Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Current events in research…

Posted by Casey Tompkins on January 19, 2008

Instapundit recently linked to this article about new battery research.

Apparently some nano-tech research done at Stanford’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering indicates that it might be possible to increase the life of a rechargeable lithium-ion batteries by a tremendous amount. The article mentioned the possibility of reaching a 40-hour life.

That’s fantastic compared to current (excuse the pun) batteries. I agree with Professor Reynolds: “Bring it on!”

Something else occurs to me; is it possible to scale this technology up? Forty hours at 40 mph could give an electric car a 1600 mile range. Forty hours might be unrealistic (at least at first) but the possibilities are intriguing.

This post originally published at the Gantry Launchpad.

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5 Responses to “Current events in research…”

  1. jan said

    The forty hour charge is based not only on how much charge can be held by the battery, but also on how much power is required by the device. So a low-drain device like a laptop/ipod/cell phone/pda/etc will go a long way. A higher drain device like a digital camera will get less time out of this, but will still have greatly improved battery life.

    Scaling up to a car would be problematic, and not just because an electric motor sufficient to move a car requires a lot of electrons, but because it requires them at a high discharge rate. So not only does such a battery need to store a lot of electrons, it needs to release them very quickly, and the internal architecture of the battery needs to transport the electrons released efficiently and at consistently high rates to the motor. Still, I think that this would certainly improve matters, even if you couldn’t get 40 hours out of it.

    One other thing that I read this week about silicon nanowires is that they will also work for generating electricity from heat. Silicon at greater thicknesses isn’t suitable, but it’s heat conductivity changes at nanoscale. Thermo-conductors generate electrons when one end is cold and the other end hot – electrons will automatically flow from hot to cold. This provides a way to recapture energy from devices that generate heat (like electric motors).

    Lots of nifty stuff happening these days! I think that as we explore more substances at nanoscale, we’ll likely find more things that have different and interesting properties than they do at macroscale. (Which isn’t really surprising if you consider the differences between classical physics and quantum physics…)

  2. Heh, Casey. Bet you didn’t think I had a high-grade gummint chemist on hand to answer questions around here, didja?

  3. jan said

    Well, you can ask… I don’t promise to know the answers!

  4. Thanks, Jan, for the explanation. I was wondering about that too…

  5. Anonymous said

    free car quote

    Excellent post. Keep it up!

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