You raise an interesting point. May I offer some guesses as to why this change has occurred? First, a lot of the "cheap and simple" inventions have already been perfected, especially the ones that a private person could accomplish with modest resources. I am thinking of the Wright Flyer, and perhaps the deForest Audion. More complicated inventions (like this barrery) require long efforts by well equipped labs and teams of collaborators supported by big corporations or government facilities. Examples of the former included the famous Bell Labs and the RCA Sarnoff Lab. These days big companies are much more concerned with with short-term profits--next quarter, or at best the next year. They dare not invest heavily in some project that might, with luck, succeed a decade after the CEO has moved on with his wheelbarrows full of benefits. This leaves mostly publicly supported research to solve the long range problems, and regardless of ideology, we have to admit that many such programs have succeeded, including the development of radar, the Manhattan Project, the space program, and the human genome project. Since the results supposedly benefit the general public, is it unreasonable that the public chip in to finance them?
As I said in the beginning, this is an off-the-cuff response, so I welcome replies from others with numbers and data to support or refute these comments.
Yes, Lou, as we sometimes forget it often takes awhile for things to get out of the lab and into the commercial market. This took six years to get this far, so it will probably take substantially more to turn it into a viable battery. And, as you say, this is why it's taken so long likely for the EV to materialize in a meaningful way.
Great to see advances made in battery technology, even if it is just preliminary, research stage work. We definitely need more effecient energy storage.
I just read about the facility in Germany that is using "green" electricity to break down water into Hydrogen which is then injected into existing natural gas lines. They say that the natural gas absorbs the Hydrogen.
Has anyone tried the bamboo / coconut formulated battery like the professor did on Gilligan's Island? ;) ;) ;)
TJ- I would disagree that patent law has much to do with the rise of government's importance in basic research. I would surmise that several other factors play into this with more importance.
One factor is that most (if not all) the low lying fruit has already been discovered (if it was easy, it's been done). Back in the Bose/Edison/Tesla days, you could (had to) make your own devices (electronic components were all hand made including vacuum tubes and diodes). Anybody with intelligence and time could tinker with the most exotic (then) technologies.
Another factor is that outside of the orient, the bean counters and business majors running our corporations these days don't see past 6 months, much less 5 years, much less the decade or two it will take to commercialize new, advanced technology. In the Orient, lack of concern over large monopolies, tax laws tuned to long term results, and government subsidies for commercial development make sure that their basic research and development is well funded. Even Europe is more tuned in to the long term (ask yourself; who owns Bell Labs right now?)
This development is a ray of hope that there are better solutions in development for energy storage and that these solutions may not depend on exotic materials controlled by only a few (potentially hostile) nations.
Yes, it does look promising, and there seem to be some great minds at work here, Rob. I hate to say that researchers seem to be "throwing things at the wall to see what sticks" when it comes to battery altneratives, but there do seem to be a lot of new options they are working on. But that's a good thing! The only way to come up with a new viable alternative to Li is to keep experimenting. I suppose we'll see what sticks in due time.
The numbers here are in line with what we've seen the past, except for the cycle life, which is much better. I know researchers who are getting 100-200 cycles on lithium-sulfur, and even that is very good. Three hundred cycles -- which is what they're getting here -- is off the charts. The theoretical max energy capacity of lithium-sulfur is about 1,675 Ah/kg. If you can get 75% of that, you're doing great. The timeline for development of batteries like these is estimated to be about 20 years, and most of the people who I've talked to say we're about five years into that timeline.
I wonder about the statement that the battery can be cycled 300 times at 60 C. Perhaps this suggest tht the battery has to be operated at elevated temperatures, which makes sense since solid state materials often conduct much better when hotter. This would mean the battery would only be good on big things used constantly, such as delivery trucks or buses or things that can have good surrounding insulation. For personal cars, having to keep the battery hot means burning energy, which likely offsets any potential efficiency gains. Forget the cellphone. You would not want 60 C next to your ear or having so much insulation to keep the heat in that the phone would no longer be portable.
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