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Step Toward Liberating Electronic Devices From Their Power Cords

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the supercapacitive-cats dept.

Power 130

Science_afficionado (932920) writes "A new type of supercapacitor that can hold a charge when it takes a lickin' has been developed by engineers at Vanderbilt University. It is the first 'multi-functional' energy storage device that can operate while subject to realistic static and dynamic loads — advancing the day when everything from cell phones to electric vehicles will no longer need separate batteries. These devices could make it possible to design electrical devices that are not limited by plugs and external power sources."

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I hate it when; (1, Troll)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#47055261)

A supposedly intelligent author feels the need to say "ten times less"

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055301)

Do you have a more succinct and commonly understood way of of measuring an approximate fraction of relative measure than "N times more/less" for the cases where exact measurements aren't as important as getting the general point across?

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055359)

one tenth
ten percent

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055315)

I'm intrigued, what is wrong with this one?

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 4 months ago | (#47055373)

It's just terribly poorly worded. Say, you have a capacity of 1mAh; you multiply it by ten, then subtract that from the 1mAh == -9mAh capacity? What? No, the proper wording would be "Supercapacitors store a tenth of the energy of current.." rather than "Supercapacitors store ten times less energy than current..."

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 4 months ago | (#47055457)

'the energy of current' is a really weird and unreal concept. Did you take some phy ed class instead of physics?

Re:I hate it when; (2)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#47056075)

I believe he would have completed the sentence with "capacitors". Current as in presently available, not Coulombs per second.

Re:I hate it when; (4, Insightful)

MightyYar (622222) | about 4 months ago | (#47055497)

Yeah, but English is all about context. The statement "Supercapacitors store ten times less energy than current lithium-ion batteries, but they can last a thousand times longer," is unambiguous in this context because we know that the energy storage is not negative. Language would be really boring if everyone spoke as if they were programming a computer. In fact, we have precise language in various fields, and it generally sucks to read. Imagine if everything were written in legalese!

Re:I hate it when; (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | about 4 months ago | (#47055967)

According to "The Elements of Style" by Strunk and White, "one tenth" is both correct and better. "One tenth" is shorter, thus a stronger statement.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

socode (703891) | about 4 months ago | (#47056309)

So? That book is not universally regarded by many grammarians (note the passive voice).

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056405)

You're words their might be unambiguous, but still pour.

Re:I hate it when; (2)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 months ago | (#47055397)

"Ten times more" would mean multiply by ten, so it makes sense that "ten times less" means divide. It's consistent, and that's the main thing.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#47055417)

"Ten times more" would mean multiply by ten, so it makes sense that "ten times less" means divide. It's consistent, and that's the main thing.

If 10=more and 5=less, which is greater, 10 times less or 11 times less?

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 months ago | (#47055441)

That's like saying if 10=more and 5=less, which is greater, one tenth, or one eleventh.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#47055495)

No. Saying 10 times less implies less has a value. If less has no value, then 10 times less = 0.

Its not a matter of knowing what the author meant. Its simply a matter of correctness. Don't submit anything to a science journal or a legal entity, and you'll be just fine.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 months ago | (#47055613)

Would you be happier with "ten times lower" or "ten times lesser" at least?

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055749)

I'd be happier with you repeating this question to fewer people.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 4 months ago | (#47055785)

No, i"d be happy with the correct, "one tenth", or "a tenth", or "10 percent of", or any other grammatically and mathematically correct way of saying it.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 months ago | (#47055853)

Well then there's nothing more I can really say apart from: The author's way of using "less" I think is fine. Language evolves all the time, and I think this usage is not only perfectly acceptable, but is consistent, and even an *improvement* in many cases (since for other numbers, it's potentially awkward - see my other post [slashdot.org] ).

As someone else pointed out, it's even MORE appropriate given what he said in the sentence: “Supercapacitors store ten times less energy than current lithium-ion batteries, but they can last a thousand times longer.". That's a good way to contrast 10 with 1000, and it's said eloquently, making perfect sense to probably 99.9% of the population.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056199)

Language evolves, but mathematics doesn't. The words he is using actually have unambiguous meanings. This isn't an analogy, a metaphor, a phrase or or a figure of speech. It's a specific mathematical relationship.

What he means to say is that they store 0.1 times as much, or one tenth as much, or ninety percent less. Which means, if you really must express it in the form of "x times less", then the only correct way to say it is, "nine tenths times less." Which, I think even an ignoramus* such as yourself will agree, does not sound very impressive.

* If you object to me calling you an ignoramus, just assume that language evolves and it's not an insult anymore. Hey, it's not as if words have actual meanings or anything.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056419)

> It's a specific mathematical relationship.
No, it isn't. 10 is a very round, precise number, and this is a phrasing intended to impart that there could be an order of magnitude difference in a metric between the two technologies. The idea that it matters if it was 10.1x or 9x, or that the meaning of the article changes at all under this, is laughable.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

alva_edison (630431) | about 4 months ago | (#47056891)

In this context more and less are not numbers, they are functions. Specifically times means multiplication, and more/less means that the base number (ten) has been taken to the 1 or -1 power.
Also to say that anything has unambiguous logical meaning in a natural language is usually incorrect.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055985)

> No, i"d be happy with the correct, "one tenth"
Would you have complained more or less if they'd used the word 'tithe' which also means a tenth (part)?

Are you happy with 'half as much'? Since '10 times less' not ambiguous, and is the same usage as '10 times slower', but with a generic comparison rather than one fixed to a comparison in speed or time, what, other than your ignorance, is the problem?

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056109)

You're at a bus station. You have $10 in single bills and 30 seconds to choose the last bus to get home. To get a ticket you must give the exact fare. This ticket costs $12. That one costs two times less.

Would you miss the bus, Leon?

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055447)

or you know, you could use the mathematically correct "one tenth".

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 months ago | (#47055527)

That's all well and good, but what rolls off the tongue quicker and is less ambiguous for other numbers? For example, "one three hundred and seventieth", or "three hundred and seventy times less"? The latter is clearly superior.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 4 months ago | (#47056049)

That's all well and good, but what rolls off the tongue quicker and is less ambiguous for other numbers? For example, "one three hundred and seventieth", or "three hundred and seventy times less"? The latter is clearly superior.

In that example? "A quarter of a percent", by a long shot.

Look, if we don't have to be accurate, then we can use much, much quicker and smoother language. We do, however, and while "three hundred and seventy times less," is easy to say, its hard to think about.

More to the point the goal of language, especially in a technical setting, is to convey ideas in a the way most likely to be understood by the listener, not they way more convenient to say by the speaker, outside of a very few situations.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056433)

> In that example? "A quarter of a percent", by a long shot.
So you're saying that "400 times less" is more complex than translating from two languages into "a quarter of a unit normalized to 100", then taking the reciprocal of one quarter and applying it to 100 to give 400?

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056495)

For example, "one three hundred and seventieth", or "three hundred and seventy times less"? The latter is clearly superior.

Superior at obfuscation, maybe. Most people don't have that as one of their goals, though.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 4 months ago | (#47055761)

or you know, you could use the mathematically correct "one tenth".

Except that one tenth is not mathematically the same as 10 times less. There is no such thing as x times less. If you have ten apples how many apples must I have if I have 10 times less? There are two possible ways to look at this. Using a number line with 0 in the middle and negatives to left and positives to the right, I would move 100 apples (10 times 10) to the left, because I have less and I would have the mathematically correct, but physically impossible -90 apples.

The other way, which is probably what the author meant is as you suggest one tenth. However, if I have one tenth of the ten apples, meaning I have one apple and apples are the unit of measure (in this case), technically I have 9 apples less. In other words, 10 is ten times more than 1, but 1 is only nine times less than 10.

While I think that you are correct and one tenth is what the author meant. Using ten times less, at least mathematically, means something totally different.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056023)

or you know, you could just improve your communication skills, dumbass

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056531)

I normally wouldn't respond to something like this, but as pointed out by many previous posters, "10 times less" is nonsensical and ambiguous. Do they mean one tenth, or do the mean "x - 10x". We can infer they mean one tenth, but strictly what they said was "x - 10x" equally -9x. I don't believe they meant that the super capacitors have .9x the capacity of a battery. It demonstrates poor communication skills. "one tenth" demonstrates far superior communications skills. And is mathematically correct (probably) as well.

Dumbass.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056627)

and whats the law again that says when you correct somebody else you're doomed to screw up as well?

replace "equally" with "equaling" and ".9x" with "-9x"

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056837)

> I normally wouldn't respond to something like this, but as pointed out by many previous posters,
> "10 times less" is nonsensical and ambiguous.
No it isn't. We are not reading COBOL here. More or less imply directions of comparison and are not necessarily being used as addition and subtraction operators.

> Do they mean one tenth,
One tenth _of what_? Do you mean one tenth of ${ the value inferred by the context}? Which is substantively different to using ten times less (s/less/smaller if you prefer) _than ..._ the value inferred by the context?

> or do the mean "x - 10x". We can infer they mean one tenth, but strictly what they said was "x - 10x" equally -9x.
> I don't believe they meant that the super capacitors have .9x the capacity of a battery.
Neither do I, so the meaning was communicated adequately wasn't it?

> It demonstrates poor communication skills.
So despite the fact that the article communicated to both of us the same meaning, "it" demonstrated poor communication skills because you are defining poor communication skills to mean that "it" was used?

> "one tenth" demonstrates far superior communications skills. And is mathematically correct (probably) as we
It doesn't. The article is insensitive to the

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Megane (129182) | about 4 months ago | (#47055473)

Ten times more would be x + 10x = 11x. Ten times as much would be 10x.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055537)

That makes no sense.
If you ask for 10x more of something you now have 11x, counting the original. But that does not change the fact that that 10x is 10 times more more than 1x. (For positive values of x).

Re:I hate it when; (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47055745)

No, 10x is 9 times more than 1x.

You can do a simple mathematical proof

Let x = 10

1x = 10

10x = 100

According to your logic 10x +1x = 100, but it does not 9x + 1x = 100.

The problem is the word MORE, which means additional. If you have 10x additional you have to add it back to the base amount

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056671)

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/more
adjective compar. of much or many with most as superl.
1.
in greater quantity, amount, measure, degree, or number: I need more money.
2.
additional or further: Do you need more time? More discussion seems pointless.

If you use the first entry, the "in greater quantity" the other way.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47056827)

No, because "in greater quantity" still means additional, or above the amount.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056941)

> or above the amount.
That's right. The or means it doesn't necessarily get added in.

If Casear told you he had 10 times more soldiers than Asterix, would you think Asterix's soldiers had deserted him?

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056287)

That makes no sense.
If you ask for 10x more of something you now have 11x, counting the original. But that does not change the fact that that 10x is 10 times more more than 1x. (For positive values of x).

Nope. Consider x = 1. Would 1x be 1 times more than x?

No, it's not. It's exactly the same amount. It's not any more at all, eg. it's 0x more.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056873)

Your mother tells you that X costs 3 times more than Y. Y is $100. How much do you think X is?

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 months ago | (#47055557)

Hmmm... how about "ten times greater" or "ten times higher"? Would you be happier with "ten times lesser" or "ten times lower" then?

Re:I hate it when; (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | about 4 months ago | (#47056011)

By saying X times "more" or "less", the "more" or "less" or "greater" or "lesser" the writer adding is a qualitative assessment and not a mathematically significant descriptor. The correct way to write it "10 times" or "one tenth", any increase or decrease is obvious to anyone with a grade-school education and consistent for mathematically experienced readers. Alternately, if the author wants to state the obvious they can say "increased to 10 times" or "reduced to one tenth". Journalist used to write like that, and I recall being taught to write this way in school.

I sympathize with Megane on the issue of x + 10x

When speaking about percentages, to say 100% more, we are saying 2 times. The original 100% plus 100% = 200%, therefore 2 times. To say 1000% more is equal to x + 10x. Mathematically percentages work exactly like multiplication, so "10 times more" should mean x + 10x

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056177)

It only breaks down because you are shifting premises.

1) I have x and want 10 times more in addition to the x
2) I have x and want 10 times more instead

Who told you to infer (1)?

If you are at a clothes shop trying a sweater, and you ask to try something bigger, would you expect them to stitch another sweater to the one you're holding or swap it?

If you show a shopkeeper an apple and ask him for 10 times more, are you going to be upset if he gives you 10 rather than 60 (because you have 5 apples at home which you didn't tell him about)?

Re:I hate it when; (1)

thaylin (555395) | about 4 months ago | (#47056867)

Because the meaning of more means additionally.. If you want number 2 you would say "I have x and want 10 times as many instead" You are losing 1 word in your wording, and significantly changing the meaning. In fact it begins to confuse people, because you are making words lose their meaning.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056987)

English is much more subtle than that (a usage which implies additionality).

But if I have more money than you, do I also have your money (which does not, it is merely comparative)?

Re:I hate it when; (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | about 4 months ago | (#47055781)

Consistent? Not really. What if someone writes "0.1 times less". Strictly speaking, X times 0.1 is one tenth of X and would be the correct interpretation. But modern vernacular, the "less" indicating division, it would be X divided by 0.1 equaling 10X.

On a side note, what ever happened to teaching journalism students basic math?

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055909)

Not quite. "0.9 times less" would be correct for what the author was trying to say. Yes, it's awkward to say it that way, but that's why you have other linguistic constructs such as "one-tenth as much" or "ten percent of", or even "90 percent less".

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Twinbee (767046) | about 4 months ago | (#47055989)

Since it's not a scientific paper, but an article for the general public, "0.1 times less" would never get printed, is not in common usage, and so is technically undefined as of yet, but I see your point.

The point is, even amongst those who are compaining, I bet not ONE slashdotter misinterpreted that sentence in the original article.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#47056123)

Ten times is a multiplication, more is add, less is subtract.

Ten times more is c+10*x

Ten times less is c-10*x

A tenth of is x/10

A tenth less is x-x/10

Nine tenths less is x-(9*x/10)

So your saying that ten times less is the same as nine tenths less.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

Correction (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#47056137)

x+10*x and x-10*x in the first two formulas.

And "you're", not your. Ouch.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056257)

"Ten times more" would mean multiply by ten, so it makes sense that "ten times less" means divide. It's consistent, and that's the main thing.

"Ten times more" means you take the original amount, multiply it by ten, then add it to the original.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056753)

No that would be ten times more again.

Re:I hate it when; (1)

morgauxo (974071) | about 4 months ago | (#47055835)

Me too!!!!

Re: I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055929)

You're a troll. When you invent something worthwhile then step up, otherwise STFU.

Re:I hate it when; (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056475)

Retake Algebra... ;-]

How would this get rid of power cords? (4, Insightful)

Lumpio- (986581) | about 4 months ago | (#47055329)

As far as I understand, in practice using a supercap isn't much different from using a battery. The energy density might be different but it's not like they magically create energy from thin air. They still need to be charged. Or are we talking energy densities that would last for the entire life of a device here?

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (4, Interesting)

Albanach (527650) | about 4 months ago | (#47055459)

My cell phone needs charged at night, but I don't consider it to be a wired phone and I don't find the charging cord to hinder me when making calls. My laptop, on the other hand, stays plugged in most of the time because it won't last a full day otherwise. It is hampered by the power supply.

I think the idea here is that short term charging for devices is necessary, but normal operation would be wire free, thus they are liberated from wires.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (5, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 4 months ago | (#47055591)

We are pretty much getting to this point without the help of super capacitors. With new batteries, solid state drives, and low power (not low speed) chips, it's possible to make a laptop last 20 hours [laptopmag.com] . It's not mainstream, but give it another 2 or 3 years and it won't be uncommon that you'll only have to plug in you laptop at night, just like you do with your phone.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (1)

rjstanford (69735) | about 4 months ago | (#47056061)

I still get 6-7 hours out of a 15" retina MBP used for development; add an extra 1/8" of thickness worth of battery and we'd be there now (although it wouldn't be as fun to carry around).

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | about 4 months ago | (#47056381)

What kind of a workload are you looking at on the go? For office/web/coding, there are many laptops already available that will last longer than your typical smartphone.

I have a Thinkpad X220 (Sandy Bridge) that I unplug in the morning, use on battery all day (9 cell 94Wh) and then plug in when I get home, usually with 20-30% remaining after an active runtime of roughly 10 hours. A 13" MacBook Air should be able to improve on that time...

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (4, Informative)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#47055511)

The supercaps would be more like permanent batteries, and could be implemented in applications where retrieving a dead battery is inefficient.

This is potentially groundbreaking. Current battery tech leaves a lot to be desired, the materials being used are finite, and it's possible there are no more great leaps in efficiency using chemicals to store energy.

This is an entirely different way to store energy and the tech is in its infancy... storage capacities will likely improve with research.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#47055657)

Yea, but you still have to charge it. There's still a cord. The summary of both the article and the summary are basically an outright lie. The energy density is still less than that of a battery, and the tensile strength is ok... but not that great. Your device wont weigh any less, it just might be a bit smaller or have more room for other features because the battery is the case or components.

A more honest headline would have been: "Electronic devices may soon be smaller and charge faster!"
There's nothing in this technology that will eliminate the need for a cord.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (1)

Minwee (522556) | about 4 months ago | (#47055847)

A more honest headline would have been: "Electronic devices may soon be smaller and charge faster!" There's nothing in this technology that will eliminate the need for a cord.

Another equally honest headline would have been "Electronic devices may soon hold much more charge allowing them to be used without frequent charging via power cords or where existing battery powered devices would be impractical". The existing headline suggests the same thing with nineteen fewer words.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (2)

unrtst (777550) | about 4 months ago | (#47056829)

Another equally honest headline would have been "Electronic devices may soon hold much more charge allowing them to be used without frequent charging via power cords or where existing battery powered devices would be impractical". The existing headline suggests the same thing with nineteen fewer words.

I don't buy it. Take a cell phone for example... the existing lion batteries have more mass than the phone chassis, and they have 10 times the energy density of the supercap in question. Just for the sake of argument, let's say the phone chassis has twice the mass of the existing battery, and lets say you replace both the battery and the phone chassis with this supercap material. You would end up with 3/10ths the energy capacity.

AFAICT, this tech does nothing to eliminate power cords. Even in their example of a house with supercap in place of drywall (I'm sure that's more cost effective than running wires /sarcasm), devices would still need to connect to the supercap, which will almost certainly be facilitated by plugs placed regularly along the wall.

IMO, where this tech is interesting is in applications where you would not normally find an electronic device, but a low powered device may be desirable. For example, if you could make a bicycle frame out of it and have a similar strength to weight ratio as existing frames, then electric assist on a bike would not require lugging a heavy battery around with you. It'd also alow for much faster charging (ex. so delivery people on bikes, which is very common in NYC and other big cities, would always have power for their next trip).

I'm sure there are many other uses, but those where capacity is already the major issue are probably not where we should be looking first. In all cases though, this does not eliminate the cord. Charges faster, sure... and has one tenth the capacity, so you'll be charging more or lugging more weight around.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055891)

This is potentially groundbreaking.

Although I think this phrase is overused, I am grateful to you that you didn't say "This is a potential game changer" because then you'd sound like a complete marketing douche.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056575)

Yet their are engineers down playing batteries as a viable energy source...

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (4, Insightful)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 4 months ago | (#47055603)

The summary (and the article, to an extent) is bad; this is a supercapacitor that also serves as a structural part, so all sorts of random things can be turned into (weak) batteries.

They're envisioning a world where buildings, cars, and all sorts of things could be turned into giant capacitors, and you could just pump energy in somewhere and then draw it out wherever you like using some kind of short-range wireless transfer.

The idea is a bit half-baked, but I support any science that makes our world more like Star Trek, even if it takes the form of mundane objects randomly exploding when there is a power surge.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (2)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 4 months ago | (#47055797)

The summary (and the article, to an extent) is bad

In case you're on a browser thats removed the URL bar: This is slashdot.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (1)

Nemyst (1383049) | about 4 months ago | (#47055855)

A building out of supercapacitors? I guess that could be interesting in a thunderstorm...

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (1)

DarwinSurvivor (1752106) | about 4 months ago | (#47056087)

I wonder how many of these supercapacitors you could charge with a lightning strike.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (1)

hubie (108345) | about 4 months ago | (#47055917)

If they want to turn everything into big capacitors, I hope they work in ways to keep you from accidentally discharging it (years ago I took apart a cheap point-and-shoot camera and I touched the capacitor for the built-in flash and got quite a nice shock).

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | about 4 months ago | (#47056573)

where buildings, cars, and all sorts of things could be turned into giant capacitors

Having been shocked by a large cap back when I was fiddling around with discrete electronics back in the Dark Ages, the notion of being inside a building-sized cap thrills me so much that I think I'll be sick that day.

Seriously, a building-sized cap failing spectacularly would not be a fun thing to be near.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (1)

dafradu (868234) | about 4 months ago | (#47055675)

Don't take it literally, the power cords would still be there but since supercapacitors charge in minutes, not hours, you wouldn't have to stay connected all the time to recharge, thus "liberating" you from the power cord.

Re:How would this get rid of power cords? (1)

Richy_T (111409) | about 4 months ago | (#47056163)

Though replaceable batteries provide much the same benefit.

Re: How would this get rid of power cords? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056019)

I think another point about this is, capacitors charge extremely fast. So you're not spending tons of time charging relative to the capacity of the energy storage. How awesome would it be to have an electric car with a several hundred mile range, and pull up to the charge station, and charge it in just a matter of seconds (or perhaps a couple minutes)? That's one of the last hurdles is the electric car food chain, is charge time (and price). Hell, that's one of the major pinch points in anything from cell phones, laptops and smart watches.. If you could charge them nearly instantly...

instant charge. Touch, not plug in (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#47056855)

Capacitors charge virtually instantly, so a device wouldn't have a power cord attached to it for hours. Instead, you'd just touch it to the charger.

"not limited by plugs and external power sources" (2, Insightful)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | about 4 months ago | (#47055335)

Bullshit. Where exactly do they plan to get the power to charge those supercaps? From thin air?

Re:"not limited by plugs and external power source (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | about 4 months ago | (#47055445)

TFS is misleading.

One of the great advantages of this new tech is the super capacitor can be charged and discharged for millions of cycles, versus thousands of cycles for existing battery technology.

Re:"not limited by plugs and external power source (5, Informative)

cjb-nc (887319) | about 4 months ago | (#47055523)

The other advantage is the speed at which you can charge a capacitor compared to a battery. I have a consumer cordless screwdriver with a capacitor in place of a battery. It runs for a decent time and runs down, like most such devices. Unlike a battery, it recharges to full in 90 seconds, not hours.

Re:"not limited by plugs and external power source (5, Insightful)

Idarubicin (579475) | about 4 months ago | (#47055629)

TFS is misleading.

One of the great advantages of this new tech is the super capacitor can be charged and discharged for millions of cycles, versus thousands of cycles for existing battery technology.

Actually, that's not really the point of the article, either. Large numbers of charge-discharge cycles are a feature of pretty much any supercapacitor, not just these ones. They're arguing that these new supercapacitors have sufficient mechanical strength and robustness that that could be used as structural, load-bearing components in some applications. In other words, you don't have to put a box around them; they can be an integral part of the frame or case of your device. The battery (or capacitor) doesn't have to be a separate, discrete, armored lump inside the case.

In practice, as long as the energy storage density of these things is still just a tenth that of rechargeable lithium ion batteries, they're going to have problems in mobile applications. Near-indestructible material and near-instantaneous charging are both good things. But I'm not really "liberated from my power cord" if I have to top up the capacitor every couple of hours, or if my new battery-less iPhone weighs a couple of pounds with its giant supercapacitor frame.

Re:"not limited by plugs and external power source (1)

Megane (129182) | about 4 months ago | (#47055649)

Supercaps also charge a lot faster, because they don't have to convert the charge to a chemical change like a battery. But they are also very touchy devices, and you especially don't want to go over their voltage rating. It's the same reason you want to specify double the voltage rating for electrolytic caps.

They work too well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055365)

They work too well for the battery cartel allow them to become big. I guess some big battery company will buy his startup as soon as he founds it and then leave the project abandoned.

Re:They work too well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056001)

You are a dolt. You probably think there are countless "free energy" machines that met the same fate.

solar magnet energy could power house car etc (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055367)

strong enough to lift oceans, but not available to us yet, if we weren't addicted to always fatal combustibles we'd be free again for the first time... free the innocent stem cells... if one innocent is being poorly treated all of creation (including us) feels it... fake history & heritage pretense remains obsoletely fatal still... free the innocent stem cells.... rock on /. http://youtu.be/5rhM1i43NK8 step towards liberation

external power sources? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055395)

hate to break it to you but anything that uses power will be subject to external power sources. unless your cell phone plans on strapping a desk sized solar panel on that baby, the power has to come from somewhere eventually.

Re:external power sources? (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 4 months ago | (#47055611)

1 milligram of antimatter could power a cellphone for a couple of thousand years or so.

Re:external power sources? (1)

Megane (129182) | about 4 months ago | (#47055725)

But don't you know that TELSA wanted to give us all FREE ELECTRICITY until the OIL CARTEL had him silenced? It's all a conspiracy!

Titles for idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055471)

"take a licking", " no longer need separate batteries " why is news for nerds dumbed down to the level of non-techincal people?

Re:Titles for idiots (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055715)

It's not dumbed down. Someone created tech that allows cell phones and cars to be charged by licking, so that's what they report.

Go nuts (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055755)

mod 3own (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47055485)

distributioN make his clash with

How many? (4, Funny)

jamesl (106902) | about 4 months ago | (#47055577)

How many stories have we read in the last two decades about breakthroughs in power that will replace current battery technology, cut the power cord, end our dependence on carbon or make our undies clean and white on half the water? How many have resulted in actual products and a better life?

Only the clean and white one.

Eh? (4, Insightful)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 4 months ago | (#47056259)

Batteries have gone through multiple generations of technology in the last two decades. Solar panels are now so cheap that the physical installation costs are the biggest part of installed costs. Solid-state storage is increasingly the norm. OLEDs are now in TVs, 77" diag. 4k-ish, WRGB. e-Paper readers cost tens of dollars and are seen as outdated tech. Smartphones cost tens of dollars. 4G phones. Gb/s Wi-Fi. Etc etc.

How much fucking progress do you need?

(When Li-Ion was introduced in '91, it stored less than 90 Wh/kg, now it's over 200 Wh/kg. The price was over $3/Wh, and is now less than 30c/Wh. http://www.batteryuniversity.com/images/parttwo-55h.gif [batteryuniversity.com] . And there's no reason to suspect it will stop, we're still pushing Li-polymer capacity. With LiS, LiMetal, and ZnAir all in the early commercialisation stage, and graphite-everything in the lab stage.)

((Solar panels have doubled in capacity/m^2 every ten years, and halved in price/m^2. Every doubling of global production cuts the price by 1/5th. http://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2012/12/daily-chart-19 [economist.com] . And there's no reason to suggest the trend will stop.))

hold a charge when it takes a lickin' (3, Funny)

Threni (635302) | about 4 months ago | (#47055621)

What does this folksy nonsense actually mean? Something to do with saliva?

Yep, reckon so..gahoop gahoop gahoop.

Re:hold a charge when it takes a lickin' (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | about 4 months ago | (#47056121)

Have you ever tested a 9-colt with your tongue? I wouldn't try that with a similarly sized super capacitor. You are liable to bite your tongue off.

bestiality is illegal and guns are not for oral us (3, Funny)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#47056933)

> a 9-colt with your tongue?

If that's a 9mm Colt, that sure sounds like a bad idea.
If you're talking about tonguing a horse - nasty.

Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47056217)

I'll be more impressed when we can get rock musicians to eliminate their dependence on power chords

Nothing to do with "Liberating form Power cords" (2)

Quantus347 (1220456) | about 4 months ago | (#47056609)

This "new" supercapacitor has nothing to do with liberating devices from Power Cords. Supercapacitors still need to be externally charged. All this development does is make them a bit more resilient than current model when in more rugged environment, and supposedly make it where we used supercapacitors as structural components. In other words your car would not have a separate battery to replace, because it's frame itself would be used to store electricity. While the creator seems to think that is the wave of the future, I dont see it as a particular good (or cost effective) idea.
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