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Noting tech needs, mining companies seek graphite

February 27, 2014 6:18 am | by Dan Joling - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

Tear apart an electric car's rechargeable battery and you'll find a mineral normally associated with No. 2 pencils. It's graphite. And experts say the promise of expanded uses for "pencil lead" in lithium-ion batteries, as well as a decrease in supply from China, has helped touch off the largest wave of mining projects in decades.

Nanotechnology may be key to solar energy and energy storage

February 25, 2014 1:40 pm | News | Comments

A new study from the International Electrotechnical Commission and the Fraunhofer Institute in Europe has found that nanotechnology will bring significant benefits to the energy sector, especially to energy storage and solar energy. Improved materials efficiency and reduced manufacturing costs are just two of the real economic benefits that nanotechnology already brings these fields and that’s only the beginning.

Microscopy system delivers real-time view of battery electrochemistry

February 19, 2014 3:17 pm | News | Comments

Using a new microscopy method, researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) can image and measure electrochemical processes in batteries in real time and at nanoscale resolution. Scientists at ORNL used a miniature electrochemical liquid cell that is placed in a transmission electron microscope to study an enigmatic phenomenon in lithium-ion batteries called the solid electrolyte interphase.

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Pomegranate-inspired design solves problems for lithium-ion batteries

February 18, 2014 8:46 am | News | Comments

An electrode designed like a pomegranate—with silicon nanoparticles clustered like seeds in a tough carbon rind—overcomes several remaining obstacles to using silicon for a new generation of lithium-ion batteries, say its inventors at Stanford Univ. and the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

A battery small enough to be injected, energetic enough to track salmon

February 18, 2014 8:36 am | News | Comments

Scientists have created a microbattery that packs twice the energy compared to current microbatteries used to monitor the movements of salmon through rivers in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. The battery, a cylinder just slightly larger than a long grain of rice, is certainly not the world's smallest battery, as engineers have created batteries far tinier than the width of a human hair. 

NREL report finds similar value in two concentrating solar technologies

February 12, 2014 10:04 am | News | Comments

Parabolic troughs and dry-cooled towers deliver similar value for concentrating solar power (CSP) plants, despite different solar profiles, a new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has found. The report found that the value of delivered energy of dry-cooled tower and parabolic trough CSP plants, integrated with thermal energy storage, are quite similar.

Researchers make breakthrough in battery technology

February 10, 2014 1:09 pm | News | Comments

Materials experts in Ireland have developed a new germanium nanowire-based anode that has the ability to greatly increase the capacity and lifetimes of lithium-ion batteries. The typical lithium-ion battery on the market today is based on graphite, which has a relatively low capacity for energy storage. Restructuring the germanium replacement material into nanowires produces a stable, porous battery material.

Gummy material addresses safety of lithium-ion batteries

February 4, 2014 8:39 am | by Tina Hilding, College of Engineering and Architecture | News | Comments

A group of Washington State Univ. researchers has developed a chewing gum-like battery material that could dramatically improve the safety of lithium-ion batteries. High-performance lithium batteries are popular in everything from computers to airplanes because they are able to store a large amount of energy compared to other batteries. Their biggest potential risk, however, comes from the electrolyte in the battery.

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Commercialization license to advance batteries for renewable energy storage

January 29, 2014 7:56 am | News | Comments

A Massachusetts startup has signed a license agreement with Battelle to commercialize battery technology that can help store large amounts of renewable energy and improve the reliability of the nation's power grid. The license with Lowell, Mass.-based WattJoule Corp. is expected to advance the commercial use of redox flow battery technology.

Researcher develops energy-dense sugar battery

January 21, 2014 11:34 am | News | Comments

A Virginia Tech research team has developed a battery that runs on sugar, using a non-natural synthetic enzymatic pathway that strip all charge potentials from the sugar. While other sugar batteries have been developed, this one has an energy density an order of magnitude higher than others, allowing it to run longer before needing to be refueled.

Battery development may extend range of electric cars

January 10, 2014 7:59 am | News | Comments

It's known that electric vehicles could travel longer distances before needing to charge and more renewable energy could be saved for a rainy day if lithium-sulfur batteries can just overcome a few technical hurdles. Now, a novel design for a critical part of the battery has been shown to significantly extend the technology's lifespan, bringing it closer to commercial use.

Disordered materials hold promise for better batteries

January 10, 2014 7:38 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Lithium batteries, with their exceptional ability to store power per a given weight, have been a major focus of research to enable use in everything from portable electronics to electric cars. Now researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Brookhaven National Laboratory have found a whole new avenue for such research: the use of disordered materials, which had generally been considered unsuitable for batteries.

A cheaper method of storing solar energy

January 8, 2014 9:45 am | News | Comments

By replacing platinum with molybdenum in photoelectrochemical cells, scientists from two Swiss labs have developed a cheaper and scalable technique that can greatly improve hydrogen production through water splitting as a means of storing solar energy.

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Spectroscopic technique could accelerate the push for better batteries

December 5, 2013 9:02 am | News | Comments

A new technique developed at the Advanced Light Source could help scientists better understand and improve the materials required for high-performance lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs) and other applications. The technique, which uses soft x-ray spectroscopy, measures something never seen before: the migration of ions and electrons in an integrated, operating battery electrode.

SolarCity to back up solar with Tesla batteries

December 5, 2013 12:36 am | by Jonathan Fahey, AP Energy Writer | News | Comments

The solar panel installer SolarCity is beginning to address one of solar power's big drawbacks: The sun doesn't always shine. The solution: big battery packs that will provide backup power while lowering electric bills. The supplier: electric car maker Tesla Motors, whose CEO Elon Musk is also the chairman of SolarCity.

Enhancing lithium-ion battery performance

November 20, 2013 9:41 am | News | Comments

Scientists worldwide are seeking ways to improve the power density, durability and overall performance of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. Researchers in Japan now report an advance in Li-ion battery technology that yields a significantly higher-performing battery. The difference is a cathode positive electrode of lithium cobalt oxide in which the compound's individual grains are aligned in a specific orientation.

Holistic cell design leads to high-performance lithium-sulfur battery

November 20, 2013 7:54 am | News | Comments

Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have demonstrated in the laboratory a lithium-sulfur battery that has more than twice the specific energy of lithium-ion batteries, and that lasts for more than 1,500 cycles of charge-discharge with minimal decay of the battery’s capacity. This is the longest cycle life reported so far for any lithium-sulfur battery.

Pressure cooking improves electric car batteries

November 19, 2013 7:12 am | by Sean Nealon, Univ. of California, Riverside | News | Comments

Batteries that power electric cars have problems. They take a long time to charge. The charge doesn’t hold long enough to drive long distances. They don’t allow drivers to quickly accelerate. They are big and bulky. By creating nanoparticles with controlled shape, engineers in California believe smaller, more powerful and energy-efficient batteries for vehicles can be built.

Scientists invent self-healing battery electrode

November 18, 2013 7:47 am | Videos | Comments

Researchers have made the first battery electrode that heals itself, opening a new and potentially commercially viable path for making the next generation of lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, cell phones and other devices. The secret is a stretchy polymer that coats the electrode, binds it together and spontaneously heals tiny cracks that develop during battery operation.

Better batteries through biology?

November 13, 2013 7:30 am | by David L. Chandler, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Lithium-air batteries have become a hot research area in recent years: They hold the promise of drastically increasing power per battery weight, which could lead, for example, to electric cars with a much greater driving range. But bringing that promise to reality has faced a number of challenges.

Calculations reveal shortcut to characterize zeolites

November 12, 2013 8:02 am | News | Comments

A computational method to quantify the adsorption of gas by porous zeolites should help labs know what to expect before they embark upon slow, costly experiments, according to researchers at Rice Univ. The new method created by engineers in Rice’s Multiscale Materials Modeling Lab accurately calculated the ability of two zeolites, small cage-like molecules with enormous surface area, to trap and store gas molecules.

Professor invents a flexible battery

November 5, 2013 2:33 pm | by Robert Florida, NJIT | News | Comments

Researchers at NJIT have developed a flexible battery made with carbon nanotubes that could potentially power electronic devices with flexible displays. According to its developers, this battery can be made as small as a pinhead or as large as a carpet in a living room.

Futuristic copper foam batteries get more bang for the buck

October 24, 2013 8:39 am | News | Comments

Amy Prieto, a chemist at Colorado State Univ. leads a start-up company with the goal of developing a lithium-ion battery that should be safer, cheaper, faster-charging, and more environmentally friendly than conventional batteries now on the market. The key to the technology is copper foam which is easy to manufacture and has high power density.

Forest waste used to develop cheaper, greener supercapacitors

October 24, 2013 7:42 am | News | Comments

Researchers report that wood-biochar supercapacitors can produce as much power as today’s activated-carbon supercapacitors at a fraction of the cost, and with environmentally friendly byproducts. In wood-biochar supercapacitors, the wood’s natural pore structure serves as the electrode surface, eliminating the need for advanced techniques to fabricate an elaborate pore structure. Wood biochar is produced by heating wood in low oxygen.

Why lithium-ion-batteries fail

October 18, 2013 9:48 am | by Peter Rüegg, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

Materials in lithium ion battery electrodes expand and contract during charge and discharge. These volume changes drive particle fracture, which shortens battery lifetime. A group of scientists has quantified this effect for the first time using high-resolution 3D movies recorded using x-ray tomography at the Swiss Light Source.

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