back to article Doped nanotubes boost lithium battery power three-fold

A team from the University of Southern California (USC) has built a lithium battery that provides three times the power capacity of conventional designs, with a recharge time of just ten minutes and a predicted long life-span. "It's an exciting research. It opens the door for the design of the next generation lithium-ion …

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Boeing needs to sponsor more of this

QUICKLY!

Then again the problems with the 787's batteries might be some silly RoHS regulations that promote Tin (Sn) over Lead (Pb) for solder.

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Boffin

Re: Boeing needs to sponsor more of this

"might be some silly RoHS regulations that promote Tin (Sn) over Lead (Pb) for solder."

That's Tin over Lead/Tin solder.

The Lead gave you a melting point of 183c but increased the level of a neurotoxin in the environment.

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Boffin

Re: Boeing needs to sponsor more of this

Lead/Tin is also much less likely to spontaneously form "tin whiskers" at stress points, and short out your electronics..

Especially bad in battery circuits, even worse for avionics!

Bugger the neurotoxins, I want reliability!

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Boffin

Re: Boeing needs to sponsor more of this

RoHS applies to consumer products, and not aerospace.

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FAIL

Re: Boeing needs to sponsor more of this

A123 was founded on this CNT technology (spun out of MIT), and in the end, never could get it to work on an industrial scale.

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Unhappy

Re: Boeing needs to sponsor more of this

"Bugger the neurotoxins, I want reliability!"

Personally I suspect the worst offender for this was the tetraethyl lead additive they put in petrol. That's been banned for decades. Highly toxic, absorbed through the skin and as a combustion product from the exhaust already vaporized for easy ingestion.

But with the modern view of H&S you can't doubt it was a factor.

Again IMHO the release of Mercury from badly disposed of florescent tubes will be a much bigger health hazard, but that's just me. Maybe people will get the disposal chain worked out in time.

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Go

Bring it on!

Better battery technology is the key to making electric vehicles a viable reality.

(Before anyone starts saying "so what the elecricity still comes burning from coal anyway": it doesn't have to. The electricity I use at my house is small solar and big hydro, and there's always the clean nuclear option.)

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Pirate

Re: Bring it on!

whilst fast recharge helps cars, the overriding issue is not *power* density - that is already high enough to fly an aircraft, just not for long.

The overriding problem is energy *density*, and even at top theoretical limits, its still not enough to make electric cars viable replacements for more than short range cars.

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Re: Bring it on!

I wouldn't expect useful electric cars soon.

I'd be inclined to add electric motors and use tram-like power supplies in cities, where there is a lot of start-stop which is wasteful for petrol. Battery is unlikely to work well for long-haul trips.

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Re: Bring it on!

The trouble is that countries like the US have lots of land area. Long haul is a REQUIREMENT for a viable car replacement since people are unlikely to keep two vehicles: a short-haul for intracity driving and a long-haul for the trips to other states. One vehicle would have to fit all.

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Re: Bring it on!

Yes, but many households in the US already have two cars. I would gladly drive an electric car to/from work and the wife could have the gas one that we take on trips.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bring it on!

@Charles9: I'm not sure I follow your logic. My wife and I each have a car, both used for a lot of local driving. When we travel long distances, we usually travel together in one car, else one of us stays home and drives the usual short distances.

Replacing one of our gas-burners with an electric car would be a (very) viable option.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bring it on!

@charles 9 You are kidding aren't you ? When I lived in the states I had 2 cars ... and I worked from home.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: even at top theoretical limits, its still not enough to make electric cars viable

That doesn't make sense, if petrol cars are viable, then electricity stored as a hydrocarbon using a fuel cell shows it IS viable to have an electric car, we just need to stop looking at batteries as the only way to store energy for electric cars... All we need is a novel storage cell for electricity that is not dangerous, my current vote is hydrocarbon fuel cells, with batteries/capacitors for regenerative breaking etc...

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Re: Bring it on!

Something missing - voltage?

Am I missing something here? If they're not saying what voltage the battery is operating at, the mA and mAh rating cannot be usefully converted into J and W so it's not possible to say anything about power and energy density.

as @itzman said, the big issue with batteries isn't power density, it's energy density. A three-fold increase is nothing to sneeze at, but still, improving a Lithium battery from 1.8MJ/kg* to 5.4MJ/kg still compares poorly to petrol at approx 46MJ/kg*

Having said that, current production electric cars get around (manufacturer-specified)180-250 miles per charge and (real-life) 100-150 miles per charge. So if that can really be tripled to a real-life 300-450 miles per charge, combined with a 10-minute recharge time AND 2000 charge cycles would make this a real alternative to petrol cars. **

So, to be expected in (current year + 5) for the next 10 years, and then when it arrives will have a battery costing more than the car?

*Wikipedia-sourced number caveat applies

** Even estimating conservatively 200 miles per charge (batteries are also powering heating and other gadgets after all), and 1000 charge cycles (half of what they claim), that gives a battery lifetime of 200,000 miles, so finally also a battery with a life expectancy that matches that of the rest of the car

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Re: even at top theoretical limits, its still not enough to make electric cars viable

well I should have said BATTERY electric cars..

Energy consumption is related to miles AND weight, and energy in batteries is also related to weight.. which is why there is a reasonable theoretical upper limit to range of a battery vehicle.

No matter how much we all want electric cars to work, it is to be understood that all breakthroughs come from technology or physics that already exists and has theoretical potential to deliver: right now there is no technology that exists that has even the theoretical potential to deliver the sort of energy density an off grid electrical transport system needs that is effective safe efficient and within reasonable cost bounds..

Or we would have had one 50 years ago.

Electricity turns out to be the easiest thing to move around via wires., but the hardest thing to store in bulk.

Chemical fuel is the best of the rest, but synthetic chemical fuel is still several times more expensive than pumping it out if the ground..

I wish it were not so: the facts are that it is.

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Re: Bring it on!

Except the primary reason for more than one car is more than one simultaneous driver. And these drivers tend to drive in similar patterns so would want similar kinds of cars to keep costs down.

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Results of this

If this is real, it will be pretty great. It will go a long way to making electric cars range and price-competitive with gasoline cars. And when I replace my electric bicycle's battery, it will give me a 90-mile range --- enough for a full day of touring.

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Re: Results of this

ER no. It wont.

All it means is a bit longer lifetime, and faster charging.

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Stop

Re: Results of this - @Itzman

Did you not read the article? "A team from the University of Southern California (USC) has built a lithium battery that provides three times the power capacity of conventional designs". Same sized battery, three times the electrical capacity. The design needs more Lithium than conventional cells, but has a higher energy density.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Results of this - @Itzman

I read both the article and the supporting materials from the paper.

The supporting material shows the specific capacity of the battery dropping from 2600 mAh/g to about 750 mAh/g over 180 charge/discharge cycles. That is a 72% reduction.

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Re: Results of this - @Itzman

Which was one of the things they said needed to be worked on and why it's not ready for mass production.

Realistically the batteries need to be able to manage 2000 complete cycles with no more than a 20% loss of capacity before they are ready for EVs.

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Holmes

Re: Results of this - @Itzman

I did read the article, and noted they said power, not energy.

Which, it seems, you failed to do.

Power density is useful for getting huge amounts of power out - or in - in short spaces of time. It has no implications for energy density.

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Stop

Re: Results of this - @Itzman

The wording could have been better, but it's pretty clear from both the article and the links that this is about increasing the amount of lithium that can bind to the anode of a cell. More lithium = more mAh per cell = higher energy density. As an added bonus it supports higher current densities for charging.

This isn't the only attempt to improve density this way. There was similar research based on tin whiskers that was announced last year. Neither method adds significant weight to a cell so energy density is much improved.

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Facepalm

call the editor please!

"so the team decided to see if carbon nanotubes are more effective.". WTF ? how did carbon nanotubes get into it? and into the title ? gheez.

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Anonymous Coward

>that provides three times the power capacity of conventional designs

Do you mean power, or do you mean energy (energy = power*time)? My devices are happy with the power currently supplied to them- to have them go longer on a single charge they require more energy. It isn't difficult, a school textbook should see you right. Textbook- a bit like a Kindle, but heavier and made out of dead trees. Second-hand copies are cheap on an on-line book retailer near you.

THIS IS YOUR JOB.

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Boffin

Battery is at 10%

One of half a dozen stories on battery technology breakthroughs in the last few years. It's always either smaller size, faster charging, longer life, or higher capacity. I'd love to see these boffins put their heads together and get some of these things to market.

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Spot on !

I was under the impression that, with all the articles already published on this subject, I was going to be able to find my new suparfast-charging extralong-lasting batteries any time soon.

And now I read they're still in research mode ? Humbug !

Get these things to market already !

P.S. : yeah, I know, easier said than done. But sheesh, one would think that there is enough market pressure on this particular subject to at least hear about upcoming new battery models, not just another lab story.

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Anonymous Coward

My Samsung Galaxy SIII needs a good battery

3X better, my god it would last a whole day!

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Re: My Samsung Galaxy SIII needs a good battery

You dare speak against the holiness that is android and/or Samsung! Don't you realise they are faultless and perfect, and far superior in every way to all other phones, especially to the "fruity one"?

You must be holding it wrong. No wait - that's the other fanboi camp...

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Devil

Re: My Samsung Galaxy SIII needs a good battery

And if they fix the battery contacts! ;)

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WTF?

Re: My Samsung Galaxy SIII needs a good battery

I get 2 days on a charge, and I'm a heavy user... your clearly running something that is draining the battery... I'd advice checking your battery stats just before it dies, find out what is causing your power drain....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: My Samsung Galaxy SIII needs a good battery

Well my friend has an iPhone and she moans about the battery life. It's obviously the state of consumer battery tech in general- we are doing much more with mobile electronics than we used to.

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Mmmmm.

Donuts Carbon Nanotubes ... Is there anything they can't do?

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Joke

Re: Mmmmm.

Next week: Carbon nanotubes provide insight into female logic!

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Re: Mmmmm. @ Tee Cee

Methinks advancements in quantum physics will be the only way to understand female logic.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Mmmmm. @ Tee Cee

I agree. Quantum physics with its concepts of complementarity, uncertainty, entanglement, duality and the inability to go faster than a set speed might manage it, but much more research needs to be done.

The problem is that researching it will cost you most of your income.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mmmmm. @ Tee Cee

The problem is that researching it will cost you most of your income.

I sense another divorcee..

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Re: Mmmmm. @ Tee Cee

I think you are being over optimistic.

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Coffee/keyboard

Re: Mmmmm. @ Tee Cee + Friends

Stop it, STOP IT! I can't afford any more keyboards this month!

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You hear that?

That's the sound of patents being filed :-)

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comparison

How does this compare to current li-ion batteries?

Saying you can charge it in 10 minutes is fairly irrelevant, if you have a 5Wh battery and you charge it with a charger capable of producing 5W (as is the case with all modern USB phone chargers) it will take at least an hour to charge. The only way to make it charge quicker is to use a bigger charger. The battery on my current phone is 8.7Wh, if the new style battery provides 3x that then that's 26.1Wh. To charge that with my 5W charger will take at least 5h12'. To get the charge time down to 10 minutes would take a 150W charger, i.e. something nearly 3 times the size of most laptop chargers.

The useful thing here is if they really have managed to treble the capacity but if this comes to market we'll see HTC produce phones with the same size batteries that last longer which will be ignored by the buying public. Then Apple will release an iPhone with the same battery life but the smaller size of battery will allow them to make the phone thinner. Then Samsung will copy Apple's lead and all we will have gained are slightly lighter phones that still need charging every day.

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Re: comparison

The only way to make it charge quicker is to use a bigger charger.

Yes you would need a dedicated charger, but that is not much of a problem, is it? 1. you still get higher battery capacity 2. faster charge is often suboptimal to battery performance so you don't really need to bother with it 3. if you did, 5W is tiny anyway. For example, 100W charger is considered entry-level size for LiPo batteries used in RC helicopters (larger than micro size). I would happily swap my LiPos for a new generation of batteries, if it gave me 3x flight times, even I do not get the benefits of faster charge. Which I would since 1000W charger and PSU (especially one built from servers PSUs bought on eBay) are not that very expensive either, considered the cost of things they are used to supply the power to.

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Charge time of ten minutes?

And how many amps will they need for that?

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Re: Charge time of ten minutes?

Not a problem - most current petrol stations have 3 phase supplies already.

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Re: Charge time of ten minutes?

Try doing the maths.

For a busy motorway station and trying to push 10 cars a minute through at say 50Kwh each. That's a peak requirement of 30MW.

A tad more than a 'three phase supply'. That's a small town..substation.

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Re: Charge time of ten minutes?

And we have at least 20 years to beef up the supply lines to those stations. At the moment we only need to add one charging unit to most stations to provide sufficient infrastructure.

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WTF?

Is this yet another batterie breakthrough...

... that vanishes into a black hole?

Is some vastly wealthy individual buying up these breakthroughs and burying them to protect his own interests?

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