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Power Hardware Science Technology

Li-Ion Battery Inventor Creates Breakthrough Solid-State Battery, Holds 3X Charge (fossbytes.com) 306

A research team led by John Goodenough at the Cockrell School of Engineering (Yes, this is a legitimate story) has created a new fast charging solid-state battery. Decades ago, American physicist John Goodenough co-invented the lithium-ion battery, which is now omnipresent in today's technology. The team has published a research paper in the journal Energy and Environmental Science. Fossbytes reports: The design limitations of lithium batteries containing liquid electrolytes don't allow them to charge quickly. If done forcefully, it would lead to the formation of metal whiskers (dendrites). Eventually, a short circuit would happen, or the battery would explode. However, that's not the problem with the solid-state batteries. The researchers have used a solid glass electrolyte in place of the liquid one. The glass electrolyte allows the researchers to use the alkali metal anode (negative side) which increases the charge density of the battery and prevents the formation of dendrites. Also, the glass electrolyte enables a battery to operate in extreme temperatures of -20-degree celsius. You can read more via The University of Texas at Austin.
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Li-Ion Battery Inventor Creates Breakthrough Solid-State Battery, Holds 3X Charge

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  • I'll wait (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:10PM (#53967187)

    Until Jane Waybetter from Bulldaze School of Engineering comes out with an improved solid-state battery, winning the Valiant medal.

  • A "noble prize"? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:13PM (#53967199)

    Are you morons even trying anymore?

  • by volvox_voxel ( 2752469 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:15PM (#53967207)
    Among battery researchers that I know, a key figure of merit is the amount of power you get after the thousandth charge-discharge cycle. There are plenty of great battery ideas out there, but they don't have the lifetimes to be commercially feasible. I wonder how this stacks up.
  • by ScentCone ( 795499 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @10:16PM (#53967209)
    I wonder how the solid electrolyte holds up under rugged use/abuse.
  • But how economical is it to modify the existing multi-billion dollar battery factories to make these solid state batteries?

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      Just build new ones.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Money doesn't grow on trees. No one's going to finance a factory that costs 10x as much to build batteries with 3x the charge as 20% more discharges. That's not even taking into account how much more toxic waste the new factory discharges.

        • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

          Really? There is some serious competition in the battery sales world. The desire for range on electric cars alone should be enough to get one built. If the existing companies wont build it someone will. That's too big an improvement to ignore.

        • by ceoyoyo ( 59147 )

          Ha ha, right. If you were talking about quantity you'd be right. But if my batteries make someone's phone last three times as long as yours do, it's you and your investors who have the problem.

        • An electric car with 3x the range ...
          Or a drone ...
          Not to mention the people working on electric powered planes/helicopters ...
          A phone that lasts three times as long ...
          Naval equipment for sailors ... GPS, emergency beacons, swim wests ...

          You must live under a rock.

        • It is all about return on investment; in a growing market that is much easier to achieve. At some point, if the new technology provides sufficient value, old factories will be upgraded...
    • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:16PM (#53967449)

      But how economical is it to modify the existing multi-billion dollar battery factories to make these solid state batteries?

      Spoken just like Edsel Ford or just about anyone managing a US Steel plant since World War Two.
      You do something like that or you eventually become far less relevant to the economy.

    • by shilly ( 142940 )

      If you think this is a showstopper, you are not familiar with the economic history of semiconductor fabrication, are you?

  • by fabioalcor ( 1663783 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:00PM (#53967399)

    I think this one differentiate from the rest in two aspects: first, this one looks much more production-ready than all the others I heard about (TFA says "has more charging cycles, supports fast charging, and isn’t prone to catch fire"). It may be necessary improve mechanical strength (the glass electrolyte can be too brittle for real world applications), maybe voltage or current throughput... what do you think?
    And second, this one is from the man that did it once before. For me, it's good enough (^^).

    • by quenda ( 644621 )

      And second, this one is from the man that did it once before.

      Two words: Linus Pauling. (two Nobels)

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      Well, there's absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries which are actually more shock-resistant than standard flooded cells, so maybe there's hope.

  • by m.dillon ( 147925 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:01PM (#53967405) Homepage

    Or Hot :-). I read a number of articles from analysts who thought it would take around 15 years for the technology to be produced in commercial volumes. But the fact that it looks like this is going to happen at all, even with a 10-15 year time-frame, is a BIG deal. 3x the charge will give electric vehicles a 600+ mile range.

    -Matt

    • by presidenteloco ( 659168 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @01:23AM (#53967823)

      Look, if this tech can actually make something like 600 mile EVs a reality, not to mention grid-scale energy storage to enable power grid stability with massive wind and solar generation displacing coal,

      then there is no reason why a Manhattan-project scale effort (government led, or even UN led) should not be made to commercialize it in 5 years rather than 15.

      No reason that is, other than the black hole vacuity sitting in the white house.

      • +1. In a sane world led by grown-ups, this is what we would do. Maybe there's still hope, the EU or China could take the lead.

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @01:52AM (#53967899) Homepage Journal

      I expect that faster charging might be a bigger deal for electric cars than greater capacity. The best electric cars have perfectly acceptable ranges, but if you plug them in it takes an hour to add back another 50 miles of range. If you could triple that figure, you'd really have something. Even a cross-continental trip would be feasible. You'd end up spending something like half as much time charging as driving, rather than the other way around.

      • by jandjmh ( 66714 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @04:30AM (#53968199) Homepage

        The best electric cars (Tesla) can add about 150 miles of range in 30 minutes at a supercharger station. Stop for lunch for an hour or so, and you can add 200 miles (rate tapers down from the initial rush)

      • by shilly ( 142940 )

        Perhaps. But I imagine vanishingly few trips are 600miles without a significant break. Most EV owners charge overnight for most of their charges, and wake up to a fully charged car every morning. It therefore becomes irrelevant whether it takes ten minute or three hours to charge, and the rate-limiting step for home-charging is usually the availability of high-power charging. In the UK, you can get 7kW chargers if you can fit an isolator, and if you have three-phase supply (most people don't), you can get 2

        • by swb ( 14022 )

          I always wonder how often people with electric cars forget to plug them in when they get home. That seems like the most common use of extended range, not long haul trips. It's the ability to get 2-3 days of short-haul use without having to charge.

          It's common to be rushed when you get home, jump out of the car to attend to something and then completely forget about stuff in the car. A couple of times a month my wife says "Bye, I'm off to work" and then 30 seconds later is trudging back through the house b

      • It makes more sense to rent IC engine cars for long distance trips and own a commuter runabout with 120 mile range with six to eight hours for full recharge. I am surprised rental car companies have not come out with a Netflix model of subscription based car rentals for battery car owners. Something like basic service 25$ a month gets you 10 days of car/truck per year. Electric car manufacturers could throw in the first or second year of service for free. Throw in the ability to rent anywhere in the countr
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Or they can make the cars thinner so it has a 50 miles range. If only the car companies are courageous enough.

  • by CrawlingEvil ( 750859 ) on Thursday March 02, 2017 @11:52PM (#53967569) Homepage
    I just watched a recent Nova that highlighted a similar technology, but using plastic rather than glass as the electrolyte. Check out a short clip about it here: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/n... [pbs.org]. Seems like it has the same advantages, but without issues of brittleness, given that his sample batteries are shown being flexed. On the other hand, the plastic might be more susceptible to cold than the glass electrolyte.
    • by AaronW ( 33736 )

      I think in any event it's exciting to see these advancements in battery technology and I can't wait until they make it out of the lab. I'm sure companies like Tesla are looking at this technology very carefully.

  • by XSportSeeker ( 4641865 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @12:07AM (#53967627)

    ...well, John, goodenough

  • by OneHundredAndTen ( 1523865 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @12:09AM (#53967635)
    What are the chances that in, say, six months time everybody will have forgotten about this, and it will come nothing? For, that's what seems to happen with the vast majority of scientific/technological breakthroughs announced in this forum.
    • I certainly don't know if this particular approach will turn put great and we'll all be using glass batteries in a few years - but I don't think it matters. What I get from these stories, of various new battery technologies which include some which appear very practical is that *some* much better new technology will replace the current lithium-ion cells in a few years. I don't know or care if Goodenough's battery is the next big thing, I only care that there are enough highly promising ideas in the pipeli

    • by haruchai ( 17472 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @01:39AM (#53967867)

      It can take quite some time to move beyond the lab.
      Goodenough et al demonstration of a rechargeable LiCoO2 cell was in 79-80 and it wasn't until 1991 that the 1st commercial Li-on battery was produced by Sony

      • by shilly ( 142940 )

        10 years wouldn't be too bad. On top of that, the incentives for commercialisation are sharper now than back then, so more resources are likely to be poured into this. On the other hand, there are many other battery tech innovations being pursued because of those sharper incentives, so this approach will have to compete with those others for resource.

  • Michigan (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 03, 2017 @12:12AM (#53967649)

    A few weeks ago, Nova showed a lithium-metal battery developed at Univ. of Michigan that uses plastic, has 2X the energy density of Li-ion, and doesn't explode or burn even when cut numerous times. Pogue showed such a battery continuing to produce power even when sliced many times with scissors.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 03, 2017 @01:02AM (#53967779)

    I always look forward to Slashdot's famous Battery of the Week stories. Each week we are introduced to the latest battery breakthorough that is just around the corner. Or maybe 10 years down the road. Or maybe never. Does it matter that it will never be produced, and never available for sale? Absolutely not!

    This is about dreams, and visions. It has nothing to do with reality. I'm a dreamer. MLK was a dreamer. The Everly brothers were dreamers. Mexicans are dreamers. We are all dreamers!

    Dream on, mis amigos! Dream on!

  • Where does this leave Elon Musk/Panasonic's Megafactory? He's churning out gazillions of old smelly batteries that nobody will want. His cars are full of dangerous old tech batteries that don't last long enough and take too long to charge. Can he buy this new tech and convert his factory? Stay tuned...

    You can bet that Musk and Wall Street and many others invested in battery and energy storage tech are watching closely.

    • He retools in 10 years when these batteries actually come to market.

    • by Michael Woodhams ( 112247 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @01:51AM (#53967895) Journal

      It leaves Musk happy. The megafactory churns out batteries until this (or something similar) gets commercialized, then he switches production to the new battery type. It will let Tesla make more cost-effective electric cars. (If the inventors can impress him enough, Tesla might hire them commercialize it itself. It would be a Muskian thing to do.)

      It is people who have invested in lithium mining who are unhappy.

      • Ho I understand the article, they still use lithium, only the electrolyte got replaced by a kind of glass.
        But I might be wrong :D

        • From the final (U Texas) link:

          âoeThe glass electrolytes allow for the substitution of low-cost sodium for lithium. Sodium is extracted from seawater that is widely available,â Braga said.

          It can use lithium or sodium but sodium is cheaper. It may yet turn out that using lithium has advantages which justify the extra cost.

  • Have I somehow stumbled into the Radio Shack "battery of the month" club?

    • by Megane ( 129182 )
      These batteries last for more than a week, so no. (For those who don't remember, only carbon-zinc batteries were eligible for the BotM club.)
  • Something similar. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Friday March 03, 2017 @03:17AM (#53968049)

    Saw this episode of NOVA, Search for the Super Battery [pbs.org] with David Pogue about Tufts University professor and engineer Mike Zimmerman and his solid plastic electrolyte, described here: New Damage-Proof Battery Has Higher Energy Density, Won’t Explode [pbs.org]:

    But Zimmerman’s battery can withstand repeated damage without risking explosion or fire. In fact, it can continue to power devices even after most of it has been chopped away.

    Watched him hit the batter pack it with a hammer, drive nails through it and cut it up with scissors all while the battery kept producing power.

  • the li-ion was not Goodenough after all.
  • put it on the pile of other 'breakthrough' research we've seen the last couple of years, and most still aren't on the market for years to come..
    I'll be applauding once we see these things actually in our devices/cars..

  • The man is 94 and still active. I remember Hans Bethe's colloquium when he was 94. I tip my hat to these people, they keep on going strong long after they made their major contributions to their fields.

  • If its so real. Until then, it's all lab work.

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