (think in airplanes). With cheaper subscription more willl buy EV cars and the demand for gas stations will go up, reducing the deployment cost.

Standardization is quickly solved by the car builders if there is demand, or by the government (think in Europe) to speed up things. Just look to the LPG/GPL cars, they aren't many, but a standard for gas station was created without much trouble.

This problem is always the same: better batteries will solve most problems by improving the demand, being best by much higher energy density, or by being much cheaper or last much longer. If you can get 1 of this, is good, 2 is great, 3 would be as finding the holy grail

Also don't forget that you can also combine batteries, you can use the long lasting battery for the small charge cycles (breaking, plug-in anywhere, solar, etc) and use the high density ones for the nightly charge (and if needed, to keep the other battery on the optimum charge level)

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 4 months ago | (#46998731)

Ever since better place went out of business nobody is talking about battery swap stations

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

WindBourne (631190) | about 4 months ago | (#47002011)

Energy density of current Li batteries does NOT limit car sales. All of the car sales currently prove otherwise. The fact is, that as electric cars sales continue, the battery costs and therefore EVs will come down further. And once giga-factory is built, that will only drive down cell costs further (according to musk, it will be about 1/2 to 1/3 of what it is today).

OTOH, oil based cars are only going up in price. So, while EVs are good enough to sell RIGHT NOW, in 5 years time, EVs will be better.

Things that will help FUTURE car sales would be costs by new chemistry, and better longevity. Higher ED would also help, but that improves every year.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

anomalous3 (1564795) | about 4 months ago | (#47007069)

These also apparently charge more quickly, which is definitely on the list of "stuff we really want from batteries". This definitely seems to be at the "might actually go into production" phase, and if they're telling the truth it'll make for cheap production as well. I'll trade power density for cheap, fast charging, and reusable when it comes to anything I don't have to carry myself.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46997199)

Right, too many future of battery stories but we're still stuck with the same old stuff.

If you were old like me you'd have seen batteries going from being total crap to pretty darn good.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (2)

Belial6 (794905) | about 4 months ago | (#47003679)

Exactly. Some people expect a grand annoncement that makes it worth throwing away last years model of battery. That hasnt happened, and it wont happen. On the other hand, a big part of what made those comically large brick phones from the 80's so big was total crap batteries. If my smartphone had to run off ni-cad, I wouldnt bother.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#46997015)

It doesn't sound any better than the cells Tesla is already using anyway. Tesla have tested to 750,000 miles with about 80% capacity left. Supercharging from flat takes 50 minutes, or under 30 minutes for 180 miles of range. Combined with more than 260 miles range it is more than good enough for most people.

Intense skepticism. Fraud? (3, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 4 months ago | (#46997021)

At present yours is the 4th comment and the 4th extremely skeptical comment.

Quote from the article:

Power Japan says a Ryden cell barely heats up during charge and discharge--it "experiences minimal thermal change" ...

That means there is little electrical resistance, which seems impossible if both electrodes are made of carbon. Metal has low electrical resistance. The electrical resistance of carbon is much higher.

A 2nd quote:

... an electric car's battery would hold its full energy over 10 years or more, ...

That's another statement about electrical resistance. It says that there is effectively an open circuit between the battery terminals, a very high resistance. The battery would not drain itself. Seems impossible to me.

The writer has a lack of understanding of technology:

And equally important for practicality, the new dual-carbon anode and cathode can both be produced by existing cell manufacturing processes--and require essentially just a single material as input: carbon.

That reduces the number of materials that must be procured for the supply chain, simplifying the entire production process.

The BIG issue is that the battery would not use an expensive, scarce metal: Lithium. The fact that the author doesn't mention that indicates he understands extremely little.

This is even more weird:

Separate from the announcement of the Ryden battery, Power Japan Plus is also working on a new form of carbon that is entirely organic.

The material, known as Carbon Complex, which is made using naturally-grown organic cotton that is then processed using special techniques to control the size of the carbon crystals formed during production.

Early test cells are not produced with the organic carbon, but the company's goal is to create a battery cell that is not only competitive with today's lithium-ion cells but uses entirely organic input materials that can be fully recycled at the end of their life.

That is so confused I decided not to comment on the confusion.

Maybe the entire reason for the article is to find amazingly ignorant investors:

Meanwhile, Power Japan Plus--which has been internally funded until now--is seeking its first investments of private funds.

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (2)

michelcolman (1208008) | about 4 months ago | (#46997105)

Organic carbon?! Wow, I head no idea atoms could be grown organically! This must be so much more environmentally friendly than making them using chemicals!

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (3, Informative)

Njovich (553857) | about 4 months ago | (#46997143)

I agree that most of what is written there sounds like nonsense, but to be pedantic, carbon as the name of an organic substance predates the discovery of atoms by a vast amount of time. To be even more pedantic, a common definition of an organic compound is that the molecule contains carbon.

Mental overload (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 4 months ago | (#47001835)

Thank you for saying that. It was so crazy I didn't know what to say.

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (1)

Spoke (6112) | about 4 months ago | (#46997109)

The BIG issue is that the battery would not use an expensive, scarce metal: Lithium. The fact that the author doesn't mention that indicates he understands extremely little.

But Lithium is not expensive or scarce relative to current costs of lithium battery manufacture. Other metals and manufacturing costs dominate the current cost of lithium cells.

More info? (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 4 months ago | (#46998849)

Could you provide more information? A search says that Lithium costs $300 per pound, not as high as I would have guessed. What other metals?

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (4, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#46998057)

Have a look at their web site, it makes much more sense: http://powerjapanplus.com/batt... [powerjapanplus.com]

It's an organic electrolyte. It appears to use lithium, but simultaneous ion and anion flow in opposite directions to increase current flow while producing less heat. They say they have filed a patent but I couldn't find it, not really sure how long it takes for Japanese ones to come online.

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46998629)

An all-HTML site?!?! Honestly do they really exist? Or a hoax?

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (1)

gargalatas (924373) | about 4 months ago | (#46998653)

Even their news page is in HTML! wtf?

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (1)

webmistressrachel (903577) | about 4 months ago | (#47001869)

PHP and most other server-side preprocessors can process html on the way out, too. Simple setting.

Means script kiddies like you won't look too hard at hacking... after all not much there to hack if you think it's all just straight html...

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (1)

higuita (129722) | about 4 months ago | (#47001325)

what the problem of a HTML site?!

Not everyone likes flash, javascript and php/ruby/whatever

You can build a good site using some scripts and templates and building HTML pages when they are needed (say using a Makefile)

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | about 4 months ago | (#47000763)

Look at the picture of the computer [powerjapanplus.com] the two serious looking scientists (or actors ) are sitting at. Either it is a IBM-PC XT with a floppy disk from 1980s or it is a DVD/VCR player with a TV set on top.

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (1)

cbhacking (979169) | about 4 months ago | (#47002087)

I see a 3.5" floppy drive (not unheard of in workstation machines, especially those which interface with any kind of manufacturing equipment and therefore may still actually use them) and an optical drive (not sure what kind, but it's not from the 1980s). The chassis is nothing unusual; I've seen machines like that at offices all over the place. The monitor is unusually thick for a modern LCD, which suggests old (cheap) equipment, but not necessarily indicating any kind of fraud.

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (1)

HagraBiscuit (2756527) | about 4 months ago | (#46998723)

I agree that the journalist writing the article seems to lack even the most fundamental knowledge of electricity.
I simply had to stop reading after: "...4 volts of power..." which caused me to eat my own head.

Re:Intense skepticism. Fraud? (1)

higuita (129722) | about 4 months ago | (#47001409)

That means there is little electrical resistance, which seems impossible if both electrodes are made of carbon. Metal has low electrical resistance. The electrical resistance of carbon is much higher.

Tell that to the graphene, to the nanotubes and to any superconductors build with high resistance (isolated) materials.

Most of the time, each material have different behaviour than simply the sum of all parts, the interaction between different atoms change their global proprieties

Do any of those apply? (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | about 4 months ago | (#47002383)

Graphene is one atom thick. Probably not used in car batteries.

Re:Do any of those apply? (1)

higuita (129722) | about 3 months ago | (#47015883)

so?

what matters in a battery usually is the "reactive" surface, not how thick it is.

The real problem right now for graphene is how to produce it! :)

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46997089)

Actually if you read between the lines, a minor tweak is exactly what they are patenting. Current technology can easily achieve 2000 cycles, they claim 3000. The innovation is a special treatment of the carbon matrix, which is claimed to reduce the intercalation damage. That is one of the ageing mechanisms of Li batteries, but not necessarily the dominating one, especially in an automotive environment.

So yes, a minor tweak it is. Still worth good money, but not a breakthrough.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about 4 months ago | (#47005279)

50% better is minor?

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46997275)

How much more minor do you mean? They say " 'specific and proprietary changes to the nanostructure of the carbon crystals"
carbon nano-structures are pretty small.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46997377)

Yeah it does sound a bit far-fetched.

Of course, it could be that others were just looking for the next big thing, or make the current thing more dense, instead of trying to figure out how to change something that exists.
I doubt it though. Materials science generally looks in to adding minor impurities to acquire certain qualities all the time. Battery construction is just a subset of that research. If nobody really thought of that, it boggles the mind really.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

AttillaTheNun (618721) | about 4 months ago | (#46998983)

You're not wrong - something may very well happen to keep the technology from being mass produced. EV production and advancement has been stalled many times in an effort to maintain the status quo. Here's a story from Steve Hekeroth, an individual who knows all too well.

http://www.ai-online.com/Adv/Q... [ai-online.com]

Unsurprisingly, it has taken a billionaire entrepreneur, Elon Musk, to disrupt the market. Let's hope the trend continues.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (1)

Stargoat (658863) | about 4 months ago | (#46999639)

So basically owners of hybrids could start to think about getting Total Cost of Ownership of their cars to somewhere in the neighborhood of my more fuel efficient diesel. Consumer Reports link. [consumerreports.org] And that on top of the under-reported diesel MPG formula used in the US. [wikipedia.org] Consumer Reports shows 36 average MPG for the Volkswagen Jetta TDI Wagon. My total combined is 38.6. On long trips, it averages about 44 MPG, with the AC on. I have not met a Jetta TDI owner that does not say likewise.

Hybrids owners, see me rolling, they hating, controlling,

'cause I'm riding diesel.

Re:Let me know when it gets to production (if ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47002985)

TCO and MPG are not the be all end all of buying a car. My very, very nicely equipped Lincoln MKZ Hybrid cost about $36K, probably about $5K more than a top of the line Jetta with every option you can buy. Nearly all the stuff that you have to pay extra for on the Jetta is standard on the Lincoln, plus there are quite a few technology and comfort features not available on a Jetta (adaptive cruise control, blind spot intervention, ventilated massage seats, 110 AC outlet, cross traffic alerting, collision intervention, parking assist, etc.).

I bought the Lincoln because it's damned comfortable, extremely quiet and it has air-conditioned seats--something that I'm willing to pay money for here in Florida. It also happens to have an EPA rating of 45/45. So far I am getting similar MPG to what you are experiencing in your Jetta, but I'm still learning to optimize fuel usage. But I'm doing that with regular gas, which is about 20 - 25% cheaper here in Florida, and available at every station (Diesel isn't always).

Nothing wrong with owning an efficient Diesel--I've admired them for a long time since I drove them in Europe--but for me a car is not a 100% numbers proposition. There's comfort, style, convenience and safety too.

Eight years? Might work if... (1)

TWX (665546) | about 4 months ago | (#46996897)

...there's enough post-sale support to allow for a reasonable replacement of the batteries.

Our newest daily-use car is thirteen years old, and the two other regular-use vehicles are nineteen years old. We certainly could afford to replace them but they've not needed too much expensive service yet and they meet our needs, so we're fine with just continuing to drive them.

American Consumers are starting to get used to the idea of a car lasting 200,000 miles. Only getting 100,000 miles out of one because the battery charge cycles are exhausted wouldn't be a terribly good deal unless the car cost significantly less than gasoline or diesel powered models or had something particularly special to offer for the same price.

Unfortunately it could be hard to predict usage patterns to charge less often and to wait until batteries are low enough to need it, as while one's daily commute might be consistent most of the time, if an emergency or other need forces a change it would be terrible to be low on energy simply because the computer thought that you were only going to need a range of 30 miles that day.

Re:Eight years? Might work if... (2)

CBravo (35450) | about 4 months ago | (#46996931)

What eight years?

I only read 3000 cycles and a possible 300 mile radius which translates into 900.000 miles total lifetime. If that is only 22% true then it would be fine.

Re: Eight years? Might work if... (1)

GWBasic (900357) | about 4 months ago | (#46996973)

Did your cars ever have a major repair? Owning a car for 200k miles and doing a major repair at 100k is fine. Besides, people are still throwing around the idea of battery exchange.

Re: Eight years? Might work if... (1)

KingOfBLASH (620432) | about 4 months ago | (#46997209)

Agreed. The cost of the car > cost of a battery. While you may need to replace the battery at 100k miles, it's no different then needing to rebuild the engine, or make another major repair...

Re: Eight years? Might work if... (1)

Anarchduke (1551707) | about 4 months ago | (#46997279)

I'm glad thats not my Subaru. It went 220,000 miles before needing a major repair. If you consider replacing the alternator major.

Re: Eight years? Might work if... (2)

guruevi (827432) | about 4 months ago | (#46998761)

You're just a statistical anomaly with your anecdotal evidence. Most people barely make it to 75k regardless of brand before replacing something that costs near the $5-7k at which point it's usually cheaper to just buy a new car. Especially luxury car repairs (which the Tesla is at this point) can double that cost not to mention the fact that you need oil changes and other repairs specific to ICE engines (mufflers, control valves, cooling) which again, you won't walk out of a Mercedes garage without $100 for an oil change. Electric motors are not only more resilient, they also require no maintenance, don't need extensive regulators, doesn't need liquid cooling and doesn't produce the heat nor vibrations that cause extra stress on other systems.

Re: Eight years? Might work if... (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | about 4 months ago | (#46999837)

And you are erring on the other side of the spectrum. If your car needs such an extensive repair before it hits 100k miles, you're doing something wrong (accident or not following standard maintenance protocols) or you got a lemon.

Most cars these days should hit 150k without any major mechanical failure. The Japanese forced US auto makers to step up their game over the past decade.

beg to differ (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 4 months ago | (#47000507)

If most people would need a large repair by 75K then how can Hyundai offer a 10yr/ 100K mi powertrain warranty?

I'm another statistical anomaly, I guess. I'm currently driving a 2005 Matrix with 93K miles on it, and it's only needed a new clockspring assembly ($300 in parts, did it myself).

Re:beg to differ (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 4 months ago | (#47002059)

Power train warranty only covers the motor, the transmission and parts of the drivetrain. My car has a little over 100k on it and currently requires repairs on the shocks, new muffler and wheel bearings as well as several sensors (oxygen and coolant level - both of which make the car fail inspection). Total cost would be $5k.

Got a new motor control computer (one day, the car didn't start, couldn't move it out of park, $1.5k), 2 EGR valves ($300 per) and new heated seats under extended warranty (would've cost $700). Already went through 2 batteries ($50 each) and 2 sets of tires ($400 each). I live up north so ice, snow, rain, salt eat away anything that's thin about a car.

I've found ICE engines are very complex beasts and very expensive and time consuming to maintain and fuel. Replacing a battery every decade or so wouldn't be too big of a deal.

Re: Eight years? Might work if... (1)

knarf (34928) | about 4 months ago | (#47003497)

I don't have a car (I ride motorbikes instead) but my wife does. I maintain her car, always have.

Oil change? What for? Because they say so? Because the warranty... wait a minute, warranty... that is for new cars, right? We don't buy new cars as that is a waste of money. We buy cars when they're about 4-5 years old, having done about 100.000 km. We get rid of them when they've done about 350.000 km, usually some 6-7 years later. The only time I change the oil is when she's run the thing into some piece of rock again, causing it to piss out the oil somewhere (this happened three times thus far...). Otherwise the oil stays where it is, topped up regularly but otherwise left alone.

We live in Sweden, where cars undergo mandatory inspection every year. This inspection includes an analysis of the exhaust gases for pollutants (hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide). No car I've maintained has ever failed these (stringent) tests, usually the values are at the low edge of what the equipment can detect.

Of course this is all anecdotal evidence, and there are many reports to the contrary, but I claim that the whole oil changing ritual is no more than that - a ritual which once had value but has lost it due to the quality of modern oil and filters (which I *do* change) and the cleaner-burning engines and fuels. It also helps that we run most vehicles on a mixture of ethanol and petrol, with up to 85% ethanol (E85) in some. Yes, there are reports about all sorts of bad things which ethanol will do to your engine and oil. Strangely enough I have not noticed anything of this sort, but that is - again - just anecdotal...

The biggest engine-related repair I've had to do on one of her cars was the swap of a water pump on her current car. This was caused by a design defect (VAG engine, plastic impeller cracks, rotates freely around shaft).

I'm all for electric cars but modern ICE-equipped cars are rather trouble-free, at least the ones I've worked on.

Re: Eight years? Might work if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46998781)

Uhh, no. Doing a major repair at 100K is not acceptable. There are wear items that have a design life under 200K, but none of those are major. F-150 is at 200K and tires, brakes, clutch, hoses, plugs and wires are wear items that have been replaced on schedule. The alternator and water pump are accesorries that have been replaced (once each) and tie rod ends and the windshield have finally worn out, but that's it. All of that, together, doesn't quite make a "major repair". Stop buying throw-away shit. Buying more gas for my old truck is still better for the environment than scrapping it and building a new one from mostly raw materials.

Re:Eight years? Might work if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46997077)

American Consumers are starting to get used to the idea of a car lasting 200,000 miles. Only getting 100,000 miles out of one because the battery charge cycles are exhausted wouldn't be a terribly good deal unless the car cost significantly less than gasoline or diesel powered models or had something particularly special to offer for the same price.

Acceleration and off-road performance.

When it comes to acceleration or to getting out of uneven terrain traditional vehicles aren't even close to competing.

Re:Eight years? Might work if... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 4 months ago | (#46997285)

Unfortunately it could be hard to predict usage patterns to charge less often and to wait until batteries are low enough to need it

Why would you want to do that in the first place? Most people just plug in when they get home. Takes a few seconds, saves going to the petrol station every week. Normal charge is 80%, which is 208 miles or more in a Tesla so I have no idea where you got 30 miles from. Even a Leaf at an 80% charge is 80+ miles range, assuming you don't Broder it.

Re:Eight years? Might work if... (2)

WhiteZook (3647835) | about 4 months ago | (#46997503)

Depends on where/how you live. Quite a few people live in an apartment building or other types of houses where they can't reasonably run a power cord between their home and their car.

Re:Eight years? Might work if... (1)

number17 (952777) | about 4 months ago | (#47000439)

Obviously you just need a really long extension cord! [larsonelectronics.com] Forget the fact it will set you back $1,620.

Re:Eight years? Might work if... (2)

ultranova (717540) | about 4 months ago | (#46997617)

Unfortunately it could be hard to predict usage patterns to charge less often and to wait until batteries are low enough to need it, as while one's daily commute might be consistent most of the time, if an emergency or other need forces a change it would be terrible to be low on energy simply because the computer thought that you were only going to need a range of 30 miles that day.

Speaking of computers, can't you do what SSDs do: cycle which cells are used first? It's not like a computer-controlled battery needs to take a little from every one; you can drain one, then the next, then the next, and after they're loaded go for the fourth.

Alternatively, you can always use the same cell first; when battery performance becomes unacceptable, just replace the worn-out cells rather than the whole thing. In fact, you could even use different technologies for different cells, since they don't need to produce the exact same voltage in this scenario: focus on cycle count and/or cheap price on the first-used end, and charge density and -longevity on the last resort end.

Re:Eight years? Might work if... (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 4 months ago | (#46998911)

That would be generally impractical as the cells would need very very very high C ratings if you were to use one at a time to be able to provide sufficient current (and running lithium batteries near their maximum current rating is quite hard on them). Running the whole pack in parallel is much better since you can use batteries with lower C ratings and you're less hard on them.

Re:Eight years? Might work if... (1)

necro81 (917438) | about 4 months ago | (#46998119)

Only getting 100,000 miles out of one because the battery charge cycles are exhausted wouldn't be a terribly good deal unless the car cost significantly less than gasoline or diesel powered models or had something particularly special to offer for the same price.

You neglect the ongoing costs of owning each type of car. The biggest difference between is the cost of fuel: gasoline/diesel versus electricity. On a per mile basis, the fuel for EVs is much less expensive. A more appropriate way to judge between the two is the total cost of ownership for 100k miles, or 200k miles, and then determine the TCO/mile. I expect that, even with a battery replacement at 100k miles, the TCO/mile for an EV is not all that bad, and will only become more favorable in the future.

"Same energy density" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46996957)

Worthless. "Same energy density" is NOT what you want to see. EVs have yet to take off in part thanks to highly expensive batteries that deliver a relatively short range for a relatively large amount of weight.

And there are two other battery "breakthroughs' in the past two years that have doubled, and even quadrupled, energy density over today's lithium ion batteries. Materials, like graphene, waiting for widescale manufacturability before hitting the market, but the one at quardruple the density, which is also much less volatile then today's "explodey into fire" batteries, well you can bet there's a lot of money going towards it. Making the batteries from the article a brief flash in the pan at best, even if you have to replace them "actual range" and/or "a reasonable upfront cost" is going to trump that.

At least for EV's. There's another industry that's just dying for ultra long term re-usability. And that's renewable energy. Wind, when it's going, is already cheaper than coal, and Solar will be the same in most areas before the decade is out. But both are intermittent, and a reliable way to store and disperse that energy throughout the day (and night) and longer without ever having almost ever having to replace the batteries that do so will be gladly welcomed.

All of the 'breakthroughs' use alternative chem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46996977)

Basically, Li-ion won't get you there. All of the 'breakthroughs' are in alternative chemistries. That's why these things tend to sound more like PR than Engineering.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEHs3X75IDo

> The goal, said Eric Isaacs, Director of Argonne National Laboratory, is “5-5-5. We will develop batteries that are five times more powerful and five times cheaper within 5 years. Factors of five are what we need to transform transportation and the power grid.”

HOSTS files are the ultimate battery improvement (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46997193)

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B. ) Hosts add reliability vs. downed or redirected DNS + secure vs. known malicious domains too -> http://tech.slashdot.org/comme... [slashdot.org] w/ less added "moving parts" complexity + room 4 breakdown,

C. ) Hosts files yield more speed (blocks ads & hardcodes fav sites - faster than remote DNS), security (vs. malicious domains serving mal-content + block spam/phish), reliability (vs. downed or Kaminsky redirect vulnerable DNS, 99% = unpatched vs. it & worst @ ISP level + weak vs FastFlux + DynDNS botnets), & anonymity (vs. dns request logs + DNSBL's).

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Hosts do more w/ less (1 file) @ a faster level (ring 0) vs redundant browser addons (slowing up slower ring 3 browsers) via filtering 4 the IP stack (coded in C, loads w/ OS, & 1st net resolver queried w\ 45++ yrs.of optimization).

* Addons are more complex + slowup browsers in message passing (use a few concurrently - you'll see) - Addons slowdown SLOWER usermode browsers layering on MORE: I work w/ what you have in kernelmode, via hosts ( A tightly integrated PART of the IP stack itself )

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Can't have it both ways (2)

lfp98 (740073) | about 4 months ago | (#46997299)

Seems to me their claims are contradictory. If the cell doesn't heat up at all during charge/discharge, then it must have very low internal resistance and consequently if there is a short, it will release its energy almost instantaneously and be more, not less, susceptible to thermal runaway and fires (it's carbon after all). No matter how low the internal resistance, the energy when has to go somewhere. Relatively high internal resistance is what makes LiFePO4 cells safe for EV hobbyists - short out a cell and it will heat up and destroy itself, but slowly enough that it won't explode or catch fire. Proprietary lithium chemistries used in commercial EVs have lower resistance and better performance but are much more volatile.

Re:Can't have it both ways (1)

fnj (64210) | about 4 months ago | (#46998099)

Thermal runaway is not just a description of something that gets real hot. Thermal runaway means the system has positive feedback - the hotter it gets the faster it gets even hotter.

The (relative) safety of LiFePO4 does not have anything to do with high internal resistance. It has to do with chemistry. You can design LiFePO4 to have an internal resistance just about as low as LiIon. Ask any electric powered radio control flyer.

First client (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 4 months ago | (#46997475)

won't even say who its first customer is

A Japanese startup... the first client could likely be Toyota - Toyota is constantly welcoming innovation, and a Japanese startup would prefer to grant such beneficial technological progress to another Japanese company, regardless the amount of money coming from overseas. Japan is known for national preference.

World-class Japanese research (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46997955)

I hope this breakthrough is as good as the stem cells dipped in acid!

No Lithium, but there are Li+ symbols? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46998045)

Maybe I missed something, but the graphic of the batter showing the carbon anode and carbon cathode, also showed A+ and Li+ symbols - but I thought this battery didn't use Lithium? Are there any papers that the Chemistry professor has published that might shed some more light on what's going on here?

Re:No Lithium, but there are Li+ symbols? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47000021)

Maybe I missed something, but the graphic of the batter showing the carbon anode and carbon cathode, also showed A+ and Li+ symbols - but I thought this battery didn't use Lithium? Are there any papers that the Chemistry professor has published that might shed some more light on what's going on here?

It doesn't use lithium for the electrodes, those are made of carbon. The electrolyte does contain lithium.

Change of perspective. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46998061)

Lot of talk about longevity of cars regarding replacement parts. There are fewer parts in an EV, so you might need one large bill to replace batteries, but vs water pump and two cambelt changes I've had to stump up for already at 90k and other servicing costs. The cost of new battery cells is actually one of perspective once initial purchase price is lowered

No one seems to have mentioned that there's a fair bit of armour plating to stop intrusion into the lithium cells on a Tesla. Less weight means more cells can be loaded on as a carbon battery, if I've read some of the stuff about this, is far more robust.

Carbon vs lithium is cheaper and more readily available. If you want to scale production. Not that Tesla aren't trying this already to lower costs by scale, but some of the other fancier metals required aren't required for this tech? Again not fully RTFA but this is slashdot.

It's a step change still, but one with potential. More than some battery tech I've read about recently.

Re:Change of perspective. (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | about 4 months ago | (#47002049)

There are fewer parts in an EV, so you might need one large bill to replace batteries, but vs water pump and two cambelt changes I've had to stump up for already at 90k and other servicing costs.

In a pure EV sure, though you still have some new things to break. Specifically anything that's an accessory. Electric motors are far less reliable than hydraulic pumps. (Power Steering, Air Conditioning, Power Brakes) and of course you have the electric motor(s), batteries, computers and any associated charging/voltage conversion hardware bits.

In a Hybrid you've got the worst of both words maintenance wise, but that's the trade-off you're making.

Organic Carbon? (1)

Sir Holo (531007) | about 4 months ago | (#46998553)

Something tells me the this company hasn't thought everything through.

...naturally-grown organic cotton...

Isn't cotton one of the most pesticide-intensive crops around? If, perhaps, they meant to use the other definition of organic — molecules based on carbon, but containing other elements — well, they're being redundant.

...uses entirely organic input materials that can be fully recycled at the end of their life...

From the first image presented, a dual carbon cell looks to require lithium, just like a lithium battery does.

Re:Organic Carbon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47006615)

There are methods to grow cotton entirely without insecticides, pesticides or fertilizers. That is what is called organic cotton. Yields are low, more labour is needed making such organically grown cotton more expensive. It is purchased by manufacturers who want to brag about their environment friendliness, usually from Europe or the US..

Battery companies (1)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#47002345)

Ah, startup battery companies. There have been so many.

I have no idea if this will work. But the company seems flaky. Their "path to market" says "This facility will allow Power Japan Plus to meet demand for specialty energy storage markets such as medical devices and satellites." In other words, they're nowhere near making auto batteries.

The medical and satellite industries won't be interested because they already have specialty batteries with demonstrated long life and huge numbers of charge/discharge cycles. [quallion.com] Cost isn't a big issue there. So this sounds like an excuse for stringing along investors.

What these guys need to do is build some prototype batteries, put them in a car, and drive on battery power from Tokyo to Osaka without a recharge. That's a little beyond what a Tesla can do. If they can do that, people will listen.

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