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Tobacco Virus Could Boost Li Batteries 161

Posted by kdawson
from the no-smoking dept.
siliconbits alerts us to the possible use of one of the world's most destructive naturally occurring scourges, the tobacco mosaic virus, to boost the capacity of lithium ion batteries by 10 times. It seems the virus can be made to attach itself to the electrodes in a lithium cell perpendicularly, increasing the surface area of the electrode and greatly improving the battery's capacity to store energy. PhysOrg has some more detail on virus-enhanced batteries. Four years ago we discussed the use of the tobacco mosaic virus to enable fast-switching transistors.
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Tobacco Virus Could Boost Li Batteries

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  • That's what just happened to my mind.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 10, 2010 @01:12PM (#34515288)

    When you say "one of the world's most destructive naturally occurring scourges," are you referring to tobacco or the virus?

    Signed,
    to lazy to log in.

    • TMV affects many species, some of which are not as poisonous as tobacco like peppers...
    • Considering the frequency of dopamine-related mutations in humans that seem to require dopaminergic drugs for treatment (And our culture's current paralyzing fear of dopaminergics), it seems far too early to label tobacco a universal scourge.

      How many murders or confrontations in general have been prevented by a dose of nicotine? How many suicides prevented due to its acute antidepressant effects? It's very difficult to quantify nicotine's benefits, and its negative effects are much more visible.

      Not that I i

  • Perhaps The Diamond Age was a little off-target when talking about nanobot assembly of goods from pipelines of raw materials: programming biological viruses to build the structures you're looking for seems like it's becoming more and more viable than trying to purpose-build nanobots to do the same.

    This should also lay to rest some of the more vehement rhetoric about 'grey goo' disasters; if there were going to be a 'grey goo' scenario, bacteria would have done it aeons ago.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      we will probalby do that in the short term, then improve upon the technique so we don't need biologics.

      Your comment about grey goo is akin to saying:

      If there is going to be a nuclear explosion, uranium would of done it years ago.

    • This should also lay to rest some of the more vehement rhetoric about 'grey goo' disasters; if there were going to be a 'grey goo' scenario, bacteria would have done it aeons ago.

      Humans have created more "grey goo" than bacteria ever could. Don't underestimate us.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        Just FYI:

        Most of the cell contained in your body are bacteria. Yes, thats correct There is less of you then the bacteria you carry around.

        When taken by whimsy, Sometimes I think we evolved as a mechanize to efficiently move bacteria around.

  • by wealthychef (584778) on Friday December 10, 2010 @01:25PM (#34515418)

    Four years ago we discussed the use of the tobacco mosaic virus to enable fast-switching transistors.

    So where are the fast switching transistors? Does ANYTHING every come to fruition?

    • by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Friday December 10, 2010 @01:32PM (#34515468)

      Does ANYTHING every come to fruition?

      Not in this case, tobacco is a vegetable.

      • Botanically speaking, there is no such thing as a vegetable. What we call vegetables are really stems, leaves, flowers, and roots, and in fact some vegetables are fruits, such as squash.
        • by Belial6 (794905)
          Funny, the definition I have always heard was that vegetables ARE stems, leaves, flowers and roots that you eat. If you want to only go with textbook terms, there are no humans either, just homosapiens. So, squash was never a vegetable. Tomatoes are not vegetables either.
          • by idontgno (624372)

            Tomatoes are not vegetables either.

            Whereas Tomacco [wikipedia.org] is both. And delicious. Addictively, addictively, delicious. Well, ok, not delicious. Pretty disgusting. But addictively, addictively, disgusting. And probably susceptible to TMV, as well. Darn the luck.

          • Really, it depends on what way you're speaking. In a horticultural (applied plant science)/culinary sense, vegetables are plant parts usually used in savory food, typically annuals, regardless if what you eat is leaf, petiole, root, tuber, stem, flower head, bud, seed, fruit, ect. Botanically, pure plant science, it's true that the term vegetable has no meaning. Confusion can arise with things like tomatoes because the term fruit has different meanings; as a horticultural or culinary term, it is someth

    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland @ y a hoo.com> on Friday December 10, 2010 @01:34PM (#34515502) Homepage Journal

      No, nothing ever does. Which is sad because if it did then we could talk to each other over great distance using some sort of boxes.

  • by formfeed (703859) on Friday December 10, 2010 @01:34PM (#34515498)
    Cell phone users aren't welcome around my pepper plants.
  • My notebook batteries came pre-loaded with a virus!

  • Confused... (Score:4, Funny)

    by noidentity (188756) on Friday December 10, 2010 @01:45PM (#34515596)
    I'm confused, is this a bug or a feature? Could it be both at the same time?!?
  • 10-fold increase? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bored_engineer (951004) on Friday December 10, 2010 @01:49PM (#34515628)

    Gasoline has an energy density of about 34 MJ/L, while current Li-ion batteries have an energy density of around 0.7 MJ/L. If this comes to fruition, we'll have batteries with about 1/5th of the energy density of gasoline. That's quite amazing, in my opinion.

    What if that battery is pierced, though? I know that the Tesla rig uses a slew of small cells. Do other electric cars like the Volt or the Leaf do the same thing? It seems to me that a number of small cells might present less of a problem, though that would drive the energy density of a battery pack down.

    • Re:10-fold increase? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by greenskyx (609089) * on Friday December 10, 2010 @02:08PM (#34515802)
      It's especially good because electric vehicles are around 4x as efficient as internal combustion engines. The Leaf uses larger flat sheets of batteries to increase their ability to release excess heat.
  • by clone52431 (1805862) on Friday December 10, 2010 @02:10PM (#34515818)

    As I discovered, much to my consternation, after buying a Kodak digital camera which came with an included “Kodak lithium digital camera battery”:

    Lithium batteries are not rechargeable. Lithium ion batteries are.

    Big difference.

    • This article was headlined by KDAWSON. I think that we need to peer review all of the submissions that go in. Kinda like metamoderating.
  • With a battery like this, my Sprint EVO might last a full workday on a single charge!!!

  • "On average, one acre of tobacco can produce approximately 2,100 pounds of leaf tissue, yielding approximately one pound of TMV per pound of infected leaves," he explains.

    Those leaves are 100% TMV? Yuck!

    I think that should read '1 lb/ton'.

  • If you combine all the claims of new technologies that enable 10x the capacity for batteries, we should be seeing AA cells that can hold enough power to run the planet for a year.

    I'll believe it when I can buy it from Canadian Tire.

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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