As everyone knows, lack of a suitable battery prevents the widespread use of electric cars. While lithium batteries boast the highest energy density of any rechargeable, cobalt in the cathode keeps cost high--a lithium battery for an electric vehicle prices about $20,000. Computer modeling, conducted by a research team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, Massachusetts), predicts a less expensive replacement material. Follow-on tests verify that a cathode made from a mixture of lithium aluminum oxide and lithium cobalt oxide could not only decrease battery cost by a significant margin, but increase cell voltage. In addition, related studies have revealed a flexible solid-polymer electrolyte. Combined, these materials offer new hope for the electric car. The research is funded in part by Furnkawa Electric Company and the U.S. Department of Energy. Pacific Lithium Ltd. has licensed a number of the patent applications submitted by the MIT inventors. For more details, e-mail Elizabeth Thomson at the MIT News Office, email@example.com.
Two researchers from Cornell University have won a $100,000 grant from NASA to continue work to develop an energy-harvesting robotic eel the space agency aims to use to explore oceans on one of the moons of Jupiter.
Is the factory smarter than it used to be? From recent buzzwords, you’d think we’ve entered a new dimension in industrial plants, where robots run all physical functions wirelessly and humans do little more than program ever more capable robotics. Some of that is actually true, but it’s been true for a while.
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