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Thin Films Could Boost Car Battery of Future
8/24/2011

Braun's three-dimensional open foam structure promotes efficient ion transfer, which translates to greater power and faster recharge times.
Braun's three-dimensional open foam structure promotes efficient ion transfer, which translates to greater power and faster recharge times.

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Beth Stackpole
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Blogger
Commercial possibilities
Beth Stackpole   8/24/2011 10:08:26 AM
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Sounds like a pretty promising technology for both hybrid vehicles and consumer electronics. Braun has started a company and you mention interest from large automotive OEMs. Does he have any backers or any infusion of capital to get this thing off the ground. A venture like this has to be pretty expensive.

Ivan Kirkpatrick
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Platinum
Reduced charging times
Ivan Kirkpatrick   8/24/2011 1:18:13 PM
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I think this has a lot of potential in consumer applications as noted.  It will also have a lot of potential in automotive eventually.  I would expect that the large currents required to charge a car size battery in minutes would not be available at the car owners house.

I consider the ability to recharge an electric vehicle overnight at pretty low cost to be one of the attractive features of an electric car.  Another one, just in passing, is the reduced maintenance and support systems required for electric cars.  An electric car has no exhaust system, radiator and similar "combustion engine" sub components that require additional maintenance over the years.

I used to work in a gas station long ago and it was not the cleanest place from an environmental point f view.  This is still true since many older gas stations have ground contamination from hydrocarbons and other "things" associated with combustion engines.  I think as little as 10 gallons of gasoline spilled constitutes a cleanup problem here in Florida.

Hopefully new charging stations using this technology would be much cleaner and environmentally friendly in supporting the electric car of the very near future.

Greg Stirling
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Thin Films Could Boost Car Battery of Future
Greg Stirling   8/24/2011 1:47:11 PM
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We pretty much all agree that improvements in electrical storage will eventually make numerous technologies more cost effective, and improve the performance, and range of our electrical vehicles.

Heck, it may even make my idea for an electric jet pack get off the ground...

3D_Eng
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Iron
Venture capital anyone?
3D_Eng   8/25/2011 10:30:30 AM
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Beth, I was thinking the same thing.  There are a lot of great products that never get off the ground due to lack of investment.  However,  in this economy, I would think that more venture capitalist (VC) would be looking for this type of investment opportunity. 

I almost hesitate to bring up the topic of "pork" but having worked in the R&D sector I have seen how pork can be the government version of VC.  I have seen firsthand how appropriations can move a technology from a great idea to a industry changing technology.  

Selling your congress person on this technology can also open the doors to avenues of federal money for commercial development that would otherwise be unavailable.  I don't think the general public has any idea how fundamental appropriations have been in helping bring R&D to the market.

Best of luck to Dr. Braun!

 

BobGroh
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Platinum
Thin film battery - interesting idea
BobGroh   8/25/2011 11:53:47 AM
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A nice report and I found the very reasonable projections for the new technology to be (as the report stated) 'refreshing'.  I think Dr. Braun has nailed it in his presentation of the possible roles for his new technolgy.  Bravo!

Jack Rupert, PE
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Platinum
Re: Venture capital anyone?
Jack Rupert, PE   8/25/2011 12:40:54 PM
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Rather than pork, maybe this is something one of the bigger players in the industry might want to invest in.  Sort of like Microsoft buying companies / ideas rather than developing themselves.

jmiller
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Platinum
Something I had not thought of.
jmiller   8/28/2011 6:34:52 PM
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I have to admit, I always thought the way to make electric cars feasible would be to have a replaceable battery that one would pick up at a gas station.  This type of rapid recharge technology would suddenly make that unecessary.  The ability to pull up and re-charge in the amount of time it takes to fill up a gas tank was something that I had not thought of.

This is the type of techoology that needs to be considered with further development if electric cars are going to become a viable option.

William K.
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Platinum
Thin film batteries and electric vehicle recharging
William K.   8/28/2011 7:11:45 PM
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I see two HUGE problems with the concept of exchanging batteries in order to get a charged one. First comes the probability of getting one that has seen a lot more use than the one you just turned in, otherwise known as "getting ripped off". That is the problem that may have a solution.

The other problem is that every manufacturer will have a different form factor, so that the batteries between models will not be interchangable. In addition to that problem, there is the fact that at least one well known Japanese auto company changes things just a bit every year so as to make it very hard for the manufacturers of aftermarket products to compete with them. So if there wind up being a dozen or more different styles of battery, which is very likely, and if each battery costs a minimum of $5000, it is easy to see that a charging station would wind up being a capital intensive business, even moreso if they need to keep several of each model battey o hand, in order to serve multiple customers.

One more concern is safety. All of the EV batteries so far have a several hundred volts terminal voltage, which is capable of causing both injury and damage. Of course there are all kinds of safety precautions that are available, but we all know that at some point the effort involved in safety precaution makes an operation unprofitable, meaning that folks will choose to not be in that business. 

Besides that, we have the reality, which has been demonstrated in cell phone and computer batteries, of authentication hardware and software added to prevent the use of any battery except the one that the manufacturer allows the owner to use. While this sort of feature may not inhibit the rechaged battery exchange system directly, it would definitely make the process much more complex. 

 

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