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Power Portables Hardware

Nanotech Anode Promises 10X Battery Life 193

Posted by kdawson
from the all-day-laptop dept.
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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Nanotech Anode Promises 10X Battery Life

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  • Re:Dupe (Score:2, Informative)

    by Crypto Gnome (651401) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @01:29AM (#22062944) Homepage Journal
    You saw it.

    I saw it

    But clearly "they" did not see it, else "they" would not have submitted a dupe.
  • Re:Good deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:15AM (#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:Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rei (128717) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @02:45AM (#22063374) Homepage
    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:Good deal (Score:5, Informative)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @03:11AM (#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 (Score:5, Informative)

    by ThreeGigs (239452) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @05:03AM (#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.
  • by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:04AM (#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:Dupe (Score:5, Informative)

    by BlueParrot (965239) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @08:11AM (#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.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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