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New microbatteries a boost for electronics

April 17, 2013 7:57 am | News | Comments

Though they be but little, they are fierce. The most powerful batteries on the planet are only a few millimeters in size, yet they pack such a punch that a driver could use a cellphone powered by these batteries to jump-start a dead car battery—and then recharge the phone in the blink of an eye. Developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the new microbatteries out-power even the best supercapacitors.

Building a better capacitor with custom nanorods

April 16, 2013 1:00 pm | News | Comments

As an energy-storage material for batteries and capacitors, manganese dioxide has a lot going for it. However, chemical capacitors made with manganese dioxide have lacked the power of the typical carbon-based physical capacitor. A Michigan Technological University theorized that the situation could be improved if the manganese dioxide were made into nanorods, which are like nanotubes, only solid instead of hollow.

ORNL leads study focused on afterlife of electric vehicle batteries

April 15, 2013 4:15 pm | News | Comments

Once they've finished powering electric vehicles for hundreds of thousands of miles, it may not be the end of the road for automotive batteries. Five used Chevrolet Volt batteries are at the heart of Oak Ridge National Laboratory's effort to determine the feasibility of a community energy storage system that would put electricity onto the grid.

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Better batteries from waste sulfur

April 15, 2013 8:17 am | News | Comments

A new chemical process can transform waste sulfur into a lightweight plastic that may improve batteries for electric cars, reports a University of Arizona-led team. The new plastic has other potential uses, including optical uses. The team has successfully used the new plastic to make lithium-sulfur batteries.

Engineers craft material for high-performance supercapacitor

April 15, 2013 8:01 am | News | Comments

Taking a significant step toward improving the power delivery of systems ranging from urban electrical grids to regenerative braking in hybrid vehicles, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles have synthesized a material that shows high capability for both the rapid storage and release of energy.

Tin nanocrystals for the battery of the future

April 9, 2013 6:17 pm | by Fabio Bergamin, ETH Zurich | News | Comments

More powerful batteries could help electric cars achieve a considerably larger range and thus a breakthrough on the market. A new nanomaterial made from tiny tin crystals, deployed at the anode of lithium-ion batteries, has been developed in the labs of chemists in Europe and enables considerably more power to be stored in these batteries.

Tortuous paths hamper ion transport

April 9, 2013 5:15 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Switzerland have used X-ray tomography to screen lithium-ion battery electrodes and have reconstructed these microstructures in high resolution. The flow behavior of the lithium ions, they have found, can be described by what is known as tortuosity. To put it simply, the more twisted the path of the ions through the electrode, the more slowly the battery is charged or discharged.

Battery research at NSLS aims to solve energy storage challenges

April 5, 2013 9:17 am | News | Comments

The shrinking size and increasing capacity of batteries in the past few decades has made possible devices that have transformed everyday life. But small isn't the only frontier for battery technology. As the world enters its most energy-intensive era, the search is on for bigger, cheaper, and safer batteries that can capture, store, and efficiently use sustainable energy on a large scale. To determine how best to meet those large-scale energy needs, researchers are probing small-scale, off-the-shelf D-cell batteries.

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A longer life for lithium-sulfur batteries

April 4, 2013 4:39 pm | News | Comments

Electric cars are still an iffy proposition for most consumers because of the limited range offered by lithium-ion battery. A promising avenue of research is the lithium-sulfur battery, which is significantly more powerful and less expensive than the better-known lithium-ion battery. Although their short lifespan has made them unsuitable before now, this may be about to change if development work in Germany is successful.

Fake Shewanella reveals how bacteria breathe iron

March 26, 2013 8:13 am | News | Comments

Certain bacteria can breathe iron like we breathe oxygen. Understanding how they do so will help researchers use the microbes for cleaning up soil contaminants, for trapping carbon dioxide, or for making batteries out of bacteria. Now, a team of researchers report that proteins on the surface of bacteria produce an electric current by simply touching a mineral surface, allowing them to breathe the iron in the rock.

Boeing 787 makes test flight to check battery

March 25, 2013 10:27 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

A Boeing 787 with a redesigned battery system made a 2-hour test flight on Monday, and the company said the event "went according to plan." The test flight was an important step in Boeing Co.'s plan to convince safety regulators to let airlines resume using the plane, which the company calls the Dreamliner.

Hybrid ribbons a gift for powerful batteries

March 25, 2013 12:21 pm | by Mike Williams, Rice University | News | Comments

According to recent research at Rice University, vanadium oxide and graphene may be a key new set of materials for improving lithium-ion storage. Ribbons created at Rice from these two materials are thousands of times thinner than a sheet of paper, yet have potential that far outweighs current materials for their ability to charge and discharge very quickly. Initial capacity remains at 90% or more after more than 1,000 cycles.

Investigators scold Boeing over 787 comments

March 22, 2013 1:37 pm | by JOSHUA FREED - AP Business Writer - Associated Press | News | Comments

Boeing's comments about the smoldering batteries on its 787 have annoyed the National Transportation Safety Board. Boeing gave its own account of two battery incidents, which included a fire, at a detailed press briefing in Tokyo last week. The problem is that the NTSB is still investigating the incidents. Boeing is a party to the investigation, meaning it provides technical experts and, in effect, gets a seat at the table as investigators try to sort out what happened.

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Boeing reports 787 battery fix to Japan regulators

February 28, 2013 2:37 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Boeing CEO Ray Conner has met with Japan's transport minister and other officials in Tokyo to explain his company's proposal for resolving problems with the 787 Dreamliner's lithium-ion batteries that have kept the aircraft grounded for over a month.

Clever battery completes stretchable electronics package

February 27, 2013 8:05 am | News | Comments

Northwestern University’s Yonggang Huang and the University of Illinois’ John A. Rogers are the first to demonstrate a stretchable lithium-ion battery—a flexible device capable of powering their innovative stretchable electronics. Their battery continues to work—powering a commercial light-emitting diode (LED)—even when stretched, folded, twisted and mounted on a human elbow. The battery can work for eight to nine hours before it needs recharging, which can be done wirelessly.

Argonne, CalBattery strike deal

February 26, 2013 8:08 am | News | Comments

The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory and California Lithium Battery Inc. (CalBattery), a Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator portfolio company, announced that they have signed a licensing agreement for an Argonne-developed, silicon-graphene composite anode material for high-energy lithium batteries.

Japan identifies some Boeing 787 problems

February 21, 2013 11:19 pm | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

Japanese investigators have identified the causes of fuel leaks and other problems with Boeing's 787 but are still investigating the more serious battery problem that forced an emergency landing in January and the worldwide grounding of the jets. The Transport Ministry on Friday released the results of its investigation into problems that occurred with 787 Dreamliner jets in January.

Technique developed to scale up production of graphene microsupercapacitors

February 20, 2013 8:34 am | News | Comments

While the demand for ever-smaller electronic devices has spurred the miniaturization of a variety of technologies, one area has lagged behind in this downsizing revolution: energy storage units, such as batteries and capacitors. Now, a team from University of California, Los Angeles may have changed the game by developing a groundbreaking technique that uses a DVD burner to fabricate microscale graphene-based supercapacitors.

Japan probe finds miswiring of Boeing 787 battery

February 20, 2013 6:49 am | by The Associated Press | News | Comments

A probe into the overheating of a lithium ion battery in an All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 found it was improperly wired, Japan's Transport Ministry said Wednesday. The Transport Safety Board said in a report that the battery of the aircraft's auxiliary power unit was incorrectly connected to the main battery that overheated, although a protective valve would have prevented power from the APU from doing damage.

A new cheap, strong lithium-ion battery

February 12, 2013 11:18 am | News | Comments

Researchers at the University of Southern California have developed a new lithium-ion battery design that uses porous silicon nanoparticles in place of the traditional graphite anodes to provide superior performance. The new batteries hold three times as much energy as comparable graphite-based designs and recharge within 10 minutes.

U.N. agency moves to kill aircraft battery exemption

February 12, 2013 11:08 am | by JOAN LOWY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

A U.N. agency that sets global aviation safety standards is moving to prevent aircraft batteries like the one that caught fire on a Boeing 787 last month from being shipped as cargo on passenger planes, people familiar with the effort said.

New initiative to improve lithium-ion batteries

February 12, 2013 10:23 am | News | Comments

A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory team is working to improve lithium-ion battery performance, lifetime, and safety. Working with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the scientists are developing a new methodology for performing first-principles quantum molecular dynamics simulations at an unprecedented scale to understand key aspects of the chemistry and dynamics in lithium-ion batteries, particularly at interfaces.

US: 787 battery approval should be reconsidered

February 7, 2013 7:15 pm | by JOAN LOWY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The U.S. government should reassess its safety approval of the Boeing 787's lithium ion batteries, America's top accident investigator said Thursday, casting doubt on whether the airliner's troubles can be remedied quickly.

Netzsch, NREL announce partnership

February 7, 2013 11:29 am | News | Comments

Netzsch Instrument North America LLC and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have announced a joint collaboration to develop an instrument designed to test the performance and safety of large-format lithium-ion batteries (LFLIB). The instrumentation will be able to safely and accurately characterize heat output and efficiency of LFLIB, in varying temperature, pressure, load, and use conditions.

NTSB: Plane batteries not necessarily unsafe

February 6, 2013 12:20 pm | by JOAN LOWY - Associated Press - Associated Press | News | Comments

The use of lithium ion batteries to power aircraft systems isn't necessarily unsafe despite a battery fire in one Boeing 787 Dreamliner and smoke in another, but manufacturers need to build in reliable safeguards, the nation's top aviation safety investigator said Wednesday.

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