New Lithium-ion Battery Charges in Just 10 Minutes

A new lithium-ion battery is being developed at USC that can be recharged in 10 minutes and hold three times more energy than other batteries. They first experimented with highly conductive and porous silicon nano-wires as the battery’s anode, but found that these nano-wires are difficult to manufacture in mass quantities. So they took commercially available nano-particles of silicon spheres and etched them with the same pores as the nano-wires. This is how they came up with these batteries that have 10 minute recharge times. They believe that such batteries should be commercially available within two to three years.


Car Battery Recycling: (Almost) As Easy as Pie

Have any doubts that recycling car batteries is a wasted effort? Think again! The car battery recycling process is relatively simple, and nearly the entire battery is reused. This keeps toxic pollution out of landfills, and assures more efficient uses of our precious resources. This How It’s Made video illuminates the battery recycling process as practical and economical. Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged to undertake sustainable practices when one is unclear on what happens following the initial effort. The great thing about this video is that it demystifies the car battery recycling process, so one can feel more informed and motivated about car battery recycling.

Even though an old or dead car battery may appear to be completely used-up and worthless, it still has an inherent potential of stored energy that can be utilized through recycling. At a battery recycling center, hundreds or thousands of batteries are smashed up, and the lead and metals are separated from the batteries’ plastic housing. The plastic pieces are sent to be recycled into pellets to for use as future battery casing. The lead is then processed out as paste, and the acid is neutralized into water, which is further processed until it is safe to pour down the drain. The lead and remaining metals are processed into a sludge which is dried out. The lead is melted out from this, and quickly formed into bars. Up to three batteries are then made from each bar.

How to Recycle Car Batteries

There are a number of options. Most auto repair shops will take them, but confirm with the shop that the batteries will actually be recycled. Many recycling centers can take them as well -- just check they are equipped to process scrap car batteries. AAA also sponsors the Great Battery Round UP, offering  collection sites to drop off used batteries (portions of the earnings from the recycled batteries are donated to environmental causes).

Prolonging Car Battery Life

You can also prolong the life of your car battery by taking a few easy steps: 
  • Avoid short trips, which wear out a battery more quickly. You'll also reduce fuel consumption and save money at the same time.
  • If you go for longer periods of time without driving (more than a week), you can easily install an inexpensive battery disconnect switch such as this one (sold for $5.99 by Harbor Freight): 

    Once installed, simply open the hood, rotate the knob a few turns, and your battery is now disconnected. This will prevent the car from draining additional energy from the battery while it's turned off and will prolong the battery's life (an additional benefit is that this product also deters car theft).

  • Make sure your battery is clean and uncorroded -- especially around the terminals, and even on the casing. Simply scraping off the terminals and wiping down the casing can make a big difference.

  • Verify periodically that the battery's water level is at least to the bottom of the refill hole.

  • Wrap your battery with an insulation blanket (such as this one from Advance Auto Parts to protect it from extreme heat and cold:
How It's Made 
Earth 911
Discovery News

Recycle a Phone with That Battery!

As of 2011, the average American upgrades their cell phone about every two years, whereas folks in Finland, Brazil, and India upgrade at an average of every 6-8 years. Where do the batteries from all of these unwanted phones go? According to the EPA, only 8% of cell phones were recycled in 2009, which means that a lot of them are probably sitting around collecting dust or have made their way to the landfill. I am guessing that this probably means that many of the batteries weren't recycled either.

Cell phone batteries are typically one of four types: Lithium Polymer (Li-Poly), Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), Nickel Cadmium (NiCd), or Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH). NiCd is the most toxic to the environment due to its cadmium content and should never reach the landfill, but all of them contain valuable materials that can be recycled and reused. This is true not only for the cell phone battery, but for other components as well. Cell phones contain many other materials that can be costly or are of limited supply such as gold, silver, copper, zinc, lead, iron, and platinum. In 2009, 62 percent of recycled cell phones were turned into sources of material recovery and the remaining 38 percent were reused or refurbished.

Many cell phone carriers also have trade-in or donation programs that can benefit the customer or a social service such as AT&T’s Trade-In-Program, Verizon Wireless’ HopeLine program, Sprint Nextel’s Project Connect, and T-Mobile USA’s Handset Recycling Program. Each of these carriers make it easy to recycle… either drop off your old phone at a service provider location or ship it by going to a provider’s website and printing out a free ship label for your region (T-Mobile has the envelopes at store locations). Any of these organizations will take any make or model of cell phone. You can also try to be aware of organization sponsored cell-phone recycling drives and drop-off locations because many organizations now participate in the recycling effort.


Renewable Energy Sources in the United States

I found many articles that offer a great deal of information into all of the renewable energy sources in the United States. These are sources of energy that are continuously replenished. We get energy from a variety of different resources such as, water, wind, the sun, etc. When I think about this it reminds me of driving to my grandparents house when I was a child and seeing hundreds of wind mills along the way. I never knew when I was younger that these were actually providing energy to millions of people. Geothermal sources are also renewable sources of energy. Along with renewable energy sources, comes non-renewable sources such as coal, oil and natural gas. Once these sources of energy are used, they cannot be used again. I found it quite interesting learning about all of the renewable and non-renewable energy sources available to us in the United States.

Hydropower is when we are able to generate electricity using water. There are many ways that we use water for energy. Water is actually the most common renewable source of energy in the United States today. One way in which water provides energy is from dams. We all know that dams store water, but they also let some water through and this water flows through a turbine which turns a generator and produces electricity.

Another renewable energy source comes from the wind. Wind has actually become the fastest growing energy technology in recent years. Wind turbines are placed in areas that are commonly known to be windy. With strong winds, the turbines spin more and this causes more energy to be produced. Of course, that is me explaining the process in simple terms. There is obviously much more to it. The windiest places in the United States, where the most turbines can be found are, Alaska, the Western United States and the Appalachian Mountains. Wind power currently supplies approximately 1% of our electricity needs in the United States. Wind continues to grow in supplying electricity for us, but it cannot be completely relied on for all of our electric needs.
Solar power is obviously energy that we gain from the sun. One would think that the sun is probably the biggest contributor of energy out of any of these renewable sources, but it actually provides less than 1% of our energy. However, this percentage is expected to increase once new and efficient solar technologies are invented. Many different kinds of solar collectors can be found all throughout the United States. Solar power can be either an advantage or disadvantage depending on where you live throughout the world. Obviously, the sun shines a lot more in some regions than it does in others. It will be interesting to see what new solar power techniques they comes up with.

There are many other renewable energy sources than the ones mentioned above. However, I found that hydropower, wind power and solar power are the three most important. They are also never going to fail us because we are never going to run short of water, wind or the sun. Some others include geothermal power and biomass power. The link below talks more in depth about each one of these energy sources.

You’ve Come a Long Way, Battery

In 1799 the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta created the first battery that emitted a steady, lasting current. He created it by alternating zinc and silver disks, one on top of the other,  that were separated by saltwater soaked cardboard disks. This wet cell battery originally was named the “artificial electrical organ” for its association with the popular idea that electricity was generated by animal tissue, such as that from the electric torpedo fish. The invention was later named the “Voltaic Pile.” His colleagues further immortalized him by naming the units of electromagnetic force that emitted from the contraption “volts.” Volta’s invention was the first modern success in battery technology, but it still wasn't able to sustain an electrical current long enough to power objects.

In 1836 a quite different style of battery called the Daniell Cell was invented by the Englishman John F. Daniell. The utilization of electrolytes in his battery provided longer lasting currents that enabled objects such as telephones and doorbells to operate. Today, we not only are able to power small objects and devices, but larger more consumptive ones like vehicles and homes. We also use batteries to store energy from green sources such as wind and solar. Batteries are an indispensable technology, one that is constantly evolving and advancing, one that is trying to find a healthy relationship between effective energy storage and responsible practices. We can all do our part in supporting this technology as well as our environment by recycling batteries that need recycling and purchasing less toxic, rechargeable batteries for use in our smaller devices. 


The Impact of Battery Production

It has been cited that the production of lithium batteries has the biggest impact on our environment. As we move away from fossil fuels and moving toward energy storage, it is important to be aware of the impact so we do not cause a worse impact believing we are doing something good and end up in a worse situation than before.

Batteries are key in energy storage and especially since we are shifting toward electric cars. Additionally, with the development of third world countries it is estimated to expand our need for lithium by nine times. It is estimated that we will use up one half of our resources by 2050. However abundant that may seem, it is important to think about the environmental impacts.

Lithium batteries have the largest impact on metal depletion. There are are also social and health consequences associated with the mining of lithium. The largest lithium mine is located in a scenic area in Bolivia and their government will make sure there is little impact as possible. The process in which lithium is extracted is also toxic. This is partially due to the extraction process and the use of copper associated with mining. The materials required in battery production have the most significant contribution to greenhouse gases and climate change and ozone depletion. See graph below.

Relying on virgin practices and using instead of recycling may result in increased prices and depetion of a limited resource. This is why it is important to think about recycling and caring for our batteries instead of throwing them away. To find your nearest recycling center in the U.S go to:

In Europe, several hundred thousands tonnes of lithium are being disposed of daily. So as a result, they have created regulations so that companies who produce and sell batteries also have a responsibility to recycle or create programs for the consumer.

As we pull away from fossil fuels, it is essential to understand the impact and consequences of producing batteries as a replacement.


The Bio-battery: It's ALIVE!

For as frightening as the dystopian future of The Matrix looks -- in which human beings are used as batteries to power the machines that keep them captive -- the idea of biologically-powered devices is actually pretty cool.  (As long as the AI from Ray Kurzweil's technological singularity doesn't sprout metal tentacles turn all H.R. Giger-ey on us, I think we'll be okay.)

Researchers at Sony among other corporations and institutions have developed a technology to harness that energy in the same way -- enter the Bio-Battery.  The bio-battery generates a flow of electrons by feeding an enzyme it's favorite food: glucose, just sugar-water.  Think about it: humans convert sugars into electrical current all the time!  A can of Coke holds as much energy potential in it as 72 AA batteries!  

At a 2012 TEDx event, Sameer Singhal explains and demonstrates the principles behind the bio-battery and its applications in the future.  Imagine mounting a camera or microphone to the back of a radio-controlled june-bug, all being powered by the sugars already in the insect's bloodstream.  Think of self-powered pacemakers implanted into patients, or the soldier who can replace the 20+ pounds of batteries usually in their packs with medicine or ammunition when deployed.  On the production side of things, think of the rare-earth metals that are conserved and the sustainability of using 100% renewable carbon-based enzymes instead.  Even more exciting is the graph at around 2:45 (below) which depicts that in only four years' research the electrical current generated has increased 100-fold, showing the potential for this technology to surpass and completely overtake traditional metal batteries.  Now that's a future we can look forward to!

But while we are waiting for The Matrix to consume the life force from us all, we can do our part to conserve energy wisely.  A few of the simple ways include:

  • Using rechargeable batteries where appropriate.
  • Consuming the red pill (or green, as it were).
  • Recycling or disposing of used batteries properly.

The Truth About "Advanced" Disposable Batteries

If you've ever looked for batteries where they keep electronics, you've probably noticed the latest and greatest trend in disposable batteries: Disposable Lithium batteries. They’re usually advertised as being ideal for high drain electronic devices like digital cameras, CD players, game controllers, and the like. True, they are lighter in weight and higher in energy density. However, they cost anywhere from 2-3 times what you might pay for alkaline batteries, and will only deliver 2-3 times the performance under specific conditions. These truly are high energy batteries, so if you decide to use them outside of the factory recommendations and put one in your flashlight or remote control, you may damage those devices. More importantly, they contain lithium metal, which is highly volatile when exposed to moisture. So if one of these batteries is ruptured, it’s only a matter of time before something like this happens:

Most recycling facilities won’t accept these types of batteries either, so for the environmentally conscious consumer, it can be difficult to find a way to properly dispose of them. Consider rechargeable Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries as an alternative. While they’re more expensive up front, they can be recharged hundreds of times, effectively making each one worth a hundred disposable lithium batteries, even considering the cost of the charger and the electricity to recharge them. That’s 1% of the cost of lithiums! And when they can’t hold a charge anymore, they can be recycled at most facilities. See our search tool to the right to find a recycling location near you.

Different Energy Storage Techniques

Being from California, I decided to research different ways that energy is stored in my area. I found many different techniques and it was also clear to me that these forms of storing energy are not only used in California, but all over. These technologies deliver stored energy without generating electricity. I have come to find that they are so much more beneficial in the long run. The first technology is obviously the battery. Batteries are typically used to produce electricity that cannot be interrupted. They are obviously much more convenient overally. There are all different kind of batteries that have proven to be effective, such as the standard lead-acid battery, as well as the sodium-sulfur and lithium-ion batteries. Next form of energy storage that can be used are flow batteries. A flow battery stores and releases energy through a reversible electrochemical reaction between two electrolyte solutions. The website below mentions four different kinds of flow batteries. Another technology that has proven to be quite effective in energy storage is the flywheel. This device couples a generator with a rotating mass to store energy for short periods of time. These are very helpful for events such as power outages.
The above image is a more in depth description of a flow battery. It was a little confusing to me at first, but this gave me a lot better understanding.

This image portrays a very detailed description of a flywheel generator and how it works.

These forms of energy storage mentioned above, a long with many others have proven to be quite beneficial for many reasons. First of all, the quality of the power and the reliability are much stronger than other ways of electricity. Seond, they are actually a lot less costly in the long run. One other benefit that I found from these technologies is these technologies actually help to create jobs in related industries all through out the world and in our economy today, that is very much needed. There are so many more benefits, but I feel that the three mentioned above are more than enough to get people to start considering these energy storage techniques.

Choking Hazards of Small Batteries In Common Household Objects

In today’s society, the prevalence of battery operated items in the home are a danger to many children, specifically button batteries which are common in children books, toddler toys, watches, hearing aids, and greeting cards.  The purpose of this article is to raise awareness among parents about the dangers of small batteries with children.

The danger in button batteries is that children are eating them.  Not only is there harm in choking, but also in complications that may come from swallowing the batteries.  Battery toxins can cause internal bleeding by burning holes in bodily tissues, which can lead to lifelong health issues. These problems could be prevented if parents were better educated about the dangers of leaving these batteries within reach of unattended children.

Tiny Batteries Dangerous to Children, Yet Many Parents Unaware -

Corporation for Battery Recharging - The Good that Big Companies are Doing!

     The mission of the Corporation for Battery Recharging is " find new ways to extract heavy metals and other valuable materials out of old batteries and then create new ones, which would then reduce the amount of virgin materials needed to manufacture household batteries" (Kaye, Battery Manufacturers Pledge to Nationwide Recycling). In 2009, the Department of Transportation mandated that stricter precautions be taken for batteries that were shipped to recycling centers. This significantly increased the amount of batteries that were sent to the garbage dump, instead of being recycled. This is one of the reasons why the CBR was created by the companies; Rayovac, Panasonic, Duracell and Energizer.
     In order to research the collection and recycling patterns around the nation, CBR instituted six foundational programs in the following locations:

1. Santa Clara, California
2. Hennepin County, Minnesota
3. King County, Washington
4. Snohomish County, Washington
5. Onondaga County, New York
6. San Luis Obispo County, California

Professionals at these programs are surveying the different brands and battery chemistries that are expected to be recycled by consumers. The purpose of this research is to determine which brands consumers' are using, and the diversity of their recycling habits. Full reports of the studies that are taken at program locations are available to the public on the CBR website.
     Batteries must be made with pure elements in order for them to produce the kind of high performance that consumers expect. Elements like zinc, steel and manganese extracted from old batteries can not be reused for new ones. This does not mean that these elements will be tossed out, however, since they can be reused for the production of other applications. Household products that consist of zinc, steel and manganese can be made from the elements of old batteries. This would decrease the amount of waste product in our environment, and lead to the decrease in price for some household items.
     Recycling benefits the producer, the consumer and the environment. You can play a major role in ensuring that the batteries you use are of good quality, and can be recycled at the least expense to the environment. CBR is currently looking into new ways to engage consumers in household battery recycling programs. In 2012, the DOT changed recycling restrictions to include some more leniency, but there is still more work to be done. CBR hopes to institute a state-by-state, national program, which would expand the six program locations. This will also make it easier for consumers to participate more deeply in the household recycling programs already started by CBR, and other interested organizations.

Corporation for Battery Recycling
Earth911: Battery Manufacturers Pledge to Nationwide Recycling

Memory: Myth of Fact?

Do Batteries Have Memory?
     In the 1970s and 1980s, batteries used to have “cyclical memory,” better known as “memory.” That meant the nickel-candmium remembered the amount that was discharged and then would only recharge that amount. By1990, the nickel-metal-hydride was introduced. It was supposed to be “memory-free.” Technology has changed and batteries don’t have a cyclical memory anymore, but they still need to be managed.
     The new nickel-based battery has other issues. It creates a substance called Crystalline formation that can build up. This occurs when a battery is overcharged for a period of a couple of months (which is the case for the normal person) and then not discharged completely. When the crystalline formation builds up, it reduces the surface area of the active material and thus reduces its charge. 
     The best solution is not to allow the crystalline formation to form in the first place.
The way to manage the growth is to ‘exercise” your batteries. Batteries require a periodic discharge down to one volt per cell. In other words, it is important to drain batteries almost all the way down about once every three months.
     If batteries have not been exercised, it’s not too late. When batteries do not hold their charge and exercising the battery doesn’t work, all is not lost. They can be reconditioned. “Recondition” is a slow discharge that drains the battery slowly. By draining the battery at a slow rate it causes the crystals to break down. You can help us discover if this article holds true by taking our survey.


Normal crystal structure

 The crystals have grown to 50 to 100 microns. The sharp corners can cause an increased discharge or electrical short.

Batteries for Our Future

“Battery technology needed to support grid-scale energy storage will continue to advance. This new technology will play a big role in helping utilities meet renewable energy goals, while also reducing peak demand and thus allowing utilities to defer asset investments and reduce reliance on inefficient generating plants.”  - Mike Edmonds, SVP Strategic Solutions, S&C Electric

Batteries are a crucial component to a modern and innovative society. They not only provide power to seemingly non-essential devices such as video game consoles and hand vacuums, but are a crucial part of the success of modern living, comfort, and health. Battery utilization is destined to increase as demand for large-scale, stable, eco-friendly, and cost effective energy sources increase and the desire for fossil fuel dependency decreases. The need for batteries goes hand-in-hand with alternative energy sources such as wind and solar. Without batteries the energy supplies generated by these resources would be intermittent and unreliable. To use batteries in conjunction with renewable energy will aid in grid stabilization and energy efficiency. Advanced, eco-friendly, large-scale battery storage systems are currently in the process of development in order to utilize renewables in a greater capacity, preparing for the future demands of energy use.


The World’s Smallest and Largest Batteries

The world’s smallest battery is hundreds of times thinner than a human hair! It is six times thinner than a bacterium and 60,000 times smaller than an AAA battery. A cross between a battery and a super capacitor, the battery is a nanowire where one-half of the wire is a negative electrode and the other half is a positive electrode. Once the lab prototype is ready for commercial use it could be used to power implanted medical devices, microscopic wireless networks, and chemical and biological sensors. 

Click to watch The Medusa Twist in action.

China has announced the development of the largest battery in the world. The battery storage device is constructed of arrays of batteries “larger than a football field” that can store and deliver 36 megawatt-hours of electricity. The battery is connected to wind and solar power generation and a renewable energy transmission system.
The race is on as the technology for grid power storage is gearing up. A few large-scale lithium-ion battery storage projects are in operation in the United States and several more giant capacity batteries are scheduled come online in 2013 with the goal of helping to maintain and store a reliable supply of renewable electricity.

What is the best battery recharging routine?

There is a direct correlation between the way that we care for our batteries, and the amount of energy we can get out of them before they have to be recycled or trashed. Normally, batteries should die only when all of the stored chemical energy has been used, or from deterioration caused by corrosion. Some of the things that cause batteries to die earlier than what is reasonable include, but are not limited to; overcharging, over discharging, excessive charge rates, excessive discharge rates and improper equalization (Corey, Nine Ways To Murder Your Battery). These poor practices can cause the chemical properties inside the batteries to diminish, which may prevent them from being converted to electrical energy. If this happens, then the batteries are rendered non-functional. Following a proper charging routine means that you don’t have to buy batteries as often, battery manufacturing decreases, and ultimately so does the amount of waste that is added to our environment. The following is a list of best practices for getting the most life out of your batteries.

1. Remove all dead batteries from your device immediately.
2. Read the instructions for your device, and make sure to install the type of battery recommended.
3. Each discharge/recharge cycle will partially wear down the battery, so it is important to keep track of how often you have to go through this cycle. Do so only when necessary.
4. Do not fully discharge battery, as this could damage it. (It turns out that some batteries, nickel based, perform best with periodic deep discharges, but this is not the standard.)
5. Wait until your battery has discharged partially before recharging it again.
6. Short battery life in some devices can be attributed to excessive heat. Make sure that your device is used in moderate temperature.
7. After a battery is fully charged, as indicated by the green light, take it out of the charger.
8. Be informed! There are many types of batteries with differing chemical compositions, which require unique charging routines. Do research, and remember, Google is your friend.

Nine Ways To Murder Your Battery
Naked Science Forum
Wikipedia: Battery (electricity)
Batteries in a Portable World
Battery University: How to Charge - When to Charge

nickel-hydride and lithium-ion batteries or lead-acid batteries

nickel-hydride and lithium-ion batteries or lead-acid batteries

Nickel hydride and lithium ion batteries are currently being installed into our hybrid vehicles instead of the traditional lead acid batteries. These names seem vastly different and scientific, but what do they really mean as far as sustainability and health concerns as far as exposures and disposal. Both battery types contain levels of precious metals that can poison humans and the soil they often get buried into during the landfill process. Hybrid batteries are usually 4 times the size of a standard car battery but can last much longer, in the article below they suggest around 100,000 miles. Hybrid batteries however cannot be revamped like the cores of lead acid batteries at the ends of their life spans. 

(Typical Car Battery)

(Hybrid Car Battery)

So the question then looks to well environmentally speaking, aside from the battery component hybrids are more eco-friendly? Well Laura Williams, author of "Negative Environmental Impacts of Hybrid Vehicles" reveals one of the major components of recharging stations. You may think driving an electric vehicle is clean energy, but when recharging a vehicle in one of the cities charging stations, it is key to know where the city gets their energy from. After all if they are using fossil fuels to generate city electricity that is what is charging your car battery. Laura Williams also states "A 2004 report by the Connecticut General Assembly, stated that when comparing a traditional compact car to its hybrid counterpart, you can expect emissions to be reduced by approximately 10 percent. Greater reductions can be seen in hybrid SUVs, but the total effect of emissions reductions are between 10 and 15 percent."

Natural Resources for Batteries

What goes into making a battery? Batteries are produced from natural resources of elements of metals such as cadmium, cobalt, lead, lithium, and nickel (along with other rare earth elements). Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have become popular because not only do they save money, but they also save resources as well. Due to the high consumption of batteries, maintaining these natural resources is important because they are a limited resource. This leads to the importance of natural resources and conserving them, which leads to exercising the recycling of batteries. Recycling batteries leads to about 51.3% savings in natural resources, and not only because of decreased mineral dependency but also because of reduced consumption of fossil resources and nuclear energy demands.
Mining for Lithium


Basics of Battery Storage

It's occasionally necessary to keep batteries in storage. Unfortunately, any battery will age while in storage, but taking some basic steps can help prolong the life of a battery while storing it. Of course, one of the factors that can age a battery the quickest is exposure to temperature extremes. The ideal storage temperature for most batteries is 59°F, and keeping batteries in near-range of this temperature ideal will help prolong their life sufficiently. Additionally, lithium-ion batteries are also exposed to temperature extremes frequently, when units are left out in the sun or overcharged. Remembering to keep cell phones and laptops out of the sun, and unplugged when fully charged, will go a long way toward prolonging their batteries' lives. Here are some tips that Battery University suggests for prolonging the life of batteries in storage:

Simple Guidelines for Storing Batteries

  • Primary batteries store well. Alkaline and primary lithium batteries can be stored for 10 years with moderate loss capacity.
  • Remove battery from the equipment and store in a dry and cool place.
  • Avoid freezing. Batteries freeze more easily if in discharged state.
  • Charge lead acid before storing and monitor the voltage or specific gravity frequently; apply a boost if below 2.10V/cell or an SG below 1.225.
  • Nickel-based batteries can be stored for five years and longer, even at zero voltage; prime before use.
  • Lithium-ion must be stored in a charged state, ideally 40 percent. This assures that the battery will not drop below 2.50V/cell with self-discharge and fall asleep.
  • Discard Li-ion if the voltage has stayed below 2.00/V/cell for more than a week.

Boeing 787 and Electric Car Lithium-ion Batteries are NOT the Same

With the recent FAA grounding of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner due to lithium-ion battery-pack fires, lithium ion batteries in electric cars are likely to get a bad rap. It's important to remember that there are significant differences between the two batteries used in each.

According to John Voelcker in a recent Popular Science article, while both lithium-ion, the the two batteries have dissimilar chemical makeups. The 787 battery packs utilize cobalt oxide chemistry, which is know for its high energy content and propensity for overheating. Most electric cars, on the other hand, have a manganese-based chemical makeup and are far less prone to overheating and fires. Unfortunately, many people may be turned-off to electric cars for fear of faulty batteries, and it's important that misinformation does not prevail. Electric cars continue to lessen our reliance on petroleum reserves while benefiting the environment with low emissions.
Popular Science

New Lithium-air Batteries Being Developed by IBM

IBM is currently working on a project they call the “Battery 500 Project”. They’re trying to develop an electric car battery that can drive 500 miles on just one charge using lithium-air. Because the battery uses incoming oxygen as one of its electrodes, it weighs much less and is more energy dense than the current lithium-ion batteries. Today, lithium-ion car batteries can only give a car around 150 miles per charge, so a battery powerful enough to give 500 miles per charge would certainly be a game changer for electric vehicles. A major hurdle so far has been recharging this new type of battery. One of the problems with recharging it is that instead of releasing pure oxygen it releases carbon dioxide, which won’t help reduce carbon emissions like we need. It looks like lithium-air batteries are far from hitting the market.

Source: NBC News: Big 'Green'? IBM works on 500 miles-per-charge battery

Fast and Electric Getting More Competitive

Cost of Electric cars sees future in the price of the Tesla S, soon to be released. Tesla adds the price of a replacement battery 4 year, 50,000 mile warranty to the overall tag on the car. With a jump of $2,500 it may seem as though its taking a significant leap from its original cost, but in comparison, the S is priced competitively. Inflation has been fairly consistent at 8.75% which would indicate that the Tesla should have an increase of $5,000 from the announcement of $57,400 in 2009. The jump of $5,000 would have turned heads, yet made sense. They also offer an additional warranty for another 4 years and 50,000 miles. How do they afford to offer such a deal? Predictions for the price of batteries seems to be promising. They range from $8,000 for the 40-kWh battery, $10,000 for the 60-kWh to $12,000 for the 85-kWh pack. Only the future will show how these prices remain, but with the push for more efficiency through technology continues to lead the way in the rechargeable market. The more attractive the cars and the more economical the choice seems to be, the more everyone will be able to get involved with the lowering of our emissions and harming our environment less. 


Gasoline to Hybrid to Electric Vehicles: Lessons in Cost-Effectiveness from Sir Isaac Newton

The consumer-driven rise of the hybrid vehicle -- half gasoline, half electric -- has spurred on more research into the fully electric vehicle, or EV.  EVWorld offers a statistical projection of the cost-efficiency of EVs over the standard internal combustion engine and today's top hybrid vehicles, concluding that no matter which way one slices it, EVs are the way to go if one wants to stretch their energy dollar.  When compared to the average gasoline engine for a small (30 mpg) car, the EV offers over $1500 in energy savings per year, and the savings increases the more one drives the EV.  The study also incorporates projected oil prices (assuming the conditions of "Peak Oil" do not obtain) and compares it with projected technological improvements in battery design, further demonstrating that an EV cars are the future of personal transportation, even over the hybrid. "Even the best of [hybrids] is still very poor compared to typical EV efficiency, which is about 4 times that of gasoline engines. Future optimization of EV designs will likely maintain this 4-to-1 ratio, even compared to these higher cost engine improvements" (EVWorld, 2012, link below).  But for those of us who drive small gasoline-powered cars are in for a shock.  From the report: "[G]asoline engines face twice as high a hurdle than 4-to-1. As calculated [herein], the cost of gasoline is about 8 times that of electricity as a fuel; so if gasoline engine efficiency is to improve enough to compensate for price, then it must improve enough to create an engine that is almost 200% energy efficient, which is an impossible violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics."  Good luck with that, gasoline internal combustion engine!

Direct Link: