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Nanotech Anode Promises 10X Battery Life

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-day-laptop dept.

Power 193

UNIMurph sends word out of Stanford University that researchers have discovered a way to increase battery life tenfold by using silicon nanowires. Quoting News.com: 'It's not a small improvement,' [lead researcher Yi] Cui said. 'It's a revolutionary development.' Citing a research paper they wrote, published in Nature Nanotechnology, Cui said the increased battery capacity was made possible though a new type of anode that utilizes silicon nanowires. Traditional lithium ion batteries use graphite as the anode. This limits the amount of lithium — which holds the charge — that can be held in the anode, and it therefore limits battery life... 'We are working on scaling up and evaluating the cost of our technology,' Cui said. 'There are no roadblocks for either of these.'"

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Dupe (0, Offtopic)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22062926)

Didn't we see this last month or so?

Re:Dupe (1, Informative)

Crypto Gnome (651401) | more than 6 years ago | (#22062944)

You saw it.

I saw it

But clearly "they" did not see it, else "they" would not have submitted a dupe.

Re:Dupe (1)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22062980)

Don't the editors at least read the headlines? Or do they have a lower standard to live down to than the rest of us?

Re:Dupe (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063154)

Don't the editors at least read the headlines?
you must be new here. Dupes are not just the editor's doing although the editors really should google things like this it is ultimately other slashdotters that vote stories like these up in the firehose. No matter how many dupes happen on slashdot, people still vote up duplicates of stories probably because 1) no one googles them and 2) a lot of our fellow slashdotters apparently don't visit the site enough to know a dupe like this one.

Re:Dupe (1)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065438)

Not to excuse them, but at least it's a different article on a different website, and at least it's not another worthless copy+paste blog "article" from over a year ago. This dupe is pretty high standard compared to some.

=Smidge=

Re:Dupe (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065850)

Who cares if things get reported more than once. It's something that enough people thought was interesting that they thought it should be posted. Obviously some people want to discuss it. If you've already read the story, and don't want to discuss it any more, then that's fine, but there's lots of people who miss the story the first time around, and would like to discuss it.

Re:Dupe (1)

TheRealZeus (1172755) | more than 6 years ago | (#22062946)

vaporware 2.0?

Re:Dupe (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063044)

Damn I thought we were going to get a factor of 100 improvement in battery capacity.

Re:Dupe (4, Informative)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063374)

It's not even 10fold -- at least not currently. It's only "several" times improvement without an equivalent cathode improvement. Now, that may well happen, but it hasn't happened yet. However, they think they may be able to commercialize it in five years [gm-volt.com] .

Re:Dupe (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063424)

And, let me add, I don't say this to diminish the importance of this news. A severalfold improvement is major, major news. Not in the least because this anode likely lends itself to very rapid charging at the same time. What we're looking at is, as it stands, giving it the sort of charge time and range as a gasoline vehicle, meaning that there's no reason to stick with gasoline (when you can get lower maintenance (assuming long lifespan batteries), higher torque, quieter, more thermodynamically efficient vehicles that only require gas station visits on long trips, require hardly any new infrastructure (versus oil, which needs a lot of infrastructure construction) due to mostly off-peak charging (timer-based to get you a low rate and use our huge amount of unused off-peak capacity), lets us use domestic energy supplies instead of funding our enemies with oil imports, and even if all of the electricity came from burning fossil fuels, would still emit almost half the greenhouse gasses. An equivalent cathode improvement for electric vehicles simply means that you could then drive cross-country on a single charge.

As for lifespan, Yi Cui's team expects to be able to get at least 1,000 cycles out of this. That may not sound like much, but when you can go ~350 miles on a charge, that's 350,000 miles. And not like the battery just disintegrates up at the end of its lifespan; it simply doesn't hold as much charge.

Re:Dupe (1)

pipatron (966506) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063954)

And not like the battery just disintegrates up at the end of its lifespan; it simply doesn't hold as much charge.

To be honest, that depends on what their marketing division means with a "cycle"...

Re:Dupe (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064040)

What we're looking at is, as it stands, giving it the sort of charge time and range as a gasoline vehicle

Also time shifted photovoltaic and wind power suddenly become much more viable. The problem with solar power is that we throw away much of the peak supply because we can't store it anywhere.

Re:Dupe (1)

InvalidError (771317) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065482)

Until solar and wind power exceed overall power demand, there is no real need to store that power: any power from clean/renewable sources will reduce the amount of non-renewable resources used in other power plants and this in itself could be considered as a form of grid-based storage. Another form of grid-based storage is to operate hydroelectric turbines in reverse during low-demand hours to pump water back to the high-side, basically using the water reservoirs like capacitors to even out production requirements from other power plants.

Re:Dupe (4, Interesting)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064342)

giving it the sort of charge time and range as a gasoline vehicle

Stop and think for a second, or do some math, because electric cars will *never* 'fill up' as fast as a chemically powered car. Instead of pouring in gasoline, imagine that gasoline powering a flamethrower which you point into your gas tank, and you'll have a better grasp of what it means to transfer energy directly (as in electricity) versus high density potential (like gas).

Assume your electric car needs only 20 horsepower to maintain 60 mph.
One horsepower is about 750 watts, assuming perfect efficiency.
That's 15 kilowatts to keep the car going 60 mph.
To make the numbers easy, figure 300 mile range. That means you need to drive for 5 hours.
5 hours times 15 kilowatts is 75 kilowatt-hours.
Now let's assume the 'electric station' supplies electricity to charge your car at 500 volts.
75000 watt-hours divided by 500 volts equals 150 amps.
For an hour. Assuming perfect charging.
To get to a 3 minute charge time (one twentieth of an hour) you need 20x the amperage, or 3000 amps.

To carry 3000 amps of current for 3 minutes without melting insulation, my numbers show you'd need copper wire about 2.5 inches in diameter (and you'd still get a temperature rise of 90 degrees farenheit over ambient). And note to electricians who may think the numbers are off, don't forget you're charging with DC voltage, not AC, so you're gonna need about 5000 circular mils worth of wire.

I cannot imagine Joe Average plugging TWO wires, each of which is thicker than his wrist, into his car for a 3 minute recharge.

And yeah, you could drop it to 300 amps, but then you're talking 5000 volts.

So basically... you're never, ever going to see a 'gas station' for electric cars. They'll always be charged for long periods at home, or at 'charging garages'.

Re:Dupe (2, Insightful)

JonathanR (852748) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064432)

So basically... you're never, ever going to see a 'gas station' for electric cars. They'll always be charged for long periods at home, or at 'charging garages'.
Which wouldn't really matter too much, since most people (who commute) will leave their car parked someplace for an extended period. For lengthy car trips, a trailer-mounted fossil-fuel powered generator could supplement the battery charge, and be available on a hire basis.

Re:Dupe (1)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064592)

You won't see a trailer with a running generator and fuel supply on it like you describe, as it would kill efficiency and be inconvenient. Much simpler to just rent a gas powered car. However, I'm guessing that soon there'll be hybrids with a low power (10 HP), constant RPM (max 2500 RPM) diesel generator on board. Park the hybrid and let the engine keep running to charge the battery pack. Full battery pack plus 7500 watts of generating capacity would amount to about a 500 mile range, and allow you to recharge anywhere that isn't an enclosed space, or slow charge overnight from an outlet.

Re:Dupe (5, Insightful)

fadir (522518) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064600)

Maybe you take the wrong approach to "charge" a car.

What about standard, pre-charged batteries that you simply swap at the "gas" station instead of really charging the car? This way the whole process can be done in the same amount of time than filling up gasoline.
This is not even to complicated. You more or less rent the battery from the respective company and return it when it's empty (just to exchange it for a fully charged one).

The "gas" station has all the time in the world to charge the empty batteries, replace/repair faulty ones, etc.

Isn't that a more logical (and much safer) solution to the problem?

Re:Dupe (1)

mprinkey (1434) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065000)

The analogous situation currently exists with small propane tanks for gas grills, etc. There are dozens of places that have racks of these ready to swap with your old one. I think this is an excellent business model. Each location will need to an inventory of batteries that is equal to the peak turn-over rate times the recharge time plus a bit of a cushion. The trick is getting automakers first to build electric cars at all and second to agree on a standard battery module.

Re:Dupe (4, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065010)

Your numbers are a bit off. The Tesla roadster quotes a range of 356km on 54kWh.

If you use 1000 V , 4 parallel plugs, a 100A charging current, that gives you 66kWh in 10 minutes. 100A is doable with AWG 1 ( 7.35mm ), and most of the time you wouldn't be charging from empty anyway, so something like 6 minutes is more reasonable. Of course, this is only necessary if you need to take a pit stop during a long journey, most people would probably just charge it at home over night.

Re:Dupe (1)

FroBugg (24957) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065046)

This is why plug-in hybrids are our best real hope.

Something like the upcoming Chevy Volt does it even better than the plug-in modded Priuses available now. It uses its gasoline motor only to charge the batteries, and thus runs far more efficiently than a motor that sometimes pushes the car.

It requires absolutely no change in our gasoline delivery infrastructure (unlike hydrogen), but would require an increase in electricity generation to take advantage of the plug-in aspect for daily use.

Also, once we get a handle on cheap cellulosic ethanol we can use our existing gasoline delivery infrastructure to give them a carbon-neutral fuel.

Re:Dupe (1)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065056)

You are correct in that it will take a heck of a lot of electrical energy and a lot of time to charge these batteries.

One work-around is to make the batteries easily swappable, like you drive in, the battery drops down, like dropping your gas tank, and a newly charged battery pops up. Could be done in ten seconds, much faster than filling your gas tank.

Re:Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22065066)

Stop and think for a second, or do some math, because electric cars will *never* 'fill up' as fast as a chemically powered car.

Note the recent development of the supercapacitor [wikipedia.org] , which will allow electric cars to fill up just as fast as a gasoline powered car does now.

Just because chemical batteries are slow, this doesn't mean electricity MUST be slow. It simply means battery technology needs a lot of work, and thus, a lot of work has been done.

Re:Dupe (1)

sgt101 (120604) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065134)

Or, alternatively, you could lease the batteries from the manufacturer who will then support the energy distribution retailers (Shell, BP, ect) in swapping them in and out of your car.

So, you roll up, pop your cell out, it validates against your account and is collected in a bin.

A recharged cell is placed near enough to your car for you to connect it, or alternatively it's clipped into your car by machines. I guess that will depend on the weight of the component.

You pay, you drive off.

Your old cell is recharged, if it is near failure it is disposed of and a new one drawn down from stores. If not the recharged cell is (48hrs later?) provisioned to another customer at the "gas station".

So... it's not a problem, at all.

Re:Dupe (1)

iserlohn (49556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065292)

What you say is true only for batteries specifically, not for electric cars in general. There's nothing stopping you from changing the electrolyte or the battery itself. In fact, it's been done before... in 1907 - http://www.economist.com/printedition/displaystory.cfm?story_id=9719105 [economist.com]

Re:Dupe (1)

ErikZ (55491) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065712)

So you're saying that the method of putting gas into the car gas tank doesn't translate well into putting electricity into a car battery.

Shock. Surprise.

New method, off the top of my head. Docking stations for cars. Since you don't have a gas powered engine in the front of the car any more, you can put the connector up there. You align up with the power supply plug in the wall and move the car forward into it.

To fix your high amperage/voltage/wire thickness problems, just put in 20 leads, and directly wire them to specific groups of batteries. 300 amps divided by 20 is 15 amps, and 250 volts. Ta da.

And that's with 20. Make the standard connection have more and it becomes even easier.

What's wrong with high voltage anyway? (I'm more familiar with the effects of AC high voltage over DC)

Re:Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22065730)

The "gas" stations can just replace the batteries which can be done faster than filling the tank.

Sure you can make electric filling stations. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065814)

But you don't use "filling stations" under an electric scenario the way you use them with gas. The only reason I'd ever set out on road trip with less than a full tank of gas is because it's more convenient to gas up on the highway than before I get on the highway. If the opposite were true, I'd always started gassed up. If, for example, I had a gas pump at my house, I'd always start full.

If my "gas" is electricity I do have pump at my house. True, if I were completely discharged it might take me ten hours to top off, but that's only going to happen if I'm taking a cross country trip, where I run into problems if I want to travel more than the maximum range of the battery before plugging in. Supposing the range of my vehicle is 350 miles, I could easily make it from New York to Washington DC (230 miles), but I'd just miss being able to go from LA to San Francico (381).

Now, for the LA to San Francisco trip, I don't really need to top off all the way to full to get there. If electricity is available everywhere, in homes, motels, even parking garages, I don't drive around with one eye on the gas tank and the other looking for a gas station. If I can get to my destination, I can plug in. Even parking meters could be "pumps", simultaneously charging you for you fill up and parking time. In short, you'd never really think about where the next gas station is in city driving.

So on my LA to SF trip of 381 miles, when I pull into a highway "filling station" I'm not looking to charge up from 50 miles of range to 350; I only need to go from 50 to 100 (to be conservative). Furthermore, since this is a six hour drive, let's say that adding fifteen minutes for a fill up and a cup of coffee is not unreasonable. Using your figures, we're talking 1/7 the energy in five times the time, so 85 amps at 500v would do.

Of course, what I'd like to see is rapid "recharging" by simply swapping batteries. This could be done robotically in seconds, if batteries were designed to be quick swapped like cassettes.

The reason I'd like to see this is that it makes worrying about the state of your battery, particularly recycling the battery, a non-issue. The trick is that the batteries would have to be, in essence, leased, probably from a single entity. When you roll up to a filling station, it's either because you're on a long trip, or the battery you have is getting flaky. The robot pops the old battery cassette out, puts a fresh on in, and puts the old battery in the recharge queue. The battery has a computer on it, so you get a credit for the remaining energy. If the battery's performance has been decaying, the energy in the battery is extracted an its kicked out into a recycling queue. The battery is picked up by the owner, taken apart and reconditioned into a "like new" battery.

The main problem with this scenario is that battery technology is going to be an important focus of innovation for the next couple of decades. But in the long run this creates a system that is not just more convenient than gasoline in most situations (which a charge anywhere scenario would be), but nearly completely hassle free.

Used batteries (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065534)

I think your point about continued use of batteries after they are no longer transportation grade is very important. This model is already being commercialized using Tesla Motors' batteries. I estimate here [blogspot.com] that these used batteries would provide storage of about a half a day's worth of our total generation if our transporation sector were converted to plug in hybrids. With a 45% wind, 45% solar and 10% hydro grid, this would be most or all of the storage we would need. This would allow us to concentrate on the power sources with the highest EROEI [blogspot.com] and thus increase prosperity as oil depletes.

Re:Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22063050)

I always knew the Energizer Bunny was stuffed with nanowires. The little rascal.

Re:Dupe (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22063072)

Just wait until /. gets nanotech and goes grey goo on us. CowboyNeal will turn the whole world into a dupe!

Good deal (2, Interesting)

alshithead (981606) | more than 6 years ago | (#22062952)

Now, if we can see the same kind of improvements in electricity transmission, solar power electricity generation, and larger scale electricity storage, we might be able to really reduce fossil based fuels and CO2 emissions.

Re:Good deal (5, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063184)

solar power electricity generation


No , please, stop right there. Here, let me put it into perspective for you:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:World_energy_usage_width_chart.svg [wikipedia.org]

For those too lazy to follow the link.
World energy consumption:
Oil: 37%
Coal: 25%
Gas: 23%
Nuclear: 6%
Biomass: 4%
Hydro: 3%
Solar heat: 0.5%
Wind: 0.3%
Geothermal: 0.2%
Biofuels: 0.2%
Photovoltaics: 0.02%

WORLDWIDE photovoltaic production is about 13GW. A single nuclear reactor or coal fired powerplant can produce 1-2 GW. Solar couldn't even power a tiny european country with populations of a few millions. Let alone China, India, the US, Russia etc ... Even if you doubled worldwide solar cell output every five years, you would have to keep up such an exponential growth for 50 years just to replace 20% of our CURRENT energy demand. As China and India industrialize this will increase.

The most probable ways to reduce CO2 emissions from our energy generation are:
-Carbon capture and storage
-Expanding Nuclear power
-Increased use of Gas in place of Coal ( gas contains a lot of hydrogen and hence emits less CO2 per kwH than does coal ).

Ironically these are all measures which are fiercely opposed by Greenpeace et al, who instead want us to hope that wind and solar will save the day. At present production wind, solar and solar heat taken together produce about 0.82% of worldwide energy. To avoid a 2 C increase in global average temperature we need substantial cuts in CO2 emissions before 2050. Does anybody SERIOUSLY believe that photovoltaic / wind is up to the job?

I mean for the love of god, electric cars are great in that they could let us use Nuclear power or plants equipped with carbon capture technology, but they will not be solar powered. Not within the foreseeable future at least.

Re:Good deal (4, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063312)

Since when does "what we have now" imply "what we'll have with the radical technology improvements that are presently occurring"? You do realize that not only are solar thermal prices dropping, but there have been some *major* advancements in the economics of photovoltaic systems. Silicon cells are typically profitable to sell at $4/W (and are currently selling at $5/W because of supply shortages). CIGS cells are profitable at $1/W. This is a major, major leap that'd make solar cheaper than coal almost everywhere in the world.

Let's look at Nanosolar as an example. Their first plant, when at full capacity, will make them one of the biggest solar producers in the world (430 MW/year if I recall correctly). But this is just their first plant. Selling cells that are profitable at $1/W at nearly $5/W means they'll be profiting hand over fist, which means that investors will fight for the chance to throw money at them. How long do you think it'll take them to scale up with essentially unlimited venture capital? I'm betting not very long. They built their current facility with $100M raised just a year and a half ago, and they've already delivered their first product. Given that most of that money had to go toward simply commercializing their laboratory-scale process, what sort of capacity do you think they could pull off with, say, the next $1B in cash? Dozens of GW/year? And Nanosolar is just one CIGS manufacturer among many. And there's CdTe, too. Unmet demand begs for a market solution. It's inevitable that it's going to be filled.

Longer term, here's a crazy new tech for you to chew on: nanoantenna solar cells [inl.gov] . A completely different process than conventional cells, which use photons to knock electrons off a donor, these new cells are simply designed to receive solar energy in the same way that a larger antenna receives the several-orders-of-magnitude-longer wave radio signals. They should be able to be produced on a cheap reel-to-reel process like CIGS cells, yet they have the potential to be as much as 80% efficient, even receiving the infrared that the Earth emits at night.

Re:Good deal (4, Informative)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063510)

Let's look at Nanosolar as an example. Their first plant, when at full capacity, will make them one of the biggest solar producers in the world (430 MW/year if I recall correctly). But this is just their first plant. Selling cells that are profitable at $1/W at nearly $5/W means they'll be profiting hand over fist, which means that investors will fight for the chance to throw money at them. How long do you think it'll take them to scale up with essentially unlimited venture capital? I'm betting not very long. They built their current facility with $100M raised just a year and a half ago, and they've already delivered their first product. Given that most of that money had to go toward simply commercializing their laboratory-scale process, what sort of capacity do you think they could pull off with, say, the next $1B in cash? Dozens of GW/year? And Nanosolar is just one CIGS manufacturer among many. And there's CdTe, too. Unmet demand begs for a market solution. It's inevitable that it's going to be filled.


First of all, Nanosolar HOPES to make the cells at $1/W, they are nowhere near that cheap yet, and this is the price their marketing department HOPES to achieve. Secondly, that is the price for the cells without factoring in energy storage devices, energy conversion systems, servicing etc ... Thirdly, it is the price under optimal conditions, with perfectly aligned cells. In any real applications they will only be optimally aligned for a small part of the day, unless you intend to use expensive devices to track solar motion. They are also relying on indium, an element which is thought to become scarce due to increasing demand, and of course, mass-deployment of indium based solar cells would certainly push the price up. Finally, even if they were able to start producing these at competitive costs and at a large rate, you still have the problem that you will have to increase solar photovoltaic output by a factor of 1000 just to reach 20% of current energy demand.

With most of nuclear reactors built in the west ending their licensing in about 2030 - 2040, Oil running low and gas prices rising due to low demand, it seems likely that nations will turn to coal. This effectively implies you will either have to do carbon capture and storage or start building nuclear plants very soon unless you want to have your greenhouse gas emissions rocket due to massive deployments of coal plants. To think that solar will replace Coal, Oil, Gas AND nuclear within 30-40 years amidst the east rapidly increasing the energy intensity of their economies, is wishful thinking at best.

But no, we're going to gamble on some hypothetical solar breakthrough. Despite the fact that no realistic way to overcome the problems with intermittent supply, that they don't produce energy at night, diffuse and limited output, as well as the high price, having been demonstrated. If you think the press release about what one heavily subsidized solar company "hopes to achieve" negates any of my arguments, then I'd say you are naive at best.

As for nano-antenna solar cells, again, you are talking several decades of development at the very least. They won't save us from the energy gap that is likely to occur within 20-30 years, and they only deal with the costs incurred by the cells themselves, they don't address the cost of storing and converting the energy.

Re:Good deal (4, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063674)

First of all, Nanosolar HOPES to make the cells at $1/W, they are nowhere near that cheap yet, and this is the price their marketing department HOPES to achieve.

And your information comes from? Nowhere, that's where, because they're not sold on the open market yet, so claims like "they are nowhere near that cheap yet" are complete BS. All of their capacity is currently going to a German municipal plant. Secondly, all of the CIGS companies are giving numbers in the same ballpark, as are the CdTe companies.

Secondly, that is the price for the cells without factoring in energy storage devices, energy conversion systems, servicing etc

Duh. That's part of a general solar economics calculation. Only an idiot would just multiply $1/W times the desired number of watts. A large, batteryless installation in Anchorage, AK of nanosolar cells gets a 30 year IRR of 7-8% [daughtersoftiresias.org] . In Las Vegas, it's more like 13-14%.

Thirdly, it is the price under optimal conditions, with perfectly aligned cells. (and on, and on...)

(Dragnet theme)Duh, duh duh duh. Duh, duh duh duh, duh!(/Dragnet theme)

Do you think we're idiots? What's next? "Third, the cells only produce power when the sun is visible. Fourth, you need to have wires to conduct the power. Fifth, you need "humans", who can use the power...."

They are also relying on indium, an element which is thought to become scarce due to increasing demand, and of course, mass-deployment of indium based solar cells would certainly push the price up.

Indium is more common than silver, is easier to recover than silver (because of its close interrelationship with zinc ores), and CIGS cells use a miniscule amount of it (nanoscale-thickness coatings). Indium's current high price is more related to a lack of demand for it before LCD TVs started using it in bulk; this led to a few of the world's only indium recovery circuits shutting down without new circuits replacing them at other mines. It's not a problem [indium.com] . It only takes a few years to ramp up production.

Finally, even if they were able to start producing these at competitive costs and at a large rate, you still have the problem that you will have to increase solar photovoltaic output by a factor of 1000 just to reach 20% of current energy demand.

Huh? Did you ignore my post, above, where it already addressed this?

With most of nuclear reactors built in the west ending their licensing in about 2030 - 2040, Oil running low and gas prices rising due to low demand

Whaa? For one, nuclear is making a serious comeback in the US. Two, oil is not running low. Light sweet crude is, but light sweet crude != world petroleum production capability. Venezuelan super heavy crude and Canadian bitumen syncrude are taking off. Third, the demand for gasoline has been rising constantly year to year. Are you confusing the annual demand fluctuations with year to year growth in consumption? Demand is always lowest in the winter, highest in the summer.

[quote]But no, we're going to gamble on some hypothetical solar breakthrough.[/quote]

Hypothetical? Yeah, about two dozen companies, some of which have been selling them in smaller volume for years, is "hypothetical". What's next -- are CFLs hypothetical as well?

[quote]Despite the fact that no realistic way to overcome the problems with intermittent supply, that they don't produce energy at night, diffuse and limited output, as well as the high price, having been demonstrated.[/quote]

In the pacific northwest, and to a lesser degree the west coast as a whole, energy storage is a non-issue. The west relies a lot on hydro power, and hydro pairs perfectly with solar (it already has a low capacity factor, so there's no additional economic cost to the hydro producers). Even in the east, solar alone with no storage can eliminate the peak draw production requirements and allow usage that had been displaced to off-peak times to occur during the day (something most industries would greatly appreciate). Even if you want to use solar for everything, most pricing I've seen for bulk energy storage is about 4c/kWh to the consumer. With solar this cheap, that's affordable.

As for nano-antenna solar cells, again, you are talking several decades of development at the very least.

Of course, you know more than the authors of the study, who say "a few years". Few years, several decades, what's the difference?

They won't save us from the energy gap that is likely to occur within 20-30 years

There's absolutely no risk of an "energy gap". The world has huge amounts of energy resources of dozens of kinds available. The "worst case scenario" is dirty energy, not no energy.

Re:Good deal (2, Insightful)

olman (127310) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064840)

Even if you want to use solar for everything, most pricing I've seen for bulk energy storage is about 4c/kWh to the consumer. With solar this cheap, that's affordable.

On what exactly? Hot air?

We do not have very good ways of storing energy. Battery technology sucks balls, especially on industrial grade. Sure, you could use the energy to make methanol for example and burn that later but that's not terribly efficient process. Growin plants and all that. Hydrogen has a nasty habit of evaporating through solid steel. Flyweels are right out for GWh class storage as well.

Have you factored in the costs of powering regions which do not get much sunlight during winter months and/or do not have sunny weather in general? Are we shipping pressurized hydrogen on megatankers now?

You take a $/W number that everyone knows is unrealistic unless you've got orbital solar panel exposed to sunlight 24/7 in hard vacuum. Then you go and compare the cost directly with coal that's guaranteed power when you need it at a known, stable efficiency. That's cute. Or intellectually dishonest. One of the two.

 

Re:Good deal (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063702)

You missed the parent's point. While his numbers for Nanosolar were off, they've already sold out their first year of production. And they're going to sell out the next two years of production very quickly. Once they bring up a new factory, production speed is only going to increase.

Re:Good deal (4, Informative)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064112)

First of all, Nanosolar HOPES to make the cells at $1/W, they are nowhere near that cheap yet, and this is the price their marketing department HOPES to achieve

Minor information injection here:
Nanosolar _is_ making solar 'sheets' now... no wishful thinking involved.
They've contracted with a German company who has ordered roughly 600 megawatts worth of sheets ....at.... drumroll please..... 90 cents per watt.

The sheets will be mounted in panels in a factory near Berlin, and used in Germany, which because of favorable laws requiring utilities to buy back power from customers, is experiencing a HUGE demand for renewable energy sources for the homeowner.

Re:Good deal (1)

msevior (145103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064752)

Minor information injection here:
Nanosolar _is_ making solar 'sheets' now... no wishful thinking involved.
They've contracted with a German company who has ordered roughly 600 megawatts worth of sheets ....at.... drumroll please..... 90 cents per watt.


Do you have a reference for this? It is very interesting news.

Re:Good deal (1)

Martian_Kyo (1161137) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065190)

I used google to search for result (I refuse to use google as a verb) and came up with this: http://www.celsias.com/2007/12/23/nanosolar-update-first-panels-now-shipping [celsias.com]

Re:Good deal (1)

msevior (145103) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065322)

While it may well cost Nanoslar 90 cents per watt to make these panels, I don't think they would sell them too far under the current commercial price of $4-$5 per watt. If there is demand at $4 why sell them for $1?

In any case this is incredibly good news. If they can make 430 MW of product per year at $4 million per MW from a $100 million dollar facility, that gives them well over $1 Billion per year to expand production. So in 2011 they may have 10 plants in full operation and another 100 under construction or ramping up. This has the potential to become very big, very fast.

Re:Good deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22063700)

On the other hand, what we have now is what we have now. The USA is rich in uranium, as is most of the world, I imagine. We could completly eliminate coal as a source of electricity, and switch to nuclear until such time as renewable sources become viable. I am skeptical that solar power will ever become viable for all our needs though. Consider, 3/4 of the earth surface is covered in water, roughly 10% of that land is suitable for solar arrays, and even with 100% efficent tech, it's unlikely that you will have more than 90% capture, due to weather. Factor in the daylight cycle, and the curve of the earth, and you're begining to see just how rarely you can capture a kilowat with one square meter and one hour.

Once you get into space however, it's a whole new ballgame.

Re:Good deal (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063668)

You're aware Texas is on it's way to be generating almost 23,000GW (yeah, you read that correctly) in the next 3 years. Wind and solar are indeed up to the task.

Re:Good deal (2, Interesting)

Eivind (15695) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063732)

As these things go though, "doubling every 5 years" is not ambitious at all, infact that is very VERY conservative and much less than the increase in production of PV currently taking place. It is, afterall, less than 15% of growth a year.

The IEA PV trends report from 2003 estimated 20% growth a year for the next decade, but has since been revised upwards. Current trend is looking more like 25% growth in area produced year, which gives somewhat more than that in power generated because average efficiencies are climbing (allbeit slowly).

Furthermore, increased awareness and interest in global warming is likely to lead to increased incentives and consumer-interest, so I personally think the trend is more likely to grow rather than stall. My guess would be 30% growth a year for the next decade, which is aproximately double your estimate. This is also ignoring HEAT from the sun, which is currently at about half a percent of our energy-needs and *also* growing rapidly.

Still, you're right: Neither solar nor any other renewable can singlehandedly solve the problem in the next 20 years timeframe. They can contribute, particularily when many and diverse ones are used, but they can't alone solve the problem.

Proven tech can do a lot though. Did you know that if USA where as efficient measured in GDP/Energy-consumed as Sweden is, you'd be consuming -half- the energy you currently do ? That's not rocket science, that's what Sweden does -TODAY- (and Sweden is improving too!)

We're going to need more than -one- answer; if it was easy, it woulda been done a long time ago.

Re:Good deal (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063938)

Here's another way to think of the problem:

How many trees do you have to burn to get enough energy to MAKE a wind-powered generator or a PV cell?

How many trees does it take to smelt uranium and build a nuclear power plant?

How about a hydroelectric dam? These are things we will need energy to make. Does a PV cell result in a net energy gain if you account for how much it took to make one? Starting with the mining processes....all the way up to installation on your roof.

These are serious questions, because our grandkids will likely have nothing but bushes to burn for fuel. Kinda hard to make anodes, batteries, PV farms, etc once we've SUV'ed our resources away. Sort of like how hard it is to get into a phone booth with a spear in your chest...but that's another story.

Re:Good deal (2, Interesting)

Zeinfeld (263942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065860)

How about a hydroelectric dam? These are things we will need energy to make. Does a PV cell result in a net energy gain if you account for how much it took to make one? Starting with the mining processes....all the way up to installation on your roof. Its called energy accounting. My Father was doing it for ICI in the 1970s after the first oil shock. My wife now works for a consulting company that provides that type of data.

The energy input required to make solar panels is one of the major concerns in the design process, particularly for anyone proposing cheap methods.

Cheap, long lasting battery systems plus low cost, efficient photovoltaics would allow a large amount of residential electricity use to be met by solar. Just panel every south facing roof. At the moment the cost is high, but the intrinsic cost of manufacture is rather less.

Re:Good deal (1)

srussell (39342) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064812)

-Expanding Nuclear power
Aww, no, see... I saw a chart just like the one you linked to from 1910, and the percentage of Nuclear power used in the world was 0%. By your logic, this means that Nuclear power is utterly impractical and won't be able to produce enough energy for a small country, much less the world.

Or did the fact that increasing the use of photovoltaics will consequently increase the percentages of photovoltaics on that chart escape you? What, exactly, did you think that that graph proved, other than current world use? Potential?

--- SER

10x more... (1)

thekm (622569) | more than 6 years ago | (#22062960)

...this mean we also get 10x the lipo explosion?

Re:10x more... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22062992)

Yes

Why can't Barack Obama be President? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22062964)

Why can't Barack Obama be President?

Because two niggers and two quarters don't add up to a dollar.

Sony (2, Funny)

calebt3 (1098475) | more than 6 years ago | (#22062988)

This is Sony's way of making a military-grade exploding battery.

You were beaten to it (3, Funny)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063988)

During the Falklands "war", it was discovered that the British Ministry of Defence had managed to supply the Army with radios that used rechargeable batteries, but no battery chargers below brigade level.* The Army was reduced to using heliographs on some occasions.

After the event, there were several studies of what to do about it. One suggestion was to make available lithium batteries as an alternative. The cells proposed were really quite big. After a few interesting incidents in testing, one of which had an engineer cowering behind a filing cabinet screaming "get that wire away from that thing", one REME officer suggested that with a simple piece of spring loaded steel, the cells could find an alternative use as emergency grenade substitutes. (Disappointingly, the actual solution proposed was to fit an internal fuse.)

Given the energy density of this proposal, a simple micro-Sterling generator driven by sticks of dynamite might be safer in the briefcase.

*The Ministry of Defence is kind of like the Pentagon, but without the competence.

Poop (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22063026)

Poop:)

How is parent offtopic? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22063572)

I don't get that moderation at all.

Save an additional 50% power (1)

enoz (1181117) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063048)

... by publishing [slashdot.org] the story half as many times?

Save even more power by not marking this as redundant?

Lets Experiment (1)

Exile1 (746114) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063106)

Ok, in one month lets repost this article, and see if we can go for a triple post.

Re:Lets Experiment (1)

TimSSG (1068536) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063158)

We are not going for "triple post" we are supposed to try for first post. Tim S

Re:Lets Experiment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22063244)

Triple post? Or 1000x improvement in battery life?

Hurray! (1)

Zekasu (1059298) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063144)

Now I can have 10x the explosion in my Dell laptop!

But will it explode 10X more powerful ? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063240)

Lithium Ion battery does explode. A Lithium Ion battery that is 10X as powerful, or last 10X as long ... now, will it explode 10X more powerful ?

Please give that a thought, shall we ?

Re:But will it explode 10X more powerful ? (3, Interesting)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063378)

Very briefly put, no. The explosive nature of lithium batteries has very little to do with the electric energy stored in them. If the electric energy stored in a battery was even remotely close to the amount of energy released by burning the chemicals they are composed of, then we would all be driving electric cars by now. In fact, more modern lithium batteries are less prone to explode because they have lower internal resistance, so they don't heat up as much when discharged. I keep seeing this fallacy about energy content vs explosive danger when people discuss batteries, but it is frankly nonsense. Many high-power explosives don't produce a whole lot of heat when they detonate, it is the rapid shock-wave that gives them their destructive power. Conversely, regular butter contains enough energy to drive your car on it, but it is quite tricky to ignite and hence fairly safe.

Anyway, poorly manufactured Lithium batteries are dangerous because they ignite easily. It has very little to do with their energy content.

Re:But will it explode 10X more powerful ? (3, Insightful)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063838)

The Wikipedia article on Energy Density [wikipedia.org] lists the energy density of lithium batteries with nanowires at about 6MJ/kg and the energy density of TNT at about 4MJ/kg. And unlike butter or gasoline or some other things, I think the lithium battery has the oxidizer in the package (though maybe not right in the molecule like TNT). I don't think they're going to let you take many of these on the plane with you.

Correct - a bit of amplification (3, Informative)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064966)

The whole principle of operation of storage batteries is to separate charge by oxidising at one pole and reducing at the other, thus the larger the electrical storage per unit volume, the greater the available chemical energy. When the poles are connected, the oxidiser is reduced and the reducer is oxidised back again, in such a way that the exchanged electrons pass along a wire outside the battery rather than directly between the reagents internally. Replying to the GP, the lower the internal resistance, the closer the reagents must be together and the more rapid their reaction, since this is how the battery discharges. Any internal short will allow a potentially more catastrophic reaction, since more current will be generated. It is true as per the GP that butter has a high energy density but is quite safe. Now mix that butter with the correct quantity of powdered oxidiser - say powdered potassium chlorate - and you have, basically, home made blasting explosive. You are not comparing like with like. I wonder who the GP works for?(It's probably illegal to write this posting from the UK, but, Gordon, are you going to lock up everybody who knows a bit of basic chemistry?)

Re:Correct - a bit of amplification (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065690)

Any internal short will allow a potentially more catastrophic reaction, since more current will be generated.


Not if the heat from that current is insufficient to cause further energy release. Thus the activation energy of the reaction is also important. Also, it is NOT the Lithium that is being oxidized/reduced during normal operation in a LiCoO2 cell, but the Co ions. The argument about energy density vs damage potential would be true if it was only the ions being reduced/oxidized present, and if their reaction with the atmosphere released negliable energy. However, you also have to take structural materials into consideration as well as the operating environment. If I would make a Li-ion battery with the same chemistry as before, but used metallic sodium alloyed with mercury for the casing, and operated the thing under water, then I think you would agree that the energy stored in the battery isn't necessarily the main problem?

When you discuss battery safety you need to consider not just the redox reaction, but other possible reactions that can occur between the electrolyte, andode/cathode, what happens if the battery leaks, how does the electrolyte react with air, how easily heat is dissipated through the material etc ... There isn't any particular reason why you couldn't make a perfectly safe battery with very high energy density, and in fact, many developments of Li based batteries are substantially safer while simultaneously having higher power density. Li-polymer is one example. Nano Titanate is another.

As for butter, sure if you TRY to make an explosive out of it, you can get one, that doesn't stop our bodies from recovering the energy in a far more benign manner. If anything this just proves my point. The same energy storage system ( fat ) can have vastly different safety performance depending on HOW you oxidize it. Mix it with sodium nitrate and set it on fire in an oxygen rich atmosphere and you get a spectacular fire. If you instead use some organic enzymes to dissolve it in a salt solution and send it through an advanced cascade of reactions to produce ATP, then you would have difficulties to burn yourself with it if you tried.

Re:But will it explode 10X more powerful ? (1)

MikeTheMan (944825) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065894)

Who needs gas when you can power your car with exploding batteries? Hmm? That's right, no one. And now our energy problems are forever solved.

OK... (3, Funny)

All Names Have Been (629775) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063386)

"...There are no roadblocks for either of these."

So quit with the jibber-jabber and make with the 50 hour laptop battery.

Re:OK... (1)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065276)

It'll never happen, at least in the US.

There's TSA limits on the amount of lithium that can be in a battery. Using nanowires to hold more lithium will get you a bigger, yet far more dangerous battery you can't bring anywhere.

Its not so good in cars either, given how dangerous lithium ion batteries are. I'd rather have a RTG or a box of dynamite in my car.

Supersonic Tesla (1)

Cur8or (1220818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063414)

Electric cars will now be able to go 10 times as far or 10 times as fast. I vote for a 0 to 60 Mph in 0.25 seconds Tesla.

Re:Supersonic Tesla (2, Interesting)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063922)

At an average acceleration of just over 11G, you'd likely only ever do that 0-60 one time, before crashing uncontrollably after losing consciousness :P

Re:Supersonic Tesla (1)

Cur8or (1220818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064006)

In my mind I kind of saw a lot of burning rubber, but very little movement. Maybe with some fatter tires the inevitable traction issues could be mitigated.

Re:Supersonic Tesla (1)

kcbanner (929309) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064170)

All we need to do is use some of the energy to get to 88mph, and divert the rest into the flux capacitor.

Blackouts (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064522)

"I vote for a 0 to 60 Mph in 0.25 seconds Tesla."

To avoid blackouts it should also come with a pair of pressurised pants like jet pilots use (preferably with room for an adult diaper).

Re:Supersonic Tesla (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065588)

But it should also have the brakes from the 2008 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500KR. You know, for those times when you really need to go from 300 to 0 mph in less than 12 feet.

Am I the only one getting sick of this? (5, Insightful)

Caspian (99221) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063470)

This technology sounds wonderful. I'd absolutely adore batteries to last ten times longer than they do at present. It would be amazing... imagine 20 or 30 hours of 'real life' battery life on a laptop instead of 2-3 hours. However, I'm really getting tired of stories on Slashdot that basically can be summarised as "Scientists promise [amazing product] using [amazing technology]". Nanotech, nuclear fusion, genetic engineering, micro-scale fission power plants, exotic materials... whatever. You know what? I'm sick of reading stories about theoretically possible things that might (but probably won't) make it into an actual product some time in the near future.

Slashdot ought to have a section for "navel-gazing scientific speculation". Seriously, this sort of "we can make [x] perform [10, 100, 1000...] times better!" bullshit belongs right alongside the "in [10, 20, 50] years, everyone will be in flying cars!" type of crap which has filled Scientific American for, well, forever.

It's 2008. We still don't have flying cars, practical nuclear fusion, fission-powered cars, or multi-petabyte holographic storage devices. In the real world, advances in technology are usually incremental and evolutionary in nature, or a serious tradeoff at best (As an example, the move underway from platter-based hard drives to solid-state hard drives, while revolutionary in nature, involves massive tradeoffs in price-per-gigabyte which are only slowly lessening). It took CD technology a decade or two to give way to a successor with 10 times the storage capacity (dual-layer DVD-R), and making bits smaller is (arguably) a lot easier than increasing energy density (barring the use of nuclear technology or other exotic things which-- again-- isn't realistically going to happen any time soon).

So where's the "NotGonnaHappen" tag?

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (2, Interesting)

giorgist (1208992) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063748)

Hey hey lighten up. This is news for nerds. If you want to read about things that are on the market, go read ebay. It does get frustrating, but be critical and enjoy NEWS. Things are not simply evolutionary, things are changing increadably fast on the big picture. Step back and look just a couple of ago. The difference is evident. Each technology/science front is moving forward pretty fast. And all together are starting to tie in ... look at MEMS ... 2GB USB sticks for a couple of bucks, all the music and human knowlege in your pocket, supercomputing/navigating phones, genome Vs History. All this comes to you care of Slashdot ... plus ponies ... pink ones ... what more do you want G

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (1)

Rei (128717) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063750)

You can learn the caveats to each tech if you're willing to do the research. In this case, the first caveat is cycle life. They want to get 1000 cycles out of it, and think they'll be able to. But if they can only get a dozen or cycles, this tech is dead in the water. If they can get 1000 cycles, they'll almost certainly be flooded with venture capital for commercializing it (or make a fortune selling it to an established company). Either way, commercialization will be attempted. Then there will be a set of new milestones for how commercialization is going -- facility construction, purity standards for the components, nanowire quality standards, anode standards, whole cell standards, whole cell lifecycle testing, and so forth. It could fail on any one of those, although the odds for any given one are low. All in all, if it gets to the commercialization phase, I'd give them one in two, one in three odds of being successful. If they're successful, given that this is just an anode advancement, we're only talking about a "severalfold" improvement in energy density (likely with fast charge time to go along with it). It's still be a huge revolution, however.

Stay tuned. The results from lifespan testing should be published some time this summer.

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (4, Insightful)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063850)

It's 2008. We still don't have flying cars, practical nuclear fusion, fission-powered cars, or multi-petabyte holographic storage devices. In the real world, advances in technology are usually incremental and evolutionary in nature, or a serious tradeoff at best (As an example, the move underway from platter-based hard drives to solid-state hard drives, while revolutionary in nature, involves massive tradeoffs in price-per-gigabyte which are only slowly lessening). It took CD technology a decade or two to give way to a successor with 10 times the storage capacity (dual-layer DVD-R), and making bits smaller is (arguably) a lot easier than increasing energy density (barring the use of nuclear technology or other exotic things which-- again-- isn't realistically going to happen any time soon).

It's 2008. We have extremely safe cars. We have practical, efficient nuclear fission (both for peaceful and weapons uses). We have the ability to store 1TB of data on a drive the size of a small cigar box. And don't forget that I can communicate from one side of the world to the other instantly either via fiber or satellite.

True, we don't have earth-shattering technologies occur overnight (you point this out as well, that research takes time). But if you've noticed, the pace of research and breakthroughs has been increasing over the last 30-40 years. Different technologies build on each other. Faster microprocessors allow us to build hybrid cards and space vehicles. Genetic engineering opens a whole new world in biology.

What I'm trying to get at is, don't be so pessimistic. This battery technology can and will be developed quickly. It's because we have few other practical options.

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (1)

Badgam (1219056) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064830)

Developing the ability to produce these technologies is an important advance, because it shows that it is possible to bring it to market, and I'm pretty sure the sheer demand for improvements in battery life will ensure this technology makes it in the near future. The thing is, the main reason why flying cars and fusion power didn't take off is because they're either very difficult, very expensive, or impractical under current conditions. It has nothing to do with the failure of technology to advance quickly, it has to do with the fact that flying cars were an all-around terrible idea and fusion power was far more difficult and far more expensive to achieve than originally estimated. I mean, if you look beyond flying cars and see all of the other, far more important and world-changing predictions that came right, you'll see that "It's going to happen" is far, far more common than "It's not going to happen"...the optimists have won every single time because the pessimists were inherently unwilling to accept that new disruptive technologies emerge on to the market all the time. The death of many companies hinged on the fact that their leadership did not move to take advantage of new technology. I'd rather be on the side that says "it can happen" and be wrong than the side that says "it can't happen" and be wrong, because the forward-looking model can always bounce back and look for the next potential innovation while the latter will either fall behind and become obsolete or be forced to adopt the technology...except they won't be the ones selling it, they'll be the ones buying it from the company whose foresight allowed them to take over the market. And look at it this way: all things equal, we'll have our cheap multi-petabyte devices in 2020. And that's assuming doubling time doesn't speed up, which is pretty unlikely given the amount of money being poured in to it to deal with ever-increasing volumes of data.

We have extremely safe cars (1)

Grampaw Willie (631616) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064838)

Ha!

yer cars are loaded with demolition charges

these are placed to insure that your car is totaled in the event of a minor accident

this is so tha the insurance company can part our your car and give you a screw-job settlement and make money on car accidents

the safety argument is a pretext for this scam: a good seat belt is all that is needed

when the demolition charges blew in my wife's Saturn it turned a $2000 collission into a totla wreck. in addition the charge broke the bones controlling the thumb in her right hand resulting in a monster medical bill and 8 weeks in a cast

Re:We have extremely safe cars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22064926)

Wtf are you talking about? Is this your way of renaming airbags?

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (1)

donatzsky (91033) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065920)

Faster microprocessors allow us to build hybrid cards

So you're saying that I can have both an Ace of Spades and Diamonds on the same card? Neat.

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (4, Funny)

mw22 (908270) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063896)

So where's the "NotGonnaHappen" tag?
That's not going to happen.

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (4, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063904)

It's 2008. We still don't have flying cars, practical nuclear fusion, fission-powered cars, or multi-petabyte holographic storage devices. In the real world, advances in technology are usually incremental and evolutionary in nature, or a serious tradeoff at best (As an example, the move underway from platter-based hard drives to solid-state hard drives, while revolutionary in nature, involves massive tradeoffs in price-per-gigabyte which are only slowly lessening). It took CD technology a decade or two to give way to a successor with 10 times the storage capacity (dual-layer DVD-R), and making bits smaller is (arguably) a lot easier than increasing energy density (barring the use of nuclear technology or other exotic things which-- again-- isn't realistically going to happen any time soon).

Flying cars don't need flying drivers, they need driving pilots. There are about 650,000 pilots in the United States with a certificate of Private Pilot or better. (the minimum license necessary to take more than 1 passenger in a flying vehicle) Compared to the population of 300 MILLION people, and you find that there are an awful few people who could "drive" a flying car. You find the economics of scale that will work at this level. Certainly, Detroit won't. Flying isn't the same as driving. There are no roads, and you have to pay careful attention to long-established procedures designed to avoid situations like running out of gas. (a minor inconvenience in a car, potentially fatal in a plane if you aren't well trained to handle it) I hate to diss flying, since I'm a pilot by hobby, and I love my hobby. But the requirements to pilot are significantly greater than the requirements to drive.

Nuclear Fusion is widely available. Look up. (you have to go outside to see it - it's called the "sun") As a source for electricity, it's coming at prices comparable to coal [slashdot.org] which is the cheapest non-renewable form of energy today in the USA.

Data storages has generally followed Moore's law, with a doubling time of about 18 months. What more do you want? I remember when a 100 MB HDD was big. Now, a little over 2 decades later, I routinely transfer files bigger than that all around the world via the Internet, and save to a flash disk the size of my thumb that requires no external power source, while my LAPTOP hard disk is 2,500 MB in size. I won't highlight my workstation/home-server with > 3 TB of storage.

Amazing!

Try using a 10 year old computer sometime. You'll be amazed at just how far we've really come.

And, technology is advancing on ALL fronts.

I recently added on to my home, doubling its size. Along with that came new regulations for insulation, higher-efficiency heating/cooling unit, insulation, double-paned windows, etc. I DOUBLED the size of my home, but my heating/cooling bill is about HALF what it used to be. Progress? Suffice it to say that the money I'm saving on my utility bill easily beats the monthly cost of the financed retrofit upgrades to my original home! In other words: it would be cheaper to buy the upgrades to an existing 100 year old home to get these improvements than to keep using whatever you had in the first place.

I drive a 10 year-old Saturn. It gets 30 MPG fully loaded at 90 MPH, quietly, with air conditioning, decent radio, and air bags. Back in the 1980s, I drove a VW diesel Rabbit that did about the same at the same speed. It was noisy, shook lots, had an AM-only radio, and didn't have A/C. Relative prices (inflation adjusted) makes the Saturn CHEAPER than the VW Rabbit. Hello progress ?!?

I use CFL lights throughout my home. Over their lifetimes, they are cheaper than incandescents in replacement costs alone, and 5 of these things use less electricity than a SINGLE incandescent bulb. I can light up my whole house for what it used to cost to turn on the porch light. I've banished incandescents from my home. And, I'm still not particularly good at turning off the lights. At 1/5 the cost, why should I care? My utility bills are still reduced by 1/3.

Now back to flying cars... Recently, a company called "Thielert" has come out with a Diesel engine that burns Jet fuel. They sell these as retrofit replacement engines for common Cessna aircraft, and use Jet fuel instead of AvGas (similar to auto gas). A Cessna 172, fitted with a Thielert diesel engine experiences a nearly 50% drop in fuel use, and flies faster at altitudes over 5,000 feet. (most distance flying) Jet fuel is cheaper than AvGas. They have greater range, and can also fly considerably higher than the original Cessna, because the diesel engine is turbocharged. Lastly, AvGas is leaded fuel, while Jet Fuel isn't. So it's better for the environment, too. So you go faster, higher, further, cheaper, cleaner.

Sounds like advance to me.

And you'd be blind to miss these advances. So where's the "Clueless Dolt" tag?

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (1)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064078)

Where's the "proves his point" tag?

Slow, predictable advances in efficiency? Yawn. That's exactly the kind of "incremental and evolutionary" advances he spoke of. Meh. When did technology become so boring?

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (1)

tehdaemon (753808) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064328)

It has ALWAYS been this boring.

Actually, it is usually much more boring than this.

Can you come up with a time when it has been less boring?

T

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22065544)

"Try using a 10 year old computer sometime. You'll be amazed at just how far we've really come."

Bad Analogy.

Guess you're not using AMD:-P.
My AMD 950mhz is still in daily use and not painfully slow for most casual use. What is really amazing is how much longer the new computers take to boot.

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22065622)

You had a 950mhz AMD processor in 1998? Whoa, how did they/you manage that?

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065268)

The problem of the "flying car" is not technological, it's economic and societal. We already have Piper Cubs, Cessnas and so on.

Given the cost of energy, do you really want to pay for the cost to fly a flying car? I don't think energy is going to get any cheaper over the next century. Just the gas to fly a single prop aircraft is $45/hr, not counting all the other maintenance costs, and the craft can only go about twice as fast as legal highway speed. Do you really want to deal with sky rage?

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (1)

mgblst (80109) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065432)

You know, for stories I am not interested in, I generally ignore them by not clicking on the link.

Look some people want to hear what research is going on, what is at the cutting edge. These are things we don't hear about in the normal media. If you just want product deliveries, wait around for the Macworld or CES discussions.

Re:Am I the only one getting sick of this? (2, Interesting)

nmg196 (184961) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065952)

Point accepted, but some technologies DO come to market and work out OK in the end.

1. I would never have believed when I was at university exactly ten years ago, that in 2008, I would have a more powerful processor in my *telephone* than I had in my desktop computer I took to uni to study Computer Science with.
2. I would never have believed ten years ago that I could get 4 GIGABYTES of non-volatile memory in something the same size as my little fingernail (MicroSD) for a few pounds off eBay.
3. I also bet my colleague about 3 years ago that you would NOT be able to ever run your computer from any kind of solid state hard disk until at least 2010. I lost the bet - I assumed the OS and data would get bigger faster than solid state storage would increase in size, but 64GB SSD drives are now affordable and would easily take all my files on any of my computers.
4. We can access the Internet in the lounge, park or coffee shop at multi-megabit speeds, often for free. 10 years ago MOST people had never even heard of "broadband" and I was paying £20 per month for Demon DIAL UP at 28.8K. If you'd said that someone could get 2-8Mbit internet over shitty copper phone lines from a mile away, they'd have laughed. At the time I was struggling to make a 10Mbit work just within the confines of our office. Now our office as a 20MBit internet connection just a few years later. When I graduated from Uni in '99 (CompSci) our entire halls of residence (over 100 people) was connected back to the uni with one 64Kbit leased line - which cost the uni nearly £2000 per month. Now they have 100Mb broadband in every room connected to the uni using a laser.

I doubt MOST people would have believed any of these things would be possible in only 8-10 years - even on slashdot but sometimes it just does happen.

On the other hand there are some other surprises. If you expand the old graphs of PC processor clock speeds, we should have 12GHz CPUs now, but we don't. Clock speeds stopped increasing about 4 years ago. Processors are still faster due to architectural changes, faster bus speeds and more cores, but clock speeds are exactly the same if not slower than they were a few years back. My 4 year old desktop has a FASTER clock speed (2.4GHz P4) than my brand new more expensive desktop (2.2Ghz Core 2 Duo).

Old News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22063520)

This was on engadget a while ago... Nothing has changed since then.
It seems like a bad idea to go public with the technology when you have no real business plan.
You can't really patent silicon, or nanowires. I'll bet Duracel and Energizer already have their own working models at this point.

Never mind the knee-jerk "We've heard this before" (2, Insightful)

mmell (832646) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063528)

(although we have heard this before)

Nano-technology . . . last I heard, not the easiest stuff to engineer in. Nope - can't find too many qualified workers on street-corners. 'quipment ain't at the local machine shop.

Erm, even if this isn't just another load of vapor, just how much will these things cost? and how do you mass-produce 'em?

Oh, and we've heard this whole "new technology discovered which promises blah." We didn't need to hear it twice.

Why graphite? (1)

drwho (4190) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063596)

Why is graphite used as an anode material? What does it offer ? I was just reading some cool articles on how to make electricity from sewage ( http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/MicrobialFuelCells/ [yahoo.com] ) and thinking this. I read articles where they similarly talk about little 'whiskers' or cilia that bacteria have in relation to this sewage-to-voltage idea and wonder if it's all related somehow.

Yea, I am starting to turn into a biochemistry hacker. Just imagine what my basement will smell like now...ha ha ha

could increase the availability of solar and wind (2, Insightful)

FriedmannSolution5 (950021) | more than 6 years ago | (#22063754)

http://www.solarnetwork.net/ [solarnetwork.net] is an app that hopes for this - but bigger and cheaper storage would help with the intermittent nature of these 2 power sources. does anyone think that affordable battery capacity could increases the way hard drive capacity did over the last 10 years? 1997 I think I was installing 8GB drives in a machine maybe? maybe even 4GB drives for laptops? Today it's easily 10 times that size on average.

YES!V fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22064050)

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Storing more danger? (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064240)

As that technique stores a lot more energy in the same volume, I would imagine that a lot more energy will come out if something goes wrong with the battery.

This could get interesting later..

Hmm... (1)

vegiVamp (518171) | more than 6 years ago | (#22064950)

Silicone-based batteries, eh ?

*clamps starter cables on wife's nipples*

Erm... Why does it suddenly say 'silicon' ? *starts running, HARD*

Interview with Dr. Cui (2, Interesting)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 6 years ago | (#22065040)

Interview with Dr. Cui, here [gm-volt.com] .
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