A Carbon-Free California

According to The Conversation, California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a new law committing to make the Golden State the state 100 percent carbon-free by 2045.

The new law is comprised of multiple targets, committing California to draw half its electricity from renewable sources by 2026, and then to 60 percent by 2030.

California’s mission to stop relying on fossil fuels for energy has been a longtime goal in the making. Since 2010, utility-scale solar and wind electricity in California increased from 3 percent to 18 percent in 2017, exceeding expected targets, due to solar prices drop in recent years. In 2011, Brown signed a law committing the state to derive a third of its energy from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2020. And in 2017, about 56 percent of the power California generated came from non-carbon emitting sources, placing state over halfway to their goal for 2045.

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Liquid Blue Dye in Liquid Batteries

Most take the world around them for granted, never expecting anything extraordinary out of what’s always proven to be, well, extra ordinary. According to Futurism, that’s what many felt about a methylene blue dye used to dye fabric in textile mills. Its remnants even considered a nuisance and a hazard, often making its way from the mill and into the environment, where it’s no easy task to clean up.

So researchers from the University at Buffalo began experimenting with the industrial dye, in an attempt to reuse the wasted material, turning the methylene blue wastewater into an environmentally safe material – in batteries.

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Robert F. SavinellLong-time ECS member, editor of the Journal of The Electrochemical Society, and Distinguished University Professor at Case Western Reserve Robert Savinell has a new title to add to his list. Savinell will lead the U.S. Department of Energy’s new Energy Frontier Research Center at Case Western Reserve University, in support of a research endeavor that focuses on identifying new battery chemistries with the potential to provide large, long-lasting energy storage solutions for buildings or the power grid. The project is made possible by an EFRC grant, which awarded $10.75 million to Case Western Reserve University, allowing the school to establish a research center to explore Breakthrough Electrolytes for Energy Storage.

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Elizabeth BiddingerLithium-ion batteries play a major role in our everyday lives; they’re in our cell phones, solar panels, tablets, cars, and medical devices, to name a few. All these modern technologies are made possible because of batteries. Yet, they’re far from perfect. The Samsung Note 7 self-combusted on nightstands and planes in 2016, injuring customers and causing second-degree burns in one Florida man. Not to mention, the hoverboard’s explosion around the same time, causing a recall of roughly 16,000 hoverboards.

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Electric vehicles don’t only move people, they move companies too. And Volkswagen is making big moves when it comes to investing in battery-powered vehicles.

According to an article in AXIOS written by Eric Wachsman, director of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute at the University of Maryland, founder of Ion Storage Systems, and 3rd vice president of the ECS board of directors, in June alone, Volkswagen invested $100 million in QuantumScape, a solid state battery startup. And now, the car company is considering building a factory in Europe to produce solid state batteries, a next-generation battery technology, to power their electric vehicles. Volkswagen isn’t alone. Solid-electrolyte batteries are getting international attention from companies like Toyota, Nissan, Dyson, and BMW, who’ve all made similar investments. (more…)

Electric VehicleIn 1888, German inventor Andreas Flocken created what is widely considered the world’s first electric car. According to The Battery Issue, recently published by The Verge, the 900-pound vehicle drove at the top speed of nine miles per hour, coming to a halt after a two and a half hour test ride. Although it was considered a success, it wasn’t entirely. The car’s battery, sustainably charged with water power, had died.

Today, nearly 130 years, German carmakers are still having trouble with their batteries – specifically with battery cells. As a result, car companies are relying on suppliers from China, Korea, and Japan for the highly needed component.

“Cells can be a major technology differentiator and cells are the by far most costly part of the battery pack,” says Martin Winter, a professor of materials science, energy, and electrochemistry at the University of Münster and ECS Battery Division and Europe Section member. Winter says a large scale production of battery cells by European or German companies will be crucial in order to take part in the “enormous and rapidly growing market.”

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Photo Credit: www.HydroQuebec.com

Hydro-Québec (an ECS institutional member) and the U.S. Army Research Laboratory have announced a breakthrough in the lithium-ion battery materials field, publishing their research results in the Journal of Power Sources. Using a cathode made with new high voltage safe materials, the researchers have achieved a world first: building a 1.2 Ah lithium-ion cell with a voltage of 5 V.

“With the high voltage of this new cell, we can reach a very high energy density,” says Karim Zaghib, General Director of the Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage. “This highly desirable property can improve batteries used in a wide range of applications.” Army Research Laboratory scientists Jan Allen and Richard Jow, also inventors of this high voltage cathode material, believe that the high cell voltage can, in addition to enabling high energy density, improve the design of devices.

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used to power many electronic devices, including smartphones, medical devices and electric vehicles. Their high energy density, excellent durability and lightness make them a popular choice for energy storage. In response to the growing demand for their use in a wide range of products, there are many teams working to improve their storage capacity. In particular, there is great interest in developing new compounds that could increase energy storage capacity, stability and lifespan. That is why the innovation announced today has such a strong commercial potential.

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BatteryA collaborative team of researchers from Shinshu University in Japan have found a new way to curb some of the potential dangers posed by lithium ion batteries.

The team was led by Susumu Arai, a professor of the department of materials chemistry and head of Division for Application of Carbon Materials at the Institute of Carbon Science and Technology at Shinshu University.

These batteries, typically used in electric vehicles and smart grids, could help society realize a low-carbon future, according the authors. The problem is that while lithium could theoretically conduct electricity at high capacity, lithium also results in what is known as thermal runaway during the charge and discharge cycle.

“Lithium metal is inherently unsuitable for use in rechargeable batteries due to posing certain safety risks,” said Arai. “Repeated lithium deposition/dissolution during charge/discharge can cause serious accidents due to the deposition of lithium dendrites that penetrate the separator and induce internal short-circuiting.”

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Li-ion fuel cell

Superior high-voltage performance of Li-ion full cell with Li-rich layered oxide cathode prepared with fluorinated polyimide (FPI) binder, compared to the cell with conventional binder PVdF. (Click to enlarge.)
Image: Seung Wan Song

In order to increase the driving range of electric vehicles, researchers across the globe are working to develop lithium-ion batteries with higher energy storage. Now, scientists at Chungnam National University and Kumoh National Institute of Technology in Korea are taking a step toward that goal with their development of the first high-voltage cathode binder for higher energy Li-ion batteries.

Today’s Li-ion batteries are limited to charge to 4.2V due to the electrochemical instability of the liquid electrolyte and cathode-electrolyte interface, and loosening of conventional binder, polyvinylidenefluoride (PVdF), particularly at elevated temperatures. The fabrication of Li-rich layered oxide cathode with a novel high-voltage binder, as the research team demonstrated, can overcome these limitations.

Charging the batteries with Li-rich layered oxide cathode (xLi2MnO3∙(1−x)LiMO2, M = Mn, Ni, Co) to higher than 4.5V produces approximately doubled capacity than those with LiCoO2 cathode, so that doubled energy density batteries can be achieved.

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BatteryNew research from Sandia National Laboratory is moving toward advancing solid state lithium-ion battery performance in small electronics by identifying major obstacles in how lithium ions flow across battery interfaces.

The team of researchers, including ECS member Forrest Gittleson, looked at the nanoscale chemistry of solid state batteries, focusing on the area where the electrodes and electrolytes make contact.

“The underlying goal of the work is to make solid-state batteries more efficient and to improve the interfaces between different materials,” says Farid El Gabaly, coauthor of the recently published work. “In this project, all of the materials are solid; we don’t have a liquid-solid interface like in traditional lithium-ion batteries.”

According to El Gabaly, the faster the lithium can travel from one electrode to the other, the more efficient the batteries could be.

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