back to article Boffins claim battery BREAKTHROUGH – with rhubarb-like molecule

The humble rhubarb has joined the growing hype-list of possible sources for super-battery materials, to help make renewables like solar and wind more able to cope with baseload requirements. There's good reason to look for non-metallic electrodes in batteries – the most popular photo-voltaic backup is still the lead-acid …

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  1. Cliff

    Optimistic

    I know there are many battery story haters here, all upset that each lead has only 1% extra edge here or there, but I look on the bright side. Those small percentages can compound and early lab results suggest fronts which can be developed.

    And I am not fond of rhubarb.

    1. Ye Gads
      Joke

      Re: Optimistic - Given the right components

      Which will need to include sugar, custard and (and this might be controversial) a little strawberry jam then I agree they may be on to something here. We would be both more environmentally friendly and yummy...

      1. Barely registers

        Re: Optimistic - Given the right components

        >> sugar, custard and ... a little strawberry jam

        Agreed - anything to take away the taste of the rhubarb.

        1. Steve Crook

          Re: Optimistic - Given the right components

          Poach it gently in red wine. Add Muscovado sugar to suit your taste buds. When the rhubarb is just softening take it out of the wine and then reduce the wine to thicken it a little bit so you can use it as a sauce. You can use a little powdered Arrowroot to help the thickening if you like.

          The trick is to use the younger Rhubarb stalks before they develop that really acid taste.

    2. Don Dumb
      Happy

      Re: Optimistic +1

      @Cliff - my first thoughts exactly. Now we have something useful to do with Rhubarb rather than try and put it in food. It tastes horrible and I'm naturally intolerant to anything that Geoffrey Boycott goes on about. Why people try and ruin a good dessert with something like Rhubarb is beyond me.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Optimistic +1

        So who's the serial downvoting, obvious rhubarb fanboi on this thread then?

        Like with the iPhone/Android thing, I'm ambivalent. I've had nice rhubarb desserts, mostly when smothered in sugar and custard, but mostly it's been stringiness, slimeyness and bitterness covered in yummy custard...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Optimistic +1

          > but mostly it's been stringiness, slimeyness and bitterness covered in yummy yucky custard...

          Fixed it for you

          1. JDX Gold badge

            Re: Optimistic +1

            Rhubarb wine is supposed to be nice,

            1. GrumpyOF

              Re: Optimistic +1

              Rhubarb wine IS nice....not supposed to be.

              Just takes about 5 years to ferment/mature.

            2. Stoneshop Silver badge
              Trollface

              Re: Optimistic +1

              Rhubarb wine is supposed to be nice,

              Then why isn't it?

            3. DiViDeD Silver badge

              Re: Optimistic +1

              When my brother and I steadfastly refused to eat any of the yummy rhubarb he'd been growing, my dad turned to rhubarb wine as a way to get rid of the stuff.

              Some time later, he proudly brought his Chateau Shed to the table and set it down.

              doG knows what he'd done, but the act of setting it upright on the table sent the cork flying into the ceiling, where it stayed, and we were treated to a violet-red Vesuvius which was WAAAY better than the indoor fireworks we'd had at Christmas.

              The next year he planted lettuces. About a hundred of them. Which all ripened (does a lettuce ripen?) within hours of each other, leading to the Great Goodwick Lettuce Giveaway of Desperation which still causes old men to shudder when mentioned in the Royal Oak (he took to accosting random strangers and offering them half a dozen lettuces).

              After that he let my brother and I use that patch of garden to build pretend motorways and quarries. A much wiser decision.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Optimistic +1

          "but mostly it's been stringiness, slimeyness and bitterness covered in yummy custard..."

          Yes, that's what you tend to get in frozen pies/crumbles or in pub chains/restaurants aimed at softy southerners.

          Proper rhubarb is not bitter, at least not as bitter a lemon anyway, and is lovely eaten raw and crunchy as well as cooked in pies and crumbles when done properly, ie NOT a mushy mess.

          It probably helps if you grow your own so you know it's fresh :-)

      2. Euripides Pants Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Optimistic +1

        "Why people try and ruin a good dessert with something like Rhubarb is beyond me."

        Because we like it.

      3. cortland
        Happy

        Re: Optimistic +1

        Some of us like it. The rhubarb in our 1950's garden in Wiltshire grew four feet tall, and being American servicemen, our family had unrationed USA ingredients to make pudding with. Yum!

        However... there's no reason to waste the stalks on batteries. (Is that "a stalk and battery"?) The leaves are toxic, but should have enough quinone in them to be harvestable for the purpose, if we can short the compost heaps.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Optimistic

      > Those small percentages can compound and early lab results suggest fronts which can be developed.

      Those small percentages are not compoundable and are often mutually exclusive or for completely different battery technologies.

    4. Fink-Nottle

      Re: Optimistic

      > I know there are many battery story haters here, all upset that each lead has only 1% extra edge here or there, but I look on the bright side ...

      .... at least Gordon Ramsey isn't the Research Manager : "Only one f**kin' percent? Have you never f**kin' cooked rhubarb before, you f**ckin' twat." -

    5. Wzrd1

      Re: Optimistic

      Truth be told, I'm a battery hater, a fuel cell lover, etc.

      That said, I do love rhubarb and sugar.

      A strange thing from a Yank that was born and bred of non-UK linage.

      Strawberry-rhubarb pie is exceptional!

      Now, turn a nice treat into fuel, *beyond cool!*, if it actually works in a real world environmental condition.

      Or can add to such a condition.

    6. cortland

      Re: Optimistic

      Many of little is much.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rhubard and

    "In flow batteries, such as the researchers are working on, energy storage happens in external tanks, and recovered by flowing the fluid across the electrodes when needed."

    The custard helps the flow

  3. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Thermal stores would help too

    The electricity companies would not like it but it shouldn’t be their call. Wind was generating nearly 20% of our power recently (OK at night) an it wouldn’t be hard to introduce a 'lower than economy 7' tariff that could be used in domestic water heaters and industrial units where the storage of cheap energy in the form of heat can easily be made economical.

    A friend is looking at a biomass heater and the sales pitch for the heat store reckons you can go on holiday for a month and still come back to hot water!

    But hydrogen generation and reconversion was 85% efficient in the early 90's and that's before you use the spare O2 to increase burning efficiency elsewhere.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thermal stores would help too

      > Wind was generating nearly 20% of our power recently

      It must have been for a very short period of time as I have rarely seen the generation rise above 3GW (it is currently at 3.5GW so today is an exception) let alone reach the dizzy heights of 6GW. When did it achieve this feat?

      > an it wouldn’t be hard to introduce a 'lower than economy 7' tariff

      Economy 7 currently requires a second meter so to have a third timed tariff it would require either a 3rd meter or a smart meter. The rollout of smart meters is costing about £12 billion, which will ultimately be paid for by the consumers.

      > storage of cheap energy in the form of heat can easily be made economical.

      Those of us who have had the Economy 7 and the storage heaters know just how crap they are. Storing the energy as heat is no use if you want the energy to run an air conditioner/fan in the summer.

      > the sales pitch for the heat store reckons you can go on holiday for a month and still come back to hot water!

      Lets see him put that in writing. I would also like to know what his definition of hot water is. Although, to be fair, it only takes efficient insulation to keep water hot, the problem is getting it hot in the first place.

      > But hydrogen generation and reconversion was 85% efficient in the early 90's

      Err no. Hydrogen has a turnaround efficiency of about 50% and that is with using the generated oxygen.

      1. Starace
        Boffin

        Re: Thermal stores would help too

        "Storing the energy as heat is no use if you want the energy to run an air conditioner/fan in the summer."

        There are also existing systems (some very large scale) which use cheap overnight energy to chill/freeze a storage tank to provide building cooling.

        Assuming the power is available at the right price and there is room for the thermal store it seems like a very simple and obvious way to provide a cooling system.

      2. Peter Reid

        Re: Thermal stores would help too

        Wind provides more than you think.....

        I just retrieved the data provided by NETA's BMRS ( Balancing Mechanism Reporting System), at www.bmreports.com for the contribution to the National Grid by metered wind power between 9 Dec and 9 Jan, and graphed it at the link below. (The vertical scale is in MW.) [Apologies if a link such as this isn't permitted: there seemed to be no way to include images in the response -- at least, not for first-time posters.]

        http://www.scifun.ed.ac.uk/downloads/images/Wind-9Dec-9Jan.gif

        As you can see, it exceeded 3GW almost continuously, and 5GW on many occasions. And this, remember, is only the metered contribution. Another 50% is provided by embedded systems -- in other words, wind turbines providing electrical power that shows up only as a reduction in demand. (So this graph can be scaled up by another 50%, for a true reflection of wind's contribution over the last month.)

        1. David Pollard

          "Wind provides more than you think....."

          The gridwatch site shows clearly how wind delivers only 25% or so of its maximum capacity, and how variable it is. Other generators are still needed for the 70%+ when wind doesn't work.

          http://gridwatch.templar.co.uk/

          There is an argument that the losses and carbon cost of backup generators, which are ramped up and down to cope with fluctuations, and strengthening of the grid to cope with larger swings negate much of the 'green' benefit. Without local medium-term energy storage, which is probably further off than fusion, the scope of wind energy is really quite limited.

        2. Robert Sneddon

          Wind generation

          The output from metered grid connected wind turbines has been bouncing between 3 and 6GW for the past month while a series of Atlantic storms have been hammering the country with the newsreaders and pundits saying things like "unprecedented" and "worst flooding for thirty years". A couple of months ago the same network of over a thousand wind turbines produced about 50MW for a day or so as a calm high-pressure area sat over the UK.

          Looking at the curves in the gridwatch site others have referenced the dataplate 7GW of installed wind capability produces on average about 2 to 2.5GW but that's an average and it can and does go way under that for hours and days on end whereas electricity demand is always with us, cyclic but predictable.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Wind generation

            > have referenced the dataplate 7GW of installed wind capability

            You are being far to generous. The 7GW is only onshore wind, there is also offshore of 3.5GW so on average it produces 2 to 2.5GW out of a possible 10.5GW.

            During most of the summer the output was less than 1GW.

            In a week or so when the air pressure increases and the wind speed drops, so will the temperature and the output from the wind turbines will also plummet.

            In this country we get our coldest temperatures in winter, and our warmest in summer, when there is a high pressure system and little to no wind. This makes wind turbines useless at times of peak demand.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Thermal stores would help too

        > dizzy heights of 6GW. When did it achieve this feat?

        Not that I'm a fan of wind in the slightest but past couple of week 5 - 6GW has been the norm (metered, another 50% unmetered).

        http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/index.php

      4. itzman

        Re: Thermal stores would help too

        http://gridwatch.templar.co.uk

    2. Chemist

      Re: Thermal stores would help too

      "hydrogen generation and reconversion was 85% efficient in the early 90's"

      Hydrogen generation by electrolysis is not very efficient at all. Could you also explain how the spare oxygen can sig. increase the burning efficiency ?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Thermal stores would help too

      I hate to be 'That Guy' but it was generating 20% of our electricity, not our total power needs. Our total power needs include petrol/diesel/kerosene which it didnt touch, but fair enough it's pretty clear that's not what the stats in the paper meant.

      As for home power? Most of the energy use in most houses is actually gas- as your laptop, TV, washing machine get ever more efficient the good old gas boiler remains the same. So they were covering 20% of a small number. That's still pretty impressive, not nowhere near a viable thing to depend on YET.

      And Hydrogen nowadays comes from Methane, releasing Carbon compounds. Electrolysis was pretty fabulously inefficient last time I checked.

      1. Beamerboy

        Re: Thermal stores would help too

        Coming home to hot water after a long time if you've got your own generation is pretty easy, my immersion runs off my solar panels when I have excess generation (this did happen in the summer when it was sunny for weeks an weeks not so much now) and didn't use the gas for heating water for about 4 months. Now I can't generate enough to heat a cup of water to mildly warm, but that's how solar works...

      2. Tom 13

        Re: good old gas boiler remains the same.

        Tell you what, you keep improving those efficiencies and let me know when they match the 98% of the modern gas furnace. Then we'll talk about the desirability of you the amount of real estate your green system is going to require to power the townhouse I live in.

      3. Arnold Lieberman

        Re: Thermal stores would help too

        " Most of the energy use in most houses is actually gas- as your laptop, TV, washing machine get ever more efficient the good old gas boiler remains the same."

        Um, these items only get "more efficient" as they are replaced. Same with boilers - our old one (1980s) was <70% efficient, new one is >90%.

        1. Cliff

          Re: Thermal stores would help too

          Energy demand is very uneven, so we need sources of on-demand power as well as long-term storage. Alas wind doesn't always happen when we want it to, but how about running hydro-elecrtic turbines in reverse? Pump a shedload of water to somewhere of higher gravitational potential energy, can be turned back to leccy pretty quickly

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Thermal stores would help too

            "but how about running hydro-elecrtic turbines in reverse? Pump a shedload of water to somewhere of higher gravitational potential energy, can be turned back to leccy pretty quickly"

            It is called Dinorwig Power Station and has been operational since 1984. It can generate 1800MW of electricity for 6 hours before it runs out of water. It takes 75 seconds to go from a complete standstill to full power output.

    4. itzman

      Re: Thermal stores would help too

      yes thermal stores would help for all space heating uses of electricity because storing low grade heat is one of the easiest and cheapest things to do.,

      But don't think it makes renewable energy look any less useless than it does already. We already have a night tariff because we have a low night time demand.Intermittent renewables merely make the problems worse, easting into night time baseload profits and refusing to generate for evening peaks.

  4. ByeLaw101

    Rhubab haters

    Bah! Rhubarb needs a more sophisticated pallet to fully enjoy ;)

    1. Christoph Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Rhubab haters

      You need a whole pallet of rhubarb for your palate to enjoy it?

      1. F111F
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Rhubab haters

        Paris, because she'd know where to find a whole pallet load of sophisticated rhubarb...

  5. Aaiieeee

    Hopefully this will push rhubarb prices so high that it need never curse a dessert bowl again.

  6. Chris G Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    When I were a lad

    Me mum used to make Rhubarb crumple wi' little bits of date just under t' crumple and a touch of cinnamon, covered wi' lashings o' custard. Luxury!

    1. Don Dumb
      Flame

      Re: When I were a lad

      Oh god no. You sound dangerously like Geoffrey Boycott.

      The only thing worse than the taste of Rhubarb is the mention of it by Boycott. Why did CMJ have to be the one that died?

  7. Ben Rosenthal

    Great choice, Rhubarb goes wonderfully with both Apples and Blackberries!

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      What we want is...

      Rhubarb Tart!

  8. ukgnome Silver badge
    Joke

    This doesn't surprise me

    I always put currants in my crumble

  9. FartingHippo
    Thumb Up

    Roobarb

    The flow battery sounds like the sort of gizmo our animated hero would knock up in his shed.

    1. Graham Marsden
      Happy

      Re: Roobarb

      Whilst Custard the cat falls off the fence laughing... :-)

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Flow batteries

      Have been posited as a way of solving recharge delays in electric vehicles since the 1980s

      So far they've come to naught.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Flow batteries

        The possibility of mechanically propelled flying carriages has been posited as a way of traversing the globe since 1670.

        So far they've come to naught

        (Grandfather Brown, 1883)

      2. Charles Manning

        Re: Flow batteries

        There are some experimental flow systems in use, but so far the biggest limitation with flow batteries has been concern over the electrolytes getting spilled during crashes. So far these have been noxious substances. If a more friendly electrolyte can be found then flow batteries could take off.

        Quick battery changing for solid batteries is not practical. Different vehicles will want different battery shapes and it is impractical for the filling stations to invest in piles of different battery sizes/shapes to support a wide range of vehicles. Imagine coming into the filling station and seeing they still have piles of the square batteries, but you need a round one and the last round one was just sold to the last customer. Also, battery exchange of heavy batteries would be troublesome, needing jacks, cranes or such.

        Flow is much handier. Just pump it. It takes on the shape of the tank. One size fits all. The motorist is already familiar with the idea of pumping so there is one less psycological barrier.

  10. Andy 73

    Woah

    " The quinones are dissolved in water, which prevents them from catching fire..."

    Woah there! I was all for this vegetable-based storage plot, right up until they dropped the bombshell that it might be a.. well, bombshell. Catching FIRE?! It all sounded so safe, environmentally friendly and (um) wet. Not firey death. Not from rhubarb.

    I'm off to get a fire extinguisher for our garden. Just in case.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Woah

      The whole battery has to be maintained at 40C which, I would imagine, decreases the overall energy efficiency.

      I've looked through the abstract and associated material and can not find any figures for energy efficiency.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Woah

        Superconductors are temperature sensitive too, but people are still interested in those.

        This sounds like basically a fuel cell that is rechargeable, which is pretty cool. Well, 40 degrees isn't cool.

        1. Chemist

          Re: Woah

          "This sounds like basically a fuel cell that is rechargeable"

          Fuel cells are rechargeable that's really the point. Big tank of higher energy material going through cell to tank of lower energy material + electricity. Run the process in reverse (preferably) to recharge the high energy tank.

          Oddly enough many years ago I used such a flow process ( in reverse) to deprotect an antibiotic intermediate with the by-product being a quinone

          1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

            Re: Woah

            Chemist, I don't quite understand what you said. But my understanding of a fuel cell is that it's like an electricity generator without moving machinery, or like a battery that you top up with the necessary chemical so that the battery isn't exhausted. Fuel goes in - hydrocarbon for instance - and electricity and a chemical waste product (such as harmless water) comes out. This is the first that I've heard of a box where you can also put electricity in and basically get fuel out - not just like an ordinary battery where the chemicals are sealed inside, but you can draw it out of the reaction cell and keep it in a big tank.

            I don't dismiss the problem of running it at 40 degrees, but maybe next they will invent one that doesn't have that problem - or some clever way to make it better, like James Watt's condenser. Or just keep it in a vacuum flask.

            1. Chemist

              Re: Woah

              "Chemist, I don't quite understand what you said."

              Well as an example a hydrogen fuel cell isn't just a 'cell' filled up with hydrogen - hydrogen is supplied as necessary from an external tank. In this case the lower energy waste product product isn't saved to be recycled. But with other chemistry it's entirely possible. Conceptually the water produced could be subject to electrolysis in the same cell and the hydrogen stored.

              Even in a lab solutions can be pumped around one half of a cell with a ion-permeable membrane to keep the moving solution away from the wrong electrode . On an industrial scale equipment is available on a modular basis that can be moved by a fork-lift and can be used to generate a number of materials by electrochemistry on very large scales. Chlorine is nowadays produced this way using a superacid membrane (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nafion) that avoids the disasterous use of mercury

              In electrochemistry at the anode things are oxidized and at the cathode they are reduced - with sufficently stable materials the whole thing can be reversible

              With the right materials this could easily act as an energy store. What the efficiency and by-product profile might be is the real question.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flow_battery

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Woah

          > Superconductors are temperature sensitive too, but people are still interested in those.

          One of the most important metrics for a system like this is: 100 x Energy Out/Energy In.

          This gives you the efficiency. Since the "Energy In" includes the energy required to maintain the 40C this will reduce the efficiency. The tables and graphs do not give any figures for the energy efficiency.

          I assume that you are talking about energy storage when you mention superconductors. These fulfil a different role. Theoretically a super conductor can store a lot of energy for long periods of time without any loss but are not very efficient in terms of energy in/out because of the low temperatures needed. A good place for them might be in space where you can trickle charge them with a solar array and then have the power available when you need to use the instruments.

      2. Charles Manning

        40C

        I have not RTFA, but is 40C just needed at the reactor (fuel cell part) or does the electrolyte have to be stored at 40C too?

        Most of these fuel-cell type reactions are exothermic so likely that waste heat could be put to good use.

    2. proto-robbie
      Mushroom

      Re: Woah

      ...and that's why the rhubarb patch is always down at the bottom of the garden...

  11. cs94njw

    As as MasterChef fan, I have seen Rhubarb done 3 ways....

    ...Rhubarb done *4* ways make take some getting used to.

    1. earl grey Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Om nom nom nom

      Mmmmmm.....rhubarb. delivicious pink stuff.....

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhubarb_Triangle

    Let's get the Rhubarb Triangle expanded to producing 90% of the worlds forced Rhubarb again. Then again, let's not else every grumpy Yorkshireman is going to be going on about how they power the world...

    1. Don Dumb
      Thumb Up

      else every grumpy Yorkshireman is going to be going on about how they power the world...

      Is that not already ths case? As they already seem to think they are the only ones with "bloody common sense".

      I notice a particular ISP isn't advertising itself on the basis that it is from Yorkshire anymore - why they didn't realise that everyone else has a less positive opinion of the Yorkshire stereotype than those in Yorkshire have of the Yorkshire stereotype is beyond me, but then I'm from the south and don't have that mythical common sense.

      1. stucs201

        re: everyone else has a less positive opinion of the Yorkshire stereotype

        Apart from Egypt. For some reason they're obsessed with Yorkshire. When I went there almost everyone we met claimed to have at least one relative from the place. I also saw at least one 'Yorksire shop'.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        "I notice a particular ISP isn't advertising itself on the basis that it is from Yorkshire anymore"

        They don't advertise that they're a BT subsidiary either (I suspect if they did, their customers would leave in droves).

        In the same way AOL doesn't advertise that it's a trading unit of TalkTalk (AOL sold out its european ops years ago)

      3. Smarty Pants

        http://youtu.be/6VLYpKGVBUg

    2. Lars Silver badge
      Happy

      Yorkshiremen

      Sarcasm start, batteries don't produce energy. Rhubarb does if you eat it. Sarcasm stop.

      The important story here is about inventing a good or better battery. We have invented things like nuclear power and what not but not much anything regarding storing electricity. How that would change the value of sun/wind and such power. A break though in battery technology would be worth several Nobel prizes. I am not much of an optimist here.

      As far as rhubarb is concerned, I quite like it, I think I had some, some five years ago, but rhubarb is a absolutely superb vegetable (a fruit in the USA!!!!), It demands no help from you, it takes wonderful help of it self. And think of all the sailors who would have saved their life and teeth if they would have understand to take some rhubarb on the journey. Think about the children. If and when we find a planet with life, it would surprise me much, if there was no rhubarb. I can see it now, 200 feet rhubarb, wow.

  13. streeeeetch

    Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

    1. mosw

      Wow. It suddenly feels very crowded in here.

  14. Craig 2
    Unhappy

    Oh Joy

    Another battery technology that we won't be seeing in the real world any time soon...

  15. tojb

    DMC cells

    Anyone remember the hype around direct methanol conversion fuel cells a while ago? Great energy density, apparently and relatively non-toxic.

    Whatever happened to those things? Why didn't they make it to market?

    1. earl grey Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: DMC cells

      Too cheap and reliable. Big energy doesn't want that.

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: DMC cells

      Methanol, "non-toxic". It must be a different type of methanol than the usual one.

      I suspect the reason it didn't make it to mass market is that apart from the toxicity of methanol is that it's not cheap to manufacture in massive quantities and would displace the necessary feedstock from other more efficient processes.

  16. Norm DePlume

    Bob Godfrey

    Anyone else got theme tunes from 70s children's TV shows suddenly going 'round their heads?

    Oh you have now.

    1. Tom 13

      Re: Oh you have now.

      No, no I don't. Not even after looking him up on Wiki to find out who he is.

  17. thomas k.

    Bebop-a-rebop

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq08wFhAGgc

  18. bcollie
    Boffin

    We should start to live like hobbits and have underground homes, naturally cool in summer, and warm in winter.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "We should start to live like hobbits and have underground homes"

      Mmmm...underground tower blocks? Warmer at the bottom, "Oh yes daaaahrling, I have a basement apartment, only plebs live in the cold near the surface."

  19. Daedalus Silver badge
    Happy

    Quinones?

    These guy have some cojones!

  20. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Up

    1.3A/cm^2

    That sounds pretty impressive.

    I'll also note that it is better than metal ions.

    But yes it's v0.1 tech.

  21. Dragon Leaves
    Windows

    No surprise here.

    The puddle of Goo, that cradle of life, of which Q elegantly reduced us to, emerged simply because those various molecular configurations lowered the base energy level of the system. For the same reason hydrogen comes in pair. Second law of thermodynamics at work. The trees in a forest serves the same purpose as the pins of a cpu heatsink. Life is nothing more than a more efficient way of respecting thermodynamics. Therefore, that they finally look at organics is only natural.

  22. Faux Science Slayer

    UNENDING GRANT RESEARCH BAIT-AND-SWITCH

    Absurd....all "storage batteries" are limited to ~ 1.5 volt of Direct Current stored output. A typical example, a 12 volt battery contains cells in eight series, but transmissible power requires Alternating Current and kilovolt ranges. Any "storage" must include the DC/AC inverter and boost transformer losses, leaving all these green meanie schemes in fantasy land. See "Green Prince of Darkness" at the FauxScienceSlayer site and question the total life cycle costs of these eco-frauds.

    1. Chemist

      Re: UNENDING GRANT RESEARCH BAIT-AND-SWITCH

      "all "storage batteries" are limited to ~ 1.5 volt of Direct Current "

      I think you mean "all LEAD-ACID ........ " I think you'll find the voltage depends on the chemistry of the battery.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electrochemical_series

    2. DJO Silver badge

      Re: UNENDING GRANT RESEARCH BAIT-AND-SWITCH

      "all "storage batteries" are limited to ~ 1.5 volt of Direct Current"

      That would be handy if true, NiCads are 1.2v which is inadequate for equipment that expects 1.5v from each cell.

      Also the voltage varies by load, a fully charged car battery or new zinc/carbon dry cell with no load is about 1.65v per cell dropping to less than1.5v under heavy load.

    3. KayKay
      Happy

      Re: UNENDING GRANT RESEARCH BAIT-AND-SWITCH

      No need for AC to be transmissible. There are very long runs of DC lines in Sweden, Germany, Canada, Russia, Brazil, China etc, the longest (in China) over 2000 km long. Admittedly these are bit higher voltage than 1.5 volts.

      For home use, I don't see why people go to the trouble of converting to AC, when they're not producing their whole needs anyway. Good LED lighting runs on low voltage DC anyway; you can have DC power points for charging up the electronics. There are DC fridges and TVs. And you don't lose any in converting it to AC to sell it, then buying AC to convert back to DC to charge your phone. Make DC and use it as such.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Piezo inverters

    Simples.

    Just saying, PZT based step up units operate at some MHz IIRC, the efficiency is up at over 90% now and waste heat can be used via a light fluid which is also an HV insulator such as SF6, into the Seebeck arrays.

    I still say this is a viable alternative to conventional grid tied transformer inverters.

    Kickstarter anyone?

    I call it "Project Flashbolt"

  24. southen bastard
    Coat

    you're bitching about 40degrees

    40 degrees is just a warm day in north OZ with 85 percent humidity by the coast.

    I bet you ice berks and penguins have your heaters turned up that high at home, a 40degree heater in your car would be a bleesing with all your ice and snow, never having to defrost your windscreen, such a problem.

    You would winge if your beer was not at least that warm and call your tea to cold.

    You can even burn your self at that temp.

    At least some one found a use for rubarb we spray and burn it here.

    Fu*k the coat im out of here

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