Researchers from Argonne National Laboratory and Oregon State University have developed new cathode architecture for lithium-sulfur batteries. The team, led by ECS member Khalil Amine, incorporated graphene and sulfide nanoparticles to improve electrical conductivity in the promising lithium-sulfur batteries.

Lithium-sulfur batteries hold major promise as researchers explore the range of energy storage technologies. With an extremely high theoretical energy density, these batteries have the potential to store up to five times as much energy as today’s best lithium-ion battery.

But there are barriers preventing that theoretical density from becoming an actual density. Namely, the discharge products of sulfur electrodes and cycling intermediates produced.

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Open AccessOn June 21, publishing giant Elsevier won a legal judgement against websites like Sci-Hub, which illicitly offer access to over 60 million academic articles. The court ruled in Elsevier’s favor, awarding the publisher $15 million in damages for copyright infringement.

Since its establishment in 2011, Sci-Hub has become one of the most recognized sites in unauthorized paper sharing. Recent data suggests that the site receives upwards of 28 million download requests in just six months. However, Sci-Hub and other related sites were found to violate U.S. copyright laws in 2015. While the court filed an injunction, many continued providing free access to the otherwise paywalled content.

(RELATED: Open Access vs. Illegal Access)

Now, Elsevier is taking the fight to these websites. According to Nature, Elsevier holds copyrights for the largest share of the 28 million papers downloaded from Sci-Hub among all publishers. Further, copyrights for nearly 50 percent of all articles hosted on sites like Sci-Hub are held by three major publishers: Elseiver, Springer-Nature, and Wiley-Blackwell.

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In May 2017, we sat down with Subhash Singhal, a world leader in the study of solid oxide fuel cells, at the 231st ECS Meeting in New Orleans. The conversation was led by Rob Gerth, director of marketing and communications at ECS.

Singhal is a Batelle Fellow and Director of Fuel Cells at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and the lead organizer of the upcoming 15th International Symposium on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC-XV), taking place in Hollywood, Florida, July 23-28, 2017. Additionally, he is an ECS fellow, has served on the Society’s board of directors, and received the ECS Outstanding Achievement Award in High Temperature Materials.

Listen to the podcast and download this episode and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher and Acast.

PS: There’s still time to register for SOFC-XV! Advanced registration and hotel reservations end June 30! Register and book your hotel today!

Electric VehiclesUsing energy stored in the batteries of electric vehicles to power large buildings not only provides electricity for the building, but also increases the lifespan of the vehicle batteries, new research shows.

Researchers have demonstrated that vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology can take enough energy from idle electric vehicle (EV) batteries to be pumped into the grid and power buildings—without damaging the batteries.

This new research into the potentials of V2G shows that it could actually improve vehicle battery life by around ten percent over a year.

For two years, Kotub Uddin, a senior research fellow at the University of Warwick’s Warwick Manufacturing Group, and his team analyzed some of the world’s most advanced lithium ion batteries used in commercially available EVs—and created one of the most accurate battery degradation models existing in the public domain—to predict battery capacity and power fade over time, under various aging acceleration factors—including temperature, state of charge, current, and depth of discharge.

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BatteryA new breakthrough in electrolyte chemistry, led by ECS member Shirley Meng, is paving a new road in lithium-ion battery performance, allowing devices to operate at temperatures as low as -60° Celsius.

Currently, lithium-ion batteries stop operating around -20° Celsius. By developing an electrolyte that allows the battery to operate at a high efficiency at a much colder temperature, researchers believe it could allow electric vehicles in cold climates to travel further on a single charge. Additionally, the technology could allow battery-powered devices, such as WiFi drones, to function in extreme cold conditions.

(MORE: Read ECS’s interview with Meng, “The Future of Batteries.”)

This from UC San Diego:

The new electrolytes also enable electrochemical capacitors to run as low as -80 degrees Celsius — their current low temperature limit is -40 degrees Celsius. While the technology enables extreme low temperature operation, high performance at room temperature is still maintained. The new electrolyte chemistry could also increase the energy density and improve the safety of lithium batteries and electrochemical capacitors.

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SOFC-XVThe 15th International Symposium on Solid Oxide Fuel Cells (SOFC-XV) is set to take place in Hollywood, FL, July 23-27, 2017.

This symposium will bring together scientists, engineers, and researchers from academia, industry, and government laboratories to share results and discuss issues related to solid oxide fuel cells and electrolyzers.

Register

SOFC got its roots in 1989 when Subhash Singhal, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory Battelle Fellow, initiated the symposium. After 28 years, Singhal is taking the conference back to its birthplace, drawing scientists and engineers from around across the globe.

“We have formed a world-wide community of solid oxide fuel cell researchers,” Singhal says. “Before this symposium, people were scattered among different professional societies and different scientific disciplines. This conference has been instrumental in bringing everyone together.”

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SolarResearchers have developed a new kind of semiconductor alloy capable of capturing the near-infrared light located on the edge of the visible light spectrum.

Easier to manufacture and at least 25 percent less costly than previous formulations, it’s believed to be the world’s most cost-effective material that can capture near-infrared light—and is compatible with the gallium arsenide semiconductors often used in concentrator photovoltaics.

Concentrator photovoltaics gather and focus sunlight onto small, high-efficiency solar cells made of gallium arsenide or germanium semiconductors. They’re on track to achieve efficiency rates of over 50 percent, while conventional flat-panel silicon solar cells top out in the mid-20s.

“Flat-panel silicon is basically maxed out in terms of efficiency,” says Rachel Goldman, a professor of materials science and engineering, as well as physics at the University of Michigan, whose lab developed the alloy. “The cost of silicon isn’t going down and efficiency isn’t going up. Concentrator photovoltaics could power the next generation.”

Varieties of concentrator photovoltaics exist today. They are made of three different semiconductor alloys layered together. Sprayed onto a semiconductor wafer in a process called molecular-beam epitaxy—a bit like spray painting with individual elements—each layer is only a few microns thick. The layers capture different parts of the solar spectrum; light that gets through one layer is captured by the next.

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Scientists have found a way to wirelessly transmit electricity to a nearby moving object.

The method may have applications in transportation, medical devices, and more. If electric cars could recharge while driving down a highway, for example, it would virtually eliminate concerns about their range and lower their cost, perhaps making electricity the standard fuel for vehicles.

“In addition to advancing the wireless charging of vehicles and personal devices like cellphones, our new technology may untether robotics in manufacturing, which also are on the move,” says Shanhui Fan, a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University and senior author of the study.

“We still need to significantly increase the amount of electricity being transferred to charge electric cars, but we may not need to push the distance too much more,” he says.

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Unpiloted underwater vehicles (UUVs) are used for a wide array of tasks, including exploring ship wreckage, mapping the ocean floor, and military applications. Now, a team from MIT has developed an aluminum-water power system that will allow UUVs to become safer, more durable, and have ten times more range compared to UUVs powered by lithium-ion batteries.

“Everything people want to do underwater should get a lot easier,” says Ian Salmon Mckay, co-inventor of the device. “We’re off to conquer the oceans.”

The aluminum-water power system is a direct response to lithium-ion batteries, which have a limited energy density causing service ships to chaperone UUVs while at sea, recharging the batteries when necessary. Additionally, UUV lithium-ion batteries have to be encased in expensive metal pressure vessels, making the battery both short-lived and pricey for use in UUVs.

This from MIT:

In contrast, [Open Water Power’s] power system is safer, cheaper, and longer-lasting. It consists of a alloyed aluminum, a cathode alloyed with a combination of elements (primarily nickel), and an alkaline electrolyte that’s positioned between the electrodes.

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In May 2017, we sat down with Kathy Ayers, vice president of research and development for Proton OnSite, at the 231st ECS Meeting in New Orleans. The conversation was led by Amanda Staller, web content specialist at ECS.

Ayer’s work focuses on a multitude of energy technologies, including fuel cells, batteries, and solar cells. Currently, her work targets the production of hydrogen by PEM electrolysis. She has been a member of ECS since 1999, lending her expertise to various Society programs and meeting symposia along the way.

Listen to the podcast and download this episode and others for free through the iTunes Store, SoundCloud, or our RSS Feed. You can also find us on Stitcher and Acast.

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