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Transportation IBM Power Hardware

Electric Car Nano-Batteries Aim For 500-Mile Range 650

Posted by samzenpus
from the big-things-in-small-packages dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Consortium members read like a Who's Who in technology research for the Battery 500 Project which aims to use nanotechnology to extend the range of all-electric cars 200 miles beyond the 300-mile range of gasoline powered cars. IBM, the University of California at Berkeley and all five of our US National Labs are collaborating to make the 500-mile electric car battery. Within two years, they promise to have a new kind of battery technology in place for the 500-mile electric car. If that happens, then I predict a mass exodus from gasoline to electric powered cars that will make the Toyota Prius look like a fad."
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Electric Car Nano-Batteries Aim For 500 Mile Range

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  • by polar red (215081) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:27AM (#29602175)

    how about witching batteries ?
    http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/better-place-unveils-battery-swap-station/ [nytimes.com]
    that's a battery swapping station, like a fuel station, except you don't have to leave the car, and it is faster.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:30AM (#29602187)

    In order to replace the ICE (Internal Combustion Engine,) charge time needs to drop to less than 10 minutes. With recharging stations nearly as common as gas stations.

    Batteries aren't going to do that. Supercapacitors will. (Or some yet-to-be-invented technology.)

  • Whose-Who? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Macgrrl (762836) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:40AM (#29602247)

    I don't know to whom it belongs, but traditionally the directorty of notable identities is known as Who's Who [wikipedia.org].

  • by bovination (1591857) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:55AM (#29602329)
    "the gasoline nozzle pumps 3 MEGAWATTS of energy into your gas tank in 2 minutes" Do you mean WATTS or JOULES? Don't know the difference? Then please don't post on technical issues.
  • by garyisabusyguy (732330) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @01:55AM (#29602339)
    sounds like fud from the days when people tried to introduce a clean burning hydrogen engine... Remember the Hindenburg!
  • Re:300-mile range? (Score:2, Informative)

    by johnw (3725) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @02:06AM (#29602403)

    My Peugeot 405 Estate gets over 600 miles from a tank - over 700 if you're on a long run. Admittedly it doesn't use anything as outmoded as petrol.

  • by dna_(c)(tm)(r) (618003) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @02:16AM (#29602447)
    32MJ/l * 50l/(2*3600s) = 222kW aren't SI units wonderful? Transferring an amount of energy per time unit is the definition of power - and it is relevant. A normal electrical socket provides only ~1% of that value, they need to solve that too.
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @02:28AM (#29602493)

    a few more notes. the 30KW figure for the honda is based on air resistance not engine efficiency. So unless you are prepared to lie flat in a coffin shaped car, your pretty much stuck with the crossection of a Honda as the minimum useful car. Thus there's no way to beat that power demand by more than a small percentage let alone a factor of even 2.

    You might suppose then that service stations will instead swap battery packs. But that does not really solve the problem well. At any moment a filling station might have 5 cars trying to fill up every 5 minutes. (probably even more in some stations) so no matter how you slice it, you need the filling station to be delivering 5*3.6= 18 megawatts of juice. (assuming perfect efficiency which won't happen).

    This is huge problem that will require massive infrastructure changes to achieve.

  • by mcrbids (148650) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @02:31AM (#29602505) Journal

    And a normal petrol tank is also a bomb.

    Gasoline is only explosive under very specific circumstances. That's why cars have exotic hardware like carburettors and multi port fuel injection systems - to get the exact mix of gasoline and air that will ignite with the biggest bang.

    Gasoline BURNS quite readily, but except for an initial "whoosh", it's not particularly explosive. In a sealed container it won't burn at all.

  • Re:It's not news (Score:5, Informative)

    by 0x15 (852429) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @02:31AM (#29602509)
    Exactly right. A 'statement of direction'. In fact, the poster should have read the article. IBM states that they should know in 2 years whether lithium-air technology will work or not. They didn't state a battery would be ready at that time.
  • Re:Already A Fad (Score:2, Informative)

    by the_humeister (922869) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @02:49AM (#29602597)

    Since no one's responded, let me be the first to say that you have absolutely no clue what you're talking about. Why you were modded up I'll never understand.

    A Prius, in capable hands, is able to get in excess of 80 mpg. In not so capable hands it's still getting in the 40-50 mpg range. For lead foots it's still high 30s mpg. I know a guy who's a complete lead foot in his Prius (ie WOT almost all the time in the city, way over the speed limit on the highway, etc), and he still manages to get 40 mpg.

    A Prius works by trading faster-running efficiency for slower-running efficiency - i.e. it moves the optimal efficiency point from about 55mph down to about 20mph, and adds a bit of regenerative braking. Big deal. It's still very, very inefficient.

    Absolutely false. If you're talking about the absolute highest MPG you'll ever get, then every single car right now will get better mileage at 20 mph than at 55 mph. Hell, I can easily get over 50 mpg at an average speed of 20 mph on my 5-speed MkV Jetta. However, the Prius is the most fuel efficient vehicle at each speed point from 1 mph to 100+ mph compared to any other car on the market. That's because at lower speeds, the car's computer turns off the engine until needed. The ICE has late intake valve closure (aka Atkinsonized cams), which makes the engine more fuel efficient. This, coupled with a more aerodynamic shape than most other cars makes the Prius more fuel efficient on the highway as well.

  • Re:300-mile range? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Gordonjcp (186804) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @03:26AM (#29602743) Homepage

    1988 Citroën CX 22TRS, 17 gallon tank, 475 mile range and over 500 if I drive gently. This is a carb=fed contact-breaker ignition 1970s-era engine design, 2.2 litres and 115bhp. I used to get 32mpg for over 500 miles range but something's a little sick under the bonnet.

    2008 Mercedes Vito 111 van, around 17 gallon tank, over 500 mile range, 116bhp diesel in a medium-size panel van. Again, about 30mpg.

    It's worth noting that these are UK gallons, so 20 US gallons.

  • Re:Already A Fad (Score:3, Informative)

    by jrumney (197329) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @03:48AM (#29602825) Homepage

    the Prius is the most fuel efficient vehicle at each speed point from 1 mph to 100+ mph compared to any other car on the market.

    Except the Honda Insight and a number of 1.4 and 1.5 litre diesel engined small cars from Renault and Citroen.

  • Re:Already A Fad (Score:3, Informative)

    by inviolet (797804) <[slashdot] [at] [ideasmatter.org]> on Thursday October 01, 2009 @03:52AM (#29602843) Journal

    [Prius is greenwash.]

    Absolutely false. If you're talking about the absolute highest MPG you'll ever get, then every single car right now will get better mileage at 20 mph than at 55 mph. Hell, I can easily get over 50 mpg at an average speed of 20 mph on my 5-speed MkV Jetta.

    Wrong. ICEs get better fuel economy in the vicinity of 50 mpg, just before drag becomes a major factor. See e.g. this chart [wikipedia.org].

    However, the Prius is the most fuel efficient vehicle at each speed point from 1 mph to 100+ mph compared to any other car on the market. That's because at lower speeds, the car's computer turns off the engine until needed.

    Wrong. Turning off the ICE does not modify the car's tires' rolling resistance, or its air drag, or the (often substantial) load imposed by climate controls. The only reason that the ICE is not 'needed' instantaneously, is because the Prius is draining its batteries instead, and those must eventually be recharged by running the ICE. They could have easily given the Prius a very small gasoline engine, strictly for running a generator, which would run all the time.

    The advantage of the Prius is that it can run its ICE at an optimal speed, rather than the constantly-changing speeds (many of which are sub-optimal) of a traditional car.

    The ICE has late intake valve closure (aka Atkinsonized cams), which makes the engine more fuel efficient. This, coupled with a more aerodynamic shape than most other cars makes the Prius more fuel efficient on the highway as well.

    Wrong. Read up on electronic valve-trains (e.g. BMW), or variable valve-timing by advancing or lagging the timing chain (e.g. Toyota's VVTI).

  • by keean (824435) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:07AM (#29602895)
    Faster than a V8 Jaguar XK, (0-60 under 5 seconds), 500+ bhp, 188 mile range (not bad for a sports car), recharge in _10_minutes_ http://www.lightningcarcompany.co.uk/home.php [lightningc...pany.co.uk]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @04:46AM (#29603089)

    Gasoline is only explosive under very specific circumstances.

    Those being "setting light to the vapour".

  • by bovination (1591857) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:22AM (#29603451)

    *sigh*

    I wasn't commenting on whether the figures were correct, just that the poster was measuring the wrong thing. Joules are a unit of energy, Watts measure the rate of energy. Yes, I know the difference.

    The original poster's statement was meaningless. Read it carefully.

    Watts, Joules, Volts and Amps are not just interchangable terms which mean 'energy stuff'. If people don't know what they mean, they should stick to Crystal Therapy.

    Go ahead mod me 'troll', I don't care. I'm sick of New Age Science masquerading as the real thing.

  • by smoker2 (750216) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @06:23AM (#29603455) Homepage Journal
    No it doesn't. Take a beer bottle, fill it 3/4 full with petrol, insert a rag to act as stopper and fuse. Light fuse. Throw in such a way that it breaks on impact. The impact breaks the glass showering the surrounding area with petrol which is then ignited by the fuse. It doesn't explode, it spreads fire. (see also Molotov Cocktail)
  • Re:It's not news (Score:3, Informative)

    by MtViewGuy (197597) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:37AM (#29603825)

    Right now, it costs me around US$32 to fill up completely the 11 gallon tank on my 1998 Honda Civic HX CVT coupe with 87-octane unleaded.

    My guess is that by 2020, a full charge from a commercial charger will probably cost US$20 in 2009 dollars--not bad considering the high cost of a fillup nowadays, especially if you have a bigger car.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2009 @07:52AM (#29603909)

    Yeah, but many states in the US have a self-inflicted embargo on nuclear power plants. First, get Exxon and Texaco off from the governing positions so these embargos are lifted, then you coulds have cheap nuclear power. But for now, you're stuck with your crappy coal and natural gas power plants.

    Here in Quebec, we use Hydroelectricity, a clean, high potential and renewable energy.

  • by slinks (1627039) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:19AM (#29604101)
    nuclear plants have issues in the summer when it is too hot for their cooling towers to works. also when there are droughts. but out side that, good stuff
  • by hazydave (96747) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:28AM (#29604197)

    Hydrogen holds some promise, but it's questionable right now. It's green to burn (or otherwise use) Hydrogen, just as it's green to use electricity. Both have the same original problem, though... you can't mine or otherwise locate sources of hydrogen anymore than you can do so with electricity. H2 is just a chemical answer for the battery.

    Now, what you left out.. the big piece... is how that H2 is converted to electricity. Are you buring it, or feeding a fuel cell? The Fuel Cell is great idea... over 65% efficient, no "burning", thus, few if any pollutants (you would still have NO2 and other pollutants burning H2). We've been making these for a long time to power spacecraft... but they have the budget for it. Traditional fuel cells use lots of Platinum... same problems as large BEVs... no one wants to spend $150,000 on an economy car. Newer designs with engineered materials are promising, but there's more work to do. H2 storage is another issue... compressed gas is a hazard and also limited in capacity, while chemical storage (very similar to a NiMh battery) is higher density, but the cells wear out.

    And you still want this to be a hybrid... a fuel cell likes to deliver a steady power output, it's not surgey at all.

    Then there's the production of the H2... where does it come from? Like electricity, you can make it many ways... like, from electricity mixed with water to release H2 and O2. But that's not terribly efficient. You can make it from petroleum products, or from alchols, but there are also efficiency issues. In fact, very similar to those of the battery EV world.

    And there's also the infrastructure problem. H2 refueling might be faster than electric recharging (it is now... it won't necessarily always be). Power distribution would ultimately have to be beefed up to support a BEV infrastructure, but it does exist today. H2 is non-existant... no one's building fueling stations unless they're in on the experiment.

  • Re:It's not news (Score:5, Informative)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @08:40AM (#29604291) Homepage Journal

    In my area, gas is currently $2.50/gallon. Filling up with 10 gallons would be $25, and in a 30mpg vehicle would get you 300 miles. End cost is 8.3 cents a mile.

    Meanwhile the Tesla Roadster* has a 53 kWh battery that would cost $5.30 or less in my area to fill up, at home. Could be as low as $2.65 if you make some deals with the power company and have the charger on a circuit they can turn off when electrical demand is high. Per the wiki, it can go 244 miles on that charge. That gives me 2.17 cents per mile.

    Basically divide your gas bill by four in order to figure out how much an EV would save you in gas money**.

    Right now the difficulty isn't so much the range or lifespan of the battery, it's the COST. If the batteries were 1/10th their current price, we'd be driving EVs today.

    *I know it's too expensive, but it's the best known commercial EV.
    **Assuming your driving habits are compatible.

  • Re:It's not news (Score:3, Informative)

    by CecilPL (1258010) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:06AM (#29606075)
    Did you mean moot [reference.com]?

    Sorry, pet peeve.
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Thursday October 01, 2009 @11:24AM (#29606341) Journal

    Nuclear.

    Comparatively cheap per megawatt, and per megawatt, the most enviromentally friendly power source we've yet discovered.

    At least in SyFy books. In real life however the actual evidence points to a net energy deficit when the entire fuel cycle is taken into account. But for some reason as soon as someone says something good about nuclear power on slashdot they instantly get modded up. I simply don't understand why there is a collective drop in IQ when the available scientific *evidence* and an examination of the legal and political constructs demonstrate statements like these are complete fantasy. So lets examine them;

    Comparatively cheap per megawatt

    Operative word "Comparatively", but what about some institutional assesments?

    Standard and Poor's assessment of the Nuclear industry's financial viability "the industry's legacy of cost growth, technological problems, cumbersome political and regulatory oversight, and the newer risks brought about by competition and terrorism keep credit risk too high for even federal legislation that provides loan guarantees to overcome"

    an assessment supported by Britain's Royal Institute of International Affairs "even with an explicit tax on carbon-based power generation, new nuclear power plants cannot be economical without government subsidies"

    The breakdown of U.S energy research and development reported by the US DOE is roughly 60% for nuclear, 25% to fossil fuels and 15% to SUSTAINABLE energy sources. In addition to what I mentioned above you can add the 2005 U.S energy bill which provided another $13 billion dollars worth of subsidies, revocation of the Public Utilities Holding Company Act (PUHCA) which was put into law in 1935 to stop a re-occurrence of the 1929 stock market crash. The Price-Anderson Act to underwrite the Nuclear industry with $600 Billion of Taxpayer money and closer to a trillion if you factor the huge amount of land you are going to lose in the event of an actual accident.

    Half a billion dollars worth of subsidies for procuring companies (i.e oil companies) proposing "pre-approved" reactor designs, even if they don't build it, and a 1.8 cent per kilowatt hour tax credit if they do. The reality is if the Nuclear power industry was forced to cover it's own liability and fund itself it would cease to exist. I could go on and on but the bottom line is how can America, of all countries, continue to justify this form of corporate welfare?

    the most enviromentally friendly power source we've yet discovered.

    Ok, lets look at radioactive isotope emissions only. Over the entire industrial process radioactive isotope emissions are inevitable. Here are the *authorised* effluents not the accidents.

    Mine tailing: radioactive mine tailings from open cut mining where ever it has occurred, radon 220, radium 226, thorium etc.

    Enrichment: U-238 or DU. Used as weapon projectile, is pyrophoric and burns into a radioactive powder. Groundwater contamination from leaking Hexafluoride tanks [wikipedia.org]

    Reactor facility: tritium, iodine 131, xenon 141, 143, 144, cerium 141, 143, 144, tritium, tritium and tritium AND Noble Gasses Which Decay Into More Dangerous Daughter Products (Xenon 137, Krypton 90, rubidium 90, strontium 90, Xenon 135, xenon 133, krypton 85, Argon 39). Of course no epidemiological studies have been performed on the noble gas venting which are released hourly from *all* Nuclear reactors. (did I mention tritium) 4000 gallons of primary coolant water PER DAY containing plutonium 238,239,241, technetium 99, iodine 129, carbon 14 and *ahem* tritium which is highly mutagenic once it's in the foodchain.

    Reactor decommissioning: cobalt 60, iron 55, nickel 63.

    Radioactive Waste: Plutonium, Strontium 90, Iodine 131, Cesium 137 and on and on

  • by BlueParrot (965239) on Friday October 02, 2009 @12:29AM (#29613893)

    In real life however the actual evidence points to a net energy deficit when the entire fuel cycle is taken into account.

    This is how far I read because if you seriously think Nuclear power ends up in an energy deficit you are either completely ignorant about the subject, your sources are rubbish, or you are deliberately lieing ( or possibly a combination of the three ).

    To give a slight idea of just how much energy is released in a nuclear reactor, the main limit of a reactor's power rating is how high temperatures the construction materials and cooling system can cope with. The reaction itself is limited only by the temperature at which the ceramic fuel rods and steel cladding melts, and at any time the fuel present in a large reactor contains more energy than entire countries consume in a year. If that is not enough to convince you, consider that the energy bound in chemical molecules like gas or petroleum is measured in electron volt, while the energy released in a fission reaction is hundreds of millions of electron volt.

    Or put another way, one atom of uranium when fissioned will release an amount of energy equivalent to hundreds of millions of molecules of conventional fuel. Even if you take the fuel that has the highest chemical energy/weight ratio there is ( hydrogen ) it still releases only 1.53eV per atomic weight unit, while uranium fission is closer to a million eV per atomic weight unit.

    For nuclear power to end up on an energy deficit the energy needed to extract, refine, burn and dispose it would have to be hundreds of millions times larger ( per atom counted ) than the energy needed to extract and refine conventional fuels. Now I accept that handling, mining, burning and disposing uranium and the waste products may be more involved than say coal. I'll even let you say 100 times more energy intensive, or heck why not say 10.000 times just for the hell of it, lets even assume coal is used 100% efficiently, and that only 1% of uranium is burned. You would still have THREE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE to account for.

    Really it is hard to grasp the energy released in nuclear reactions. A few kilograms would be enough to turn an entire city to ash, a couple of metric tonnes correspond to entire nations' annual energy consumption. Even though most reactors today only burn about 5% of it the amount much power you can tap from it is limited only by how much energy the cooling system can safely transport away, and the energy content is enough that a reactor can run for years without refueling.

  • by BlueParrot (965239) on Friday October 02, 2009 @12:51AM (#29613979)

    What part of "tritium which is highly mutagenic once it's in the foodchain" didn't you understand?

    The part where it is chemically equivalent to hydrogen and hence rapidly dissolves and disperses in water, quickly being diluted to lower than background levels. In addition the very low energy of the beta radiation it emits, it's tendency to be ejected with urine or sweat if ingested ( as opposed to staying in the body ) the short half-life, the minuscule amount produced, and the lack of any major pathway into the food-chain that would not first dilute any release by many orders of magnitude.

    Honestly of all the elements in nuclear waste tritium is one of the more harmless ones. If you want to do scaremongering it's Iodine, Caesium, Strontium, Technetium and Neptunium you should harp about ( your arguments would still be rubbish of course, but those are the elements most likely to cause trouble ).

    I guess you don't know as much about nuclear power as you think you do. Leaks between primary and secondary cooling are commonplace.

    Good thing then that the secondary circuit is also a closed circuit that is heavily monitored for radioactivity. Seriously can you quote even a single incident where a dangerous amount of radioactive material was released through the secondary circuit ?

    What part of "the *authorised* effluents" did you not understand?

    I got news for you buddy. Your body fluids are radioactive, as is air, milk, ponies and everything else on the planet. If it is dangerous or not is not simply a matter of it containing something radioactive and being a lot of it. The concentration, chemical properties, decay constant, and concentration matters. It is physically impossible to do ANYTHING without releasing small amounts of radioactivity. Even the carbon dioxide in the air you exhale contains some C-14. The authorised emissions from nuclear power-plants are set sufficiently strict that if you lived next to one for 50 years you get just a couple of "banana units" equivalent of exposure ( the same amount as you would get from eating a few bananas ).

    I don't know if you are unaware of the serious flaws in your scaremongering, or if you do it deliberately, in either case you've quite clearly demonstrated that your claims are half-truths at the very best if not deliberately misleading.

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