House Technology


There seems to be a new announcement about energy storage breakthroughs daily.  It all has to be taken with a grain of salt until they actually have a product made outside the lab in some slow production facility for sale.

While this is still in the lab, what they are claiming and what they say they have done really is amazing. It’s a major university so I give them a little more credence.

http://www.computerworld.com/article/3060005/mobile-wireless/scientists-can-now-make-lithium-ion-batteries-last-a-lifetime.html

While they don’t go into how this effects energy charge-discharge rate, just making batteries that can charge and discharge a couple hundred thousand times is going to radically change the economics of electric transportation and storage.

It will make electric cars and wind power happen a day after they start making these things….

Update: This article is better than the first.

http://www.popsci.com/researchers-accidentally-make-batteries-last-400-times-longer

downloadIf you scroll down a bit you will see the article “Graphene makes a great superconductor”. In the article the University of Texas found that Graphene has the properties to make a great supercapacitor. But they do not explain how to do it. The process. 

Well some folks at UCLA have found how the process and it looks pretty straight forward:

http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/science/more-good-news-on-those-carbon-supercapacitors.html

Here is the Video:

http://vimeo.com/51873011

In the first article they say it can hold as much as a lead acid battery. Lets make the assumption that they are measuring based on space used. In other words you take a lead acid battery and in the volume of space it takes up you can make a capacitor(s) that have the same amount of energy storage.  With this in mind I can give some insight. With this capacity your phone and computer will still be Lithium-Ion. LI-On (Lithium-Ion) batteries are light and holds a lot of energy. Just about when you need to replace the battery is about the time you are thinking of getting a new one. So unless they make the capacitor a lot better I can see things staying the same. Even with the capacitors super fast recharge rate. 

But for cars and aircraft I see a swift change. Because wight matters. And quick recharge rate matters when dealing with electric cars and Hybrid aircraft. Take the battery in the Chevy Volt. It is quite large. One of the reasons it is so large is they found that if they only charged it 80% and discharged to 30% of battery capacity so it would make the batteries last twice as long. So in effect they are not using all the battery capacity in exchange for longevity.  If you swapped out the LI-ON with these capacitors you would still not get as much energy storage  but it would take five minutes to recharge.  So storage is not such an issue. 

The Volt is also fairly complex. The Li-On batteries have to be heated and cooled to keep them working efficiently. I do not think these capacitors would have such issues. Granted extreme weather can cause issues with any system. But batteries being a chemical reaction are effected a great deal by temperature.  

For aircraft I see this being an important step also. For planes and helicopters electric motors as the prime mover has advantages in power and simplicity. But the drawbacks right now are too great due to battery weight and loss of efficiency (motors and generators usually have a 10-15% inefficiency). But this could be a turning point. With light weigh capacitors which store the same amount as lead-Acid batteries and have a very long life it may be better to have a aircraft that has one engine for power production, one for backup and batteries which are used for high power demand maneuvers. Like taking off.  

Of course this is all speculation at this point. We will have to wait to see what the amp-hours are when they come out with an actual product. 

I hope we do not have too long to wait…

Update: 16 August 2013: Another lab is having similer results with Graphene super capacitors. This leads me to belive the breakthrough is not just a process, but the material itself.  This is a good thing. No one compnay will be able to lock in this technology. Take a look:

http://www.gizmag.com/graphene-based-supercapacitor/28579/

images   

 

I am a big believer in new processes. Processes created into efficient factory’s are the reason we have the modern cheap world we have today. Factories make the obscenely expensive into common.

   This new process is in its infancy. I hesitate to put it up until their new mini-factory is actually in production for a while. But it works in the lab so that means they should be able to scale it up into a factory, so I am posting it.

   

http://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21571847-exotic-useful-metals-such-tantalum-and-titanium-are-about-become-cheap

If this works as advertised it will have a huge effect on our society.

    I am not a huge fan of solar power. But I am a fan.

On the positive side the fuel (sunlight) is free; the power is generated close to where it will be used; their peak generating time is peak usage time; there are no moving parts to a solar panel; after 20 years solar panels are still generating about 80% of that they did originally.

    On the negative side they are only 50% efficient due to the fact of nighttime; even though the price of solar panels has dropped dramatically most people put them on their roof which is expensive due to union electricians who must be certified to work on roofs; the panels are only one part of the system, you also have to buy an inverter, wire the system and connect it to the grid; if your state does not have net metering you may need to have batteries to store power and not be connected directly to the grid.

Well things have just gotten interesting. They seem to have figured out a way to make solar panels much easier with less expensive materials.

http://www.gizmag.com/screening-engineered-field-effect-photovoltaics-solar-cell/23539/

Granted this is still in the lab so I do not want to get too excited about it.

But if this simplified method can be integrated into today’s production lines with cheaper materials (or even with the materials we are using today) it could lead to a rapid decrease in cost for solar panels.

Solar panels have already come down in price quite a bit in the last few years.   This may be the tipping point technology where solar panels become a common sight. Lets hope.

-StoneMaster Dennis

This is still in the lab, but the preliminary results are very encouraging. So I decided to post it:

http://www.gizmag.com/nanocrystalline-silicon-nanoshell-photovoltaics/21391/

Less material, easier to make and a lot more efficient. This could change everything…..

Lets hope!

-StoneMad Member Dennis

http://thestonefoundation.ning.com/

While this technology could just keep getting better, they have hit a milestone. The cables they make now are as good as copper.

 http://www.technologyreview.com/energy/38615/?p1=MstRcnt

This is very exciting. For the aviation industry this could be a boon. Airbus is using aluminum wiring in some of their aircraft for weight reasons, even though aluminum does not transmit electricity as well as copper. If the cost is even in the ballpark, we could see the aviation industry switching quite rapidly.

Obviously there are cost, longevity and maintenance issues that will have to be resolved. Production issues as well.

But the benefits are so obvious, I see a lot of money being thrown at this to get it into production and into vehicles.

Update 1/8/13: 

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/509766/nanotubes-turned-into-super-fibers/

Steel has been around for a while. With all the people who have worked on it over the centuries and the large institutions who have focused on it, you would not expect a breakthrough right now.

Well you would be wrong. A small mill in Detroit,  SFP Works, has found a way to make the strongest steel 7% stronger. That may not sound like a lot, but it is. Here are the links:

 

http://www.gizmag.com/stronger-steel-in-a-flash/18882/

http://www.bainitesteel.com/default.asp

I find it fascinating that they claim it would do the job of aluminum (same strength) and be lighter. This is going to change things. Really fast. 

Hold on!

-Lover of small modified work trucks Dennis

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