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A Car Battery at Half the Price
MIT Technology Review ^ | Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | By Kevin Bullis

Posted on 05/27/2011 11:33:08 AM PDT by Red Badger

A startup hopes to commercialize a novel design that features fluid electrodes.

Last year, the battery startup A123 Systems spun out another company, called 24M, to develop a new kind of battery meant to make electric vehicles go farther and cost less. Now a research paper published in Advanced Energy Materials reveals the first details about how that battery would work. It also addresses the challenges in bringing the battery to market.

A big problem with the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids is that only about 25 percent of the battery's volume is taken up by materials that store energy. The rest is made up of inactive materials, such as packaging, conductive foils, and glues, which make the batteries bulky and account for a significant part of the cost.

24M intends to greatly reduce the inactive material in a battery. According to estimates in the new paper, its batteries could achieve almost twice the energy densities of today's vehicle battery packs. Batteries with a higher energy density would be smaller and cheaper, which means electric and hybrid cars would be less expensive. The paper estimates that the batteries could cost as little as $250 per kilowatt hour—less than half what they cost now.

A conventional battery pack is made up of hundreds of cells. Each cell contains a stack of many thin, solid electrodes. These electrodes are paired with metal foil current collectors and separated from each other by plastic films. Increasing the energy storage requires adding more layers of electrode material—which in turn requires more layers of metal foil and plastic film.

24M's design makes it possible to increase energy storage without the extra metal foil and plastic film. The key difference is that the electrodes are not solid films stacked in a cell, but sludge-like materials stored in tanks—one for the positive electrode material and another for the negative electrode.

The materials are pumped from the tanks into a small device, where they move through channels carved into blocks of metal. As this happens, ions move from one electrode to the other through the same kind of separator material used in a conventional battery. Electrons make their way out of the material to an external circuit. In this design, increasing energy storage is as simple as increasing the size of the storage tanks—the device that allows the electrodes to interact stays the same size. The design also does away with the need to wire together hundreds of cells to achieve adequate energy storage.

The new battery is similar to something called a flow battery, in which two electrolytes are pumped past each other. But conventional flow batteries are about 10 times larger than the new design because they use dilute energy storage solutions, which makes them impractical for use in cars.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Technical
KEYWORDS: automobile; battery; energy; fuel

Battery prototype: Two sludge-like electrode materials are fed into the device shown here. The anode material flows into the top half, and the cathode flows into the bottom. Lithium ions pass from one material to the other, and electrons flow through the black and red leads. Credit: Yet-Ming Chiang

1 posted on 05/27/2011 11:33:14 AM PDT by Red Badger
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To: sully777; vigl; Cagey; Abathar; A. Patriot; B Knotts; getsoutalive; muleskinner; sausageseller; ...

Liquid Car Battery Ping!...........


2 posted on 05/27/2011 11:34:01 AM PDT by Red Badger (Jesus said there is no marriage in Heaven. That's why they call it Heaven............)
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To: Red Badger
“Batteries with a higher energy density would be smaller and cheaper, ...”

By definition, higher energy density means a smaller battery — however, it does not necessarily mean cheaper. For instance, lithium batteries have higher energy density than lead-acid batteries — they are also much more expensive.

3 posted on 05/27/2011 11:38:40 AM PDT by USFRIENDINVICTORIA
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To: Red Badger
I say go organic:


4 posted on 05/27/2011 11:38:44 AM PDT by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: Red Badger

http://gizmodo.com/5805875/the-knock+down-drag+out-fight-over-the-next-generation-of-batteries


5 posted on 05/27/2011 11:39:04 AM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
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To: Red Badger

Looks to me like MIT professor Yet–Ming Chiang, and the company he started, A123, is based on a lie.


6 posted on 05/27/2011 11:40:55 AM PDT by mamelukesabre (Si Vis Pacem Para Bellum (If you want peace prepare for war))
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To: Yo-Yo

I think the Chevy Volt is organic, by any definition it’s a lemon.


7 posted on 05/27/2011 11:43:17 AM PDT by Secret Agent Man (I'd like to tell you, but then I'd have to kill you.)
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To: Yo-Yo

And you can eat your battery!...................


8 posted on 05/27/2011 11:51:45 AM PDT by Red Badger (Jesus said there is no marriage in Heaven. That's why they call it Heaven............)
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To: Red Badger

Them’s some damn big alligator clips (red and black) if that’s really a car battery....


9 posted on 05/27/2011 11:52:58 AM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Gaffer
Them’s some damn big alligator clips (red and black) if that’s really a car battery....

It's not a car battery.

10 posted on 05/27/2011 11:54:34 AM PDT by SeeSac
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To: Red Badger
And you can eat your battery!...................

Imagine what you could do with a diesel-electric hybrid running on potato batteries and vegetable oil...

11 posted on 05/27/2011 11:58:17 AM PDT by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: Gaffer

I believe they are normal size clips. The device is most likely a lab setup to demonstrate viability, and is probably the size of a matchbox....................


12 posted on 05/27/2011 12:00:11 PM PDT by Red Badger (Jesus said there is no marriage in Heaven. That's why they call it Heaven............)
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To: Red Badger

Yeah, I knew....just makin a funny.....it bombed I guess.


13 posted on 05/27/2011 12:03:40 PM PDT by Gaffer
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To: SeeSac

Yeah, post a title that says car battery and then show a penlight battery...nice bait and switch...it was a damned joke, son.


14 posted on 05/27/2011 12:04:45 PM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Red Badger

“A startup hopes ...” to make a new kind of car battery?


15 posted on 05/27/2011 12:05:41 PM PDT by frithguild
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To: Yo-Yo

You win!!! You win!!! The chuckle of the day prize!!!!

Thanks soooooo much.

P.S. Is the photo-link publicly available for use??


16 posted on 05/27/2011 12:06:58 PM PDT by Wuli
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To: Gaffer
Yeah, post a title that says car battery and then show a penlight battery...nice bait and switch...it was a damned joke, son.

In bold, below the photo it says 'prototype'.

17 posted on 05/27/2011 12:09:34 PM PDT by SeeSac
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To: Wuli
P.S. Is the photo-link publicly available for use??

Haven't a clue. It's just a photo Google Images found for me. You can get the link by right clicking on the picture and choosing "Properties":

http://www.ee.washington.edu/images/events/2000/potato_battery.jpg

18 posted on 05/27/2011 12:09:42 PM PDT by Yo-Yo (Is the /sarc tag really necessary?)
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To: mamelukesabre
Thanks for the link. Interesting read. What caught my eye in the original article was sufficient to call into question the viability of Mr. Chiang's claims.

Challenges remain before the battery can be commercialized. The electrical conductivity is still about 100 times less than it should be in a practical system, Chiang says. He's also working on increasing the concentration of active materials in the sludge.

They should have reworded it to "the battery's internal resistance is 100 times higher". Probably adequate for frying grilled cheese sandwiches, but not for an electric car.
19 posted on 05/27/2011 12:10:04 PM PDT by PA Engineer (SP12: Time to beat the swords of government tyranny into the plowshares of freedom.)
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To: SeeSac

Okay, okay, okay...it’s not worth arguing about even if it should have said “reduced scale prototype”......my comment was still a joke (both first and second times)......


20 posted on 05/27/2011 12:12:00 PM PDT by Gaffer
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To: Yo-Yo

Got some giggling going on over here.


21 posted on 05/27/2011 12:33:46 PM PDT by savedbygrace (But God.)
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