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Slideshow: Designing Liquid-Based Batteries for EVs & Renewables

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Elizabeth M
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What will emerge as the next generation?
Elizabeth M   9/11/2013 8:58:35 AM
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Perhaps no area of research today is as ripe with innovation and new designs as batteries, but it's still unclear what's going to emerge as the next-generation design not just for devices, but also EVs and large-scale energy storage. It certainly won't be a one-size-fits-all situation, but some designs must emerge at some point as those that provide the best fit for the particular job and are commercially viable. Energy harvesting, too, is muddying this field of research and will certainly augment some of these new designs as well.

naperlou
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Re: What will emerge as the next generation?
naperlou   9/11/2013 11:50:44 AM
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Elizabeth, this is a very interesting set of technologies.  While, as your last slide shows, lithium-ion may be improeved to be a viable contender in the long run, I firmly believe that the winner will be another technology.  We will see.  It is good, and important, to see that other technologies are being pursued.  I especially like the GE approach as it seems that it would be much safer.  This is an important condideration.  I wonder if it will be lighter, though.

Charles Murray
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Re: What will emerge as the next generation?
Charles Murray   9/11/2013 7:17:56 PM
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I agree, naperlou. I don't believe lithium-ion will ultimately offer the answer. Most material scientists say that they expect it to top out between 175-200 Wh/kg, and we are rapidly approaching those numbers. The reason, they say, is that batteries typically don't exceed 40% of their theoretical specific energy, and lithium-ion is already there. For now, it looks like lithium-sulfur will be a better bet. In the long run, maybe lithium-air.

vimalkumarp
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Re: What will emerge as the next generation?
vimalkumarp   9/12/2013 3:08:23 AM
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indeed it is  still unclear what's going to emerge as the next-generation design not just for devices, but also EVs and large-scale energy storage. Energy harvesting will definitely change the way we look at engergy sources in modern times.

Elizabeth M
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Re: What will emerge as the next generation?
Elizabeth M   9/12/2013 8:09:16 AM
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Yes, Lou, I think you're right as well. With all the research I'm seeing, I believe scientists will come up with a far better alternative to lithium-ion. I think that technology may soon outlive it's usefulness. I think also some of the recent problems we've seen with it (ie, fires etc.) are inspiring people to work faster to find a different chemistry that offers not only better performance but also safety.

Elizabeth M
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Re: What will emerge as the next generation?
Elizabeth M   9/12/2013 8:14:20 AM
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Yes, it's not a sure thing what will come next but I think you're right, vimalkumarp, energy harvesting will have a key role in future energy sources, including how energy is stored (ie, the type of storage could be dependent on the type of harvester--you're seeing this effect in new batteries that are emerging for wind and solar). This makes work like what you're doing even more relevant.

vimalkumarp
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Re: What will emerge as the next generation?
vimalkumarp   9/12/2013 8:44:33 AM
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@Elizabeth: Another important aspect is the need to be liberated from the clutches of oil which will soon be depleted. it is a challenge and to find a solution for that is the need of the hour.

phantasyconcepts
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Re: What will emerge as the next generation?
phantasyconcepts   9/12/2013 12:15:08 PM
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To be fair, Li-ion batteries will still have their uses.  If I am understanding the 'flow battery' design properly, it is geared towards larger applications at least initially.  The Lithium Ion battery would have applications where such a system is impractical, like home power tools, flashlight batteries, and so forth.  Toys are another area where LiIon batteries might find a home.  The problem with maintaining a separate storage tank and voltage regulator is a need for space and proper design.  Toy makers have gotten used to the packaging of batteries in their current form, and design toys around the standard sized power cells.  The same goes for phone products and watches and pocket calculators, all of which will continue to be used for generations to come.  It took decades for batteries to evolve into their current form factors, and efficient or not, the AA, AAA, C, D, and 'watch' batteries still have their appropriate uses.  Sure, there are more efficient batteries that provide longer charges, more power, and smaller size than a AA battery, but a two-year-old is less likely to swallow a AA battery than a tiny thin-film battery.  Besides, 'water-based' is just like asking a thirsty person to 'drink me' and that would most likely be very dangerous.

Chuck_IAG
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Re: What will emerge as the next generation?
Chuck_IAG   9/12/2013 2:49:28 PM
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@vimalkumarp: I'm thinking more that it's a challenge for the next 50-100 years, rather than immediately.  In terms of climate change, for example, increased electricity generation to cover expanded EV adoption might offset any perceived environmental benefits of EVs for a while. (What would be really great is a moonshot-level effort to convert coal extraction and usage to a more acceptable energy-generating source.) 

As to energy security, we're moving in that direction pretty rapidly with or without the potential impact of an EV.  And I'd personally like an electric Tesla-like sport car, but I also appreciate the benefits of ICE cars of the present, especially as manufacturers continue to find ways to improve efficiencies and clean up exhaust flows.

I'm fascinated by the potential of the flow battery design.  I'd never heard of it before.  It seems to harbor the same range-extending potential as inserting a larger gas tank into an existing ICE car design.  Very cool.  But like fusion and fuel cells, it appears to be another one of those solutions that's 10 years away.

Chuck_IAG
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Re: What will emerge as the next generation?
Chuck_IAG   9/12/2013 2:55:25 PM
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@phantasyconcepts: Hmm.  Although I generally agree with your comments, I question that last one.  When's the last time you chugged down the 'water-based' contents of your car's radiator or lead-acid battery?  We have to assume most people won't be stupid, or we might as well remove cars from the road, along with bicycles, scooters, and curbs on sidewalks.

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