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Future Batteries, by the Numbers
10/12/2012

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Combining lithium and sulfur, materials scientists hope to boost energy by a factor of four or more over today's lithium-ion batteries.
Combining lithium and sulfur, materials scientists hope to boost energy by a factor of four
or more over today's lithium-ion batteries.

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bobjengr
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Future Batteries
bobjengr   1/15/2013 4:56:57 PM
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Charles, I agree completely with you on this point.  I'm driving a Toyota Pre-Runner and I cannot justify an EV at $40k as a replacement.  I have a 74 mile round-trip commute every day to one client.  Right now, until the industry can generate more miles between charges and bring down the purchase price, an EV is just not in my future. 

Rob Spiegel
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Re: Good to see new research
Rob Spiegel   10/15/2012 11:09:33 PM
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I agree, Chuck. The lithium-ion battery seems to have hit a wall. But who knows. In the time it takes for a battery based on alternative chemestry becomes feasible, the lithium-ion battery may have sacled its wall.

Charles Murray
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Re: Vehicle life
Charles Murray   10/15/2012 10:24:18 PM
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Good point, Dennis. I drive a car with 175,000 miles on it and I believe it's got at least another 75,000 left. My son drives a car with 190,000 miles on it. Average vehicle life has soared over the last 20 years. Regarding high volume EVs: You hit it on the head. The key lies in your use of the words "high volume." Pure EVs are great, fun vehicles to drive, but the average consumer can't afford a second car that costs $30,000 to $40,000. Until higher energy batteries are readily available and until cost drops, pure EVs will see low volumes.

Charles Murray
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Re: Good to see new research
Charles Murray   10/15/2012 10:15:42 PM
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I agree, Rob. If EV battery chemistries are going to come remotely close to what gasoline already gives us, this is the way it will happen. The people I spoke to said we have to be ready to move beyond lithium-ion, and the ARPA-e program is a great way to start doing that.  

RMenon
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Re: EV's are not green
RMenon   10/15/2012 7:52:34 PM
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@Contrarian - Be prepared for news headlines like "heavy rains and flooding take toll on cardboard bikes".  Will be drying the bike for a long time to use it as fuel to keep warm over the winter nights.

William K.
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Future batteries, What will they be?
William K.   10/15/2012 3:34:05 PM
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First, we need to acknowldge that Moore's law only applies to the manufacturing technology side of product advancement. What batteries need now is a discovery of additional physics and chemistry functionality. So the advances are not guarranteed. The other challenge is that even after discovering some combination that will provide some mechanism for greater energy storage, it will still need to be made durable and inexpensive and cheap to manufacture. Just because something works in a simulation model, or even in a laboratory, does not mean that it can ever be practical or producable. Reality can be so very harsh.

It really would be very funny for some fantastic battery technology to be developed, and then have it forbidden in the state of california because it was "toxic". Actually, it might point out the folly of letting emotions run your show. I would certainly be one to laugh loud and long if it happened.

Contrarian
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EV's are not green
Contrarian   10/15/2012 11:56:57 AM
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It would be interesting to hear from the environmentalist 9green) lobby if it turns out that the only method of improving EV technology involves toxic materials

 

Little about any EV is "green".  When you factor in all that goes into raw materials (plastic, metal, rubber, electronics), fabrication, energy storage, operation/maintenance and disposal (plus the roads they're driven on) all vehicles are a messy proposition.  EV's are the great fallacy of green initiatives.  If it were up to the enviroweenies we'd all be driving these:


<http://kottke.org/12/09/the-9-cardboard-bicycle>

 

Bunter
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Vehicle life
Bunter   10/15/2012 11:47:31 AM
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The one comment given that the Lithium-Sulfur battery could be looking at a vehicle life of 150K miles seems really short sighted to me.  Many vehicles today break 200k or even 300k without major repairs.

Interesting article.

More than anyone else I've read Charles, you have convinced me (through the data presented) that a commercially viable, high volume, EV is still quite a way in the future.

Dennis

Battar
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Just for cars?
Battar   10/15/2012 11:41:51 AM
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It stands to reason that any improvement in battery energy density technology will first be applied to less demanding applications, such as mobile computing and communication devices, and only later scaled up to the kilowatt range demanded by transportation. In fact, the technology might not prove to be scalable at all.

It would be interesting to hear from the environmentalist 9green) lobby if it turns out that the only method of improving EV technology involves toxic materials (such as lead-acid). Would it be banned in California?

Rob Spiegel
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Good to see new research
Rob Spiegel   10/14/2012 10:25:58 PM
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Chuck, while the payoff for new battery chemistry may be years away, it's good to see this deep research going on. There is a ton of common technology that wouldn't exist now if not for the deep, raw research.

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