The Search for a Super Battery

From electric vehicles to grid storage for renewables, batteries are key components in many of tomorrow’s innovations. But current commercialized batteries face problems of price, efficiency, safety, and life-cycle. The television series, NOVA, is exploring many of those issues in the upcoming episode, “Search for the Super Battery.”

A preview of the episode by CBS News explores two innovators who are working toward the next big thing in battery technology.

Mike Hopkins, CEO of a company called Ice Energy, believes he has a battery that is environmentally safe, has infinite charge/recharge cycle, and is a fraction of the price of the lithium-ion battery.

His product is called Ice Bear, which is quite literally a giant bathtub that freezes water to solid overnight when energy is at its cheapest.

“The way it works is that during the heat of the day, after this is ice, you get to the heat of the day, and this device is connected to that device, which is just a common conventional rooftop air conditioner,” Hopkins says. “That air conditioner doesn’t have to create cooling; it’s getting ice-cold refrigerant from the melting ice over in this device, using only five percent of the electricity.”

But Hopkins isn’t alone in his outside the box thinking.

Seth Sanders, co-founder of Amber Kinetics, is using the reduced-rate electricity at night to spin a huge flywheel, then using a generator during the day to capture that momentum.

NOVA’s “Search for the Super Battery” airs Feb. 1 on PBS at 9 pm EST.


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