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Power Science

Researchers Predict Next-Gen Batteries Will Last 10 Times Longer (newatlas.com) 171

Lithium-metal electrodes could increase the storage capacity of batteries 10-fold, predict researchers at the University of Michigan, allowing electric cars to drive from New York to Denver without recharging. Using a $100 piece of technology, the team is now peeking inside charging batteries to study the formation of "dendrites," which consume liquid electrolytes and reduce capacity. Slashdot reader Eloking quotes New Atlas: Battery cells are normally tested through cycles of charge and discharge, testing the capacity and flow potential of the cells before being dissected. Dasgupta and his team...added a window to a lithium cell so that they could film the dendrites forming and deforming during charge and discharge cycles.
In a video interview they're reporting that dendrites can actually help a battery if they form a small, even "carpet" inside of the battery which "can keep more lithium in play." According to the article, "The future of lithium-ion batteries is limited, says University of Michigan researcher Neil Dasgupta, because the chemistry cannot be pushed much further than it already has. Next-generation lithium cells will likely use lithium air and lithium sulfur chemistries."
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Researchers Predict Next-Gen Batteries Will Last 10 Times Longer

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    This goes in a slashdot file with cures for cancer and efficient solar cells. And inexpensive housing for the poor.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      and invented in a flying car.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Rei ( 128717 )

      Yes, cue the standard "Batteries haven't advanced!" stuff from people carrying around cell phones with significantly more amp hours in a smaller battery profile than the last generation phones that they owned.

      News flash: every time a new tech advance makes it into a product, they don't mail a letter about it to everybody who read an article about it years earlier. Example: hey, remember all of that stuff about breakthroughs in silicon anodes several years back? Yeah, they're in batteries now. Even Tesla

      • I don't recall anyone here every saying batteries haven't advanced. They certainly have. More so in manufacturing tech than actual battery chemistry tech, but they go hand in hand. They key advancement has been bringing the price down on lithium ion batteries through advanced production methods that allow higher density. This the result of half a century of intense effort to keep improving them. There are limits to lithium ion though, its been around a long time and there hasn't been another technology yet
        • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

          It happens regularly.

          Quite a lot of my replies are asking people to stop doing it because it's ignorance, posturing or worse!

          Rgds

          Damon

        • I agree. Why, it used to be that you needed a laptop battery to cook a steak, and now a cell phone battery can do the same job! Plus, the fumes given off during the process give you food that certain something (as in "I'm certain this is toxic") which is tough to reproduce using fire from more mundane fuels...
      • by fisted ( 2295862 )

        Yes, cue the standard "Batteries haven't advanced!" stuff from people carrying around cell phones with significantly more amp hours in a smaller battery profile than the last generation phones that they owned.

        Well in the eyes of the average smartphone zombie, what has really happened is "cell phone battery life" plummeting. My Nokia brick lasted weeks (plural) even when the battery was years old. Earlier this year it finally broke, I replaced it with a smartphone which, depending on usage, has a battery that lasts something between half a day and three days. So what is the obvious conclusion to arrive at? Battery tech isn't improving. Can't really blame them for that.

      • It looks like TFS has this wrong though. Dendrites don't reduce a battery's capacity, but lifetime. Reducing the production of dendrites extends how long until the cell fails, which increases the total lifetime, not the capacity. This is good to make batteries that don't need to be replaced as often, which helps reduce the TCO of any battery powered device, including cars.

        Also, for those doubting what you say above, I find the best thing is to point them at the facts:

        https://www.quora.com/Is-it-tr... [quora.com]

        Batt

    • Oh no, it's all true, they just forgot to mention that they also burn ten times as intensely, and explode with a yield where you'd normally expect to find fission byproducts. Samsung are already prepping them for the upcoming Galaxy M67.
    • Stop predicting, start doing. Really getting annoyed with these fantasy prediction articles.
  • Progress! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Sunday October 23, 2016 @01:37PM (#53135113) Journal

    and Note 7 II's will explode 10x brighter.

    • Re:Progress! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Rei ( 128717 ) on Sunday October 23, 2016 @01:59PM (#53135217) Homepage

      Actually, that is a concern. Li-ion batteries don't have lithium metal in them unless something goes wrong. Lithium-air batteries always have lithium metal in them, by design.

      In practice, you'll probably see a bit of the energy density given up in order to beef up the casing to prevent rupture/fire.

      Thankfully, lithium-sulfur batteries don't use lithium metal, just lithium polysulfides. The max energy density isn't as high, but it's still quite good. They're already on the market, albeit in small quantities for applications that require the absolute highest rechargeable energy density (mainly aerospace).

    • Instead of exploding the first day you get your Note, it will explode day ten.
    • by SeaFox ( 739806 )

      I hear the military will be considering them for alternatives to the M84.

  • Oh Boy (Score:2, Funny)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 )

    10 times longer-lasting batteries? Given every other promised battery advancement over the last 50 years that hasn't come to fruition, we're going to be at infinite capacity batters when they all finally hit!

    • Re:Oh Boy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tsa ( 15680 ) on Sunday October 23, 2016 @02:21PM (#53135323) Homepage

      I remember when I was a young boy 40 years ago the batteries in my toys would last just an hour or so, and they would start to leak a very dirty brown liquid a few days after I had put them in my toys. Back then we hadn't even heard about rechargeable batteries, let alone Li-ion batteries. Nowadays I can play around with my Lego toys for a long time before my rechargeable, non-leaking batteries go flat. Li-ion batteries pack so much power into a small volume that they are able to explode all by themselves, or power a phone with the calculating capacities of a supercomputer from the 1990s for many hours on end. So reality doesn't support your claim that batteries haven't improved over the last 50 years.

      • Re:Oh Boy (Score:5, Informative)

        by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Sunday October 23, 2016 @02:34PM (#53135401) Homepage Journal
        Things simply use less power these days. Long gone are the times you needed 2x D batteries to power a flashlight.
        • Re:Oh Boy (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Wookie Monster ( 605020 ) on Sunday October 23, 2016 @02:53PM (#53135487)
          Batteries for Lego toys mostly power motors, not lights. Electric motor efficiency hasn't improved that much. 50 years ago, battery powered tools didn't exist at all because no battery could hold enough charge and still be portable.
          • Re:Oh Boy (Score:5, Informative)

            by chihowa ( 366380 ) on Sunday October 23, 2016 @04:45PM (#53135871)

            50 years ago, battery powered tools didn't exist at all because no battery could hold enough charge and still be portable.

            The first cordless electric drill [ecmag.com] was produced by Black and Decker in 1961, using NiCd batteries. That's 55 years ago.

            • by fnj ( 64210 )

              And it was utter CRAP. The NiCads had miserable energy capacity. Battery capacity started to plummet after the first cycle. There was no provision for balance charging the individual cells, or cutting off the discharge when one of the cells discharged before the others and was driven into destructive reverse charge. Memory effect was just awful. Self discharge rate was prodigious.

              • Current Li-ion batteries only have about twice the energy density of NiCds [batteryuniversity.com]. The reputation NiCds got for having lousy energy capacity was due to a memory effect. If you kept recharging the battery before it had been fully discharged, it "learned" the low charge state as its new zero state, and you lost that bottom portion of its capacity (due to crystalline growth).

                Rechargeable batteries have increased about 2x in energy density in the last half century, and about 3.5x in the last century (from lead-ac
                • The reputation NiCds got for having lousy energy capacity was due to a memory effect. If you kept recharging the battery before it had been fully discharged, it "learned" the low charge state as its new zero state, and you lost that bottom portion of its capacity (due to crystalline growth).

                  You mean voltage depression. And it's from overcharging. Easily reversed by discharging the cells individually. Memory effect is something else.

          • by tsa ( 15680 )

            That's exactly why I used the Lego example.

        • Things simply use less power these days. Long gone are the times you needed 2x D batteries to power a flashlight.

          No. Flashlights use less power these days. Kids electronic toys of 30-40 years ago either went duf duf duf (there few if any class-D amplifiers in toys, so they haven't increased in efficiency), or they went vreeeeeeeeeeeeeeuwwwww (and small DC motors powering moving toys haven't changed in efficiency in the best part of 50 years either). If you buy a little remote control car now you'll get the same 15minute run time as you did back then if you get a cheap one powered by AA or C cells.

          But test your theory.

      • I'm 47. When I was a young boy, regular alkaline batteries were pretty much the same as what we have now. I did see some cheap batteries leak, but those were the exception. Almost no one was using rechargeable batteries, that's true, but it was because we didn't care about the environment and found buying batteries and changing batteries more convenient. As an example, in 80s I bought a Sony Walkman F-601 which came with a rechargeable battery giving me about 10 hours of tape and 40 hours of radio, but I st

      • Bullshit. Nicads were prevalent in the 70s.

      • When you where a boy there where batteries in cars. The problem is in English you have not separate nouns for batteries who are rechargeable (akkumulator) and non rechargeable ones. However, they are different kinds if devices.

    • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

      Simply not true, see my earlier comment above.

  • by Feral Nerd ( 3929873 ) on Sunday October 23, 2016 @01:45PM (#53135141)
    If this pans out (have my doubts), even if the capacity is only increased five fold, there will be two kinds of car companies, those that go electric and those who go the way of camera manufacturers who bet on film cameras being the future and waited too long to go digital.
    • +300 km range and 30 minutes charge time is probably enough that most of us will be satisfied. So in my book we are already there. Now all that will need to improve is the price, and that will come down radically in the next few years as production quadrouples.

  • I've been seeing this unrelated thing for a long time (years) and maybe I should ask the question:
    Is it just me, or Asian / Indian names appear more often than Western names when this type of articles are published?
    By that, I mean "Researchers find/predict/invent/discover" articles.
    Disclaimer: I'm Romanian.

    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      Most electronics are made in the Far East, so I guess most battery research also goes on there.

  • I hear this story on and on from around 5 years. Nothing has emerged so far.

    • I think the technology exists (at least somewhere on this planet) but it's being held back to extract as much money as possible in the meantime on current technology. I have no direct evidence of this of course but when you think of what kinds of things humans can accomplish when they put their minds and copious amounts of funding toward it, you'd have to believe it's out there, even if only in a lab somewhere or in some military only role held in secret. This is going completely off topic (and I know I'll
  • Non-electric cars are simply more practical for most people not just because of range, but also charging time. Even Tesla Supercharger stations take way too long for most people to tolerate.

    But if you have 1000 miles of range, suddenly it's much more practical to live with a very long charging time because you can wait a day or two to find a good charging solution - plus it would mean you could get somewhere faster than with a gas vehicle since you wouldn't have to stop on a long trip to fill up.

    We'll see

    • I wonder how much the development of room-temperature superconductors would improve battery technology (and supercapacitor technology, for that matter) and electric cars in general? Imagine if you could build electric motors with superconducting wire, for instance. How much more efficient would they be?
    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      Long charging times are for most people only a problem on vacation. Normally people commute much shorter distances than the maximum modern electric cars can drive and can charge their cars at night. Long charging times are for most people only a problem on vacation, when they have time to wait half an hour for their car to get charged after driving for two hours.
      I think this whole 'long charging time' thing is fed by Big Oil astroturfers.

      • Long charging times are for most people only a problem on vacation. Normally people commute much shorter distances than the maximum modern electric cars can drive and can charge their cars at night.

        I love how you say "normally" when the vast number of people who have cars live in apartments where it may not be "normal" to have a plug anywhere near the car at night.

        Is your goal to have electric cars for only the elite? Or for EVERYONE? If electric cars are to break out of a tiny niche for the rich they ha

        • I suspect that you unknowingly confirmed that the desire of the left is to further dependency of the people on either the government or the elites for everything by making home ownership a luxury. Nothing like a society of renter's to be kicked around...

        • I love how you say "normally" when the vast number of people who have cars live in apartments where it may not be "normal" to have a plug anywhere near the car at night.

          It will take a long time, but what we need are construction rules that require a parking place with access to power for each new apartment. Some effort has already gone into this but it's still just beginning.

          • You can't just handwave away the massive cost of proving a charger per parking space, nor even the cost of an outlet per parking space along with the electrical lines buried capable of having every single parking space drawing enough current to charge...

            Even if that were practical what exactly do you imagine will happen to someone's personal charging cables or equipment left unattended overnight. Thieves are taking copper pipe out of buildings with the water still on...

            • A parking spot should be well under the cost of an apartment. Use aluminum instead of copper for the wiring, or once standardized, put in wireless charging.

              If your plumbing getting stolen is a problem you have bigger problems than I can handle. Move out if you can.

      • Vacations. Really? I know lots of people who drive more than 300 miles on their jobs. They're not commuting; they're working. For example, one of my friends reads meters once a month. The meters are radio read, but you still have to drive to within range. He drives 350 miles in that one day of reading. Stop to charge a battery? Hell, he doesn't even stop for lunch.

        My job involves traveling long distances twice a week. I'm not commuting daily; I'm just going to where I'm going to be working during the week.
        • by tsa ( 15680 )

          I knew someone would start bitching about this. Just because "all those people" you know drive a lot every day doesn't meaneverybody does. Ever heard of statistics?

        • Well clearly this tech wouldn't work for you in your specific profession yet. Maybe there are other people it might work for? Like almost everybody: http://www.statisticbrain.com/... [statisticbrain.com]
  • We are already close to 1/5 for the theoretical limit for lithium ion batteries
  • Lots of hype yet batteries still suck.
  • ..or for dilithium power cells, or dark matter-based energy sources, or portable quantum singularity-based power sources. These 'chemical' batteries are so Last Thursday; totally uncool.

    You know, if your smartphones had, I dunno, an OFF switch, so you could power them completely down when you're not using them, I'll bet you dollars to doughnuts that the battery would last longer. ;-) But, of course, then you wouldn't be able to be tracked and monitored 24/7/365, so of course the powers-that-be don't want t
    • I'd like to have the physical switch. Too bad no mainstream handset is going to include one. So, tape over battery contacts will have to do.
    • by tsa ( 15680 )

      I'm getting pretty fed up with conspiracy idiots like you.

      • Well guess what, friend? It's not the 1950's anymore, and by the way the America you thought you grew up in? It never existed in the first place. The only difference today is that the too-nosy-for-their-own-good government types, and corporations, now have much better technology to help them stick their little brown noses into things that are none of their business, and most people are carrying it around with them 24/7/365. This is the world we live in now. There's still time to change it so we're not under
  • They will give you minty fresh breath as well. Something advertised like this can be almost guaranteed to come to nothing.
  • And phones / laptops / etc will need 10 times the power, bring it down to the same situation we're in right now, and were 2, 5, 10 years ago... Big whoop..

  • Maybe it's not necessarily easier to develop higher density primary batteries as supposed to rechargeable ones, but it might not be a bad idea to approach density problem from a couple different approaches. Once batteries can approach 2-3 kwh/kg, 3-4 banks of say 10kg battery packs should be fairly easy to swap, negating charging problems. 30-40 kg battery packs should give similar range to gas burning cars, and they should be fairly easy to build out distribution network using existing gas stations. Of cou
  • "allowing electric cars to drive from New York to Denver without recharging."

    How many football pitches/swimming pools/toothbrushes is that equivalent to laid end to end?
  • I keep hearing a lot but I don't see a lot.
  • Typical overconfident US advertising. The best part, the word could implies that it could also be zero. It won't be worse as in that case we would use present designs.

    Furthermore, 10 times longer is not precise. It could also indicate more charge discharge cycles. So they should have said, the capacity could be 10 times higher.

  • Another referenced comparison for the pile.

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