While we may have a good understanding of battery application and potential, we still lack a great deal of knowledge about what is actually happening inside a battery cell during cycles. In an effort to build a better battery, ECS members from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have made a novel development to improve battery performance testing.

Future of energy

The team’s work focuses on the design and placement of the reference electrode (RE), which measure voltage of the individual electrodes making up a battery cell, to enhance the quality of information collected from lithium-ion battery cells during cycles. By improving our knowledge of what’s happening inside the battery, researchers will more easily be able to develop longer-lasting batteries.

“Such information is critical, especially when developing batteries for larger-scale applications, such as electric vehicles, that have far greater energy density and longevity requirements than typical batteries in cell phones and laptop computers,” said Daniel Abraham, ECS member and co-author of the newly published study in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society. “This kind of detailed information provides insight into a battery cell’s health; it’s the type of information that researchers need to evaluate battery materials at all stages of their development.”

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When we think of carbon and the environment, our minds often develop a negative association between the two in light of things such as greenhouse gases and climate change. But what if carbon is the answer to clean energy?

A team of researchers at Griffith University is looking toward carbon to lead the way in the clean energy revolution. Their latest research showed that carbon could be used to produce hydrogen from water. This could offer a potential replacement for the costly platinum materials currently used.

“Hydrogen production through an electrochemical process is at the heart of key renewable energy technologies including water splitting and hydrogen fuel cells,” says Professor Xiangdong Yao, leader of the research group. “We have now developed this carbon-based catalyst, which only contains a very small amount of nickel and can completely replace the platinum for efficient and cost-effective hydrogen production from water.”

(MORE: Learn about the future of electrochemical energy.)

This from Griffith University:

Proponents of a hydrogen economy advocate hydrogen as a potential fuel for motive power including cars and boats and on-board auxiliary power, stationary power generation (e.g., for the energy needs of buildings), and as an energy storage medium (e.g., for interconversion from excess electric power generated off-peak).

Read the full article.

The researchers also believe that these findings could open the door for new development in large-scale water electrolysis.

Bill & Melinda Gates FoundationThe Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has been fighting the good fight on many fronts over the years, including poverty, women’s equality, and of course, energy.

In their 2016 annual letter, the private foundation looked at the issue of access to energy. According to Bill Gates, 1.3 billion people – or 18 percent of the world’s population – live without electricity to light their homes.

Energy crisis

Many energy trouble areas exist in sub-Saharan Africa, where 7 out of 10 people live in the dark. The same problems exist in parts of Asia and India where more than 300 million people lack access to electricity.

(MORE: Take a look at the work that ECS has done with the Gates Foundation to tackle critical issues in water and sanitation.)

There are still many parts of the world that have yet to reap the benefits of Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb.

But it’s not just about light. Energy allows better medical care through functioning hospitals, greater educational efforts through functioning schools, and even more food through the powering of agricultural devices.

Renewable energy revolution

Not only is the provision of energy to all people essential, but the research into finding a clean, efficient way to do so is also crucial. ECS members and scientists across the globe are currently making effort to combat climate change, which is consequentially poised to hit the world’s poor the hardest.

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Importance of Energy Storage

While society as a whole is moving toward cleaner, more renewable energy sources, there is one key component that is typically glossed over in the energy technology conversation: energy storage.

Developments in solar and wind are critical in the battle against climate change, but without advances in energy storage, our efforts may fall short. What happens when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing?

The folks at Popular Science are providing a friendly analogy to explain the the importance of energy storage.

Fighting the good fight in energy technology? Present your work at IMLB! Submit your abstracts today!

Member Spotlight – Ryohei Mori

The aluminum-air battery has the potential to serve as a short-term power source for electric vehicles.Image: Journal of The Electrochemical Society

The aluminum-air battery has the potential to serve as a short-term power source for electric vehicles.
Image: Journal of The Electrochemical Society

A new long-life aluminum-air battery is set to resolve challenges in rechargeable energy storage technology, thanks to ECS member Ryohei Mori.

Mori’s development has yielded a new type of aluminum-air battery, which is rechargeable by refilling with either salt or fresh water.

The research is detailed in an open access article in the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, where Mori explains how he modified the structure of the previous aluminum-air battery to ensure a longer battery life.

Theoretically, metal-air technology can have very high energy densities, which makes it a promising candidate for next-generation batteries that could enable such things as long-range battery-electric vehicles.

However, the long-standing barrier of anode corrosion and byproduct accumulation have halted these batteries from achieving their full potential. Dr. Mori’s recently published paper, “Addition of Ceramic Barriers to Aluminum-Air batteries to Suppress By-product Formation on Electrodes,” details how to combat this issue.

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Norwegian entrepreneur, Jostein Eikeland, is finally unveiling the development his has been working on in secret for the past decade in hopes to jolt the world of energy storage.

Eikeland and his company Alevo plan to reveal a battery that will last longer and cost far less than the current rival technologies. To do this, they have developed a technology that is to store excess electricity generated by power plants.

This from Reuters:

The company has created what it calls GridBanks, which are shipping containers full of thousands of battery cells. Each container can deliver 2 megawatts of power, enough to power up to 1,300 homes for an hour. The batteries use lithium iron phosphate and graphite as active materials and an inorganic electrolyte – what Eikeland called the company’s “secret sauce” – that extends longevity and reduces the risk of burning. They can be charged and discharged over 40,000 times, the company said.

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Microgrid

Microgrids are small power systems that are able to function independently when storms or other emergencies knock out electricity.
Credit: Center for Sustainable Energy

New York state will be holding a $40 million energy technology competition this fall in order to aid research that will allow local communities to retain power during outages.

This from Associated Press:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the New York Prize competition, which would award funding to companies or utilities that suggest the best ways to create so-called “microgrids.” Microgrids are small power systems that are able to function independently when storms or other emergencies knock out electricity.

The microgrids will allow for hospitals, schools, water plants, and even homes to hold energy when the main electrical grid is not working.

Cuomo is to launch the competition this fall.

If you find this concept interesting and would like to partake in solving some of the most challenging issues in the world today, check out the details on ECS’s 2014 Electrochemical Energy and Water Summit.

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