back to article Organic battery tech could work better than a woolly hat in the cold

Brits may soon have one less thing to whinge about during cold snaps – thanks to research into the performance of Li-ion batteries in freezing temperatures. Once the mercury drops below 0°C, commonly used electrolytes start to freeze and ionic conductivity becomes problematic. In other words, a battery that seems to have …

  1. JassMan Silver badge

    Still someway to go then

    "After 500 cycles, the capacity retention was a promising 83 per cent."

    Since batteries for eVehicles are now achieving 90%+ at 2000+ cycles it will be a while before anyone swaps out their Li Ion for a chinese alternative.

    OTOH if then can improve capacity retention they could be onto a world beater; I am always pissed off when my solar lamps garden retain enough charge for 30 minutes in winter when you need them most then miraculously revive in the summer with 6 hours just as you are thinking of replacing them. Sometimes make you think that garden lamps semi-sentient.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        Re: Still someway to go then

        "...could potentially see supercapacitors achieving energy densities of up to 180whr/kg - greater than lithium ion batteries."

        ^^ Too Obvious Propaganda Alert ^^

        The PR person writing the news release chose the number 180 only because it's slightly "greater than lithium ion batteries."

        To remain honest, the word "potentially" was included.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Still someway to go then

          "90% at 2000+ cycles" that's not been my experience with electric cars.

          There's a group of five of us at work and we all feel that the figure is closer to 80% or less after that many charges (on a warm day). We're using Nissan and Toyota tech BTW.

  2. malle-herbert Silver badge

    Ethyl acetate ?

    Won't that make Li-ion batteries even more explodey-wody ? See icon ---->

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What's difficult about that? - that's my son's name. We wanted something unique - he's the only one in his class with that name.

    1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Naphthalenetetracarboxylic

      Naff for short?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Naphthalenetetracarboxylic

      Obviously AC, but our sons forename + surname is - still - globally unique.

      He's 22 now, and a gift to any company that wants to get to the top on Google ... pages with his name in are - by definition - unique.

      1. breakfast

        Re: Naphthalenetetracarboxylic

        Of course, GUIDs are hard to pronounce, but it transpires practically they are no worse than 60% of the Welsh language.

      2. Throatwarbler Mangrove Silver badge

        Re: Naphthalenetetracarboxylic

        I Googled for "globally unique" and got 12.3 million results, so it's obviously not that uncommon.

    3. Fr. Ted Crilly

      Re: Naphthalenetetracarboxylic

      Nappy... cruel

    4. PNGuinn

      Re: Naphthalenetetracarboxylic

      Does he sit next to little Bobby Tables?

  4. Will Godfrey Silver badge

    Impressive... but

    At those temperatures just about the only thing that will be working would be the battery.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Impressive... but

      Concur. For shits and giggles I used to see how cold I could take some of our equipment in the environmental chamber before it stopped working (real world excuse - we used it in unattended stations up mountains and not needing auxiliary heating was "handy"). Most 1980s analogue tech would cease to function around -30C or so (but the batteries and solar panels would expire long before then)

      1. Rob D.

        Re: Impressive... but

        With an old iPhone 6 and a decidedly dodgy battery to take a picture while skiing there's a small but usable window between fishing it out of the unspeakable depths of a toasty trouser pocket and the -15C ambient eating the life out of it. A few unpronounceable chemicals added to the mix would be most welcome.

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        but the batteries and solar panels would expire long before then)

        So this tech could be useful to some people.

        Of course no one knows how far away from market it is.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: but the batteries and solar panels would expire long before then)

          "So this tech could be useful to some people."

          Depends on your value of "some". Quite a lot of people live in places where negative Celsius temperatures are not unusual for weeks or months at a time.

      3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Impressive... but

        "Most 1980s analogue tech would cease to function around -30C"

        Apparently the outside weather digital thermometer in Oymyakon (a rather cold town in Siberia) packed up at -60 so they couldn't find out how cold it was. Mercury, of course, is long frozen. If the batteries don't work, there's an obvious opportunity there for an ethyl acetate thermometer, as per TFA.

  5. DougS Silver badge

    Never been a problem for me

    While it is often well below 0C where I live in the winter, I've never encountered a time when my phone stopped working due to cold. I suppose that's because 1) I keep it in my pocket where it stays warm against my leg and 2) I don't take it out often when I'm outside in such temperatures because I'd rather wait til I'm inside where my fingers won't freeze and 3) I don't spend nearly as much time outdoors when it is that cold as I do when it is a more reasonable temperature!

    I guess if I still snowboarded it might be more of a problem, but when I used to do that regularly I didn't have a cell phone at all. So I think I'd be able to survive either having mine stop working or leaving it in a locker in the lodge...

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Which makes me think...

    What are the implications of cold weather for existing electric-car batteries, besides the problems of just keeping the passenger compartment habitably warm (which puts a lot of extra drain on the battery)?

    1. Robert Sneddon

      Re: Which makes me think...

      An early electric car made by Enfield used a separate LPG heater with a small fuel tank to heat the passenger compartment when it got too cold. I think most modern electric cars use the cooling loops for the motor and battery pack to heat the cabin with top-ups from the battery as needed.

  7. DCFusor Silver badge

    Not to be mean, but

    The referenced article is full of the magic words "if" and "up to" just like all the articles on science pages about energy storage devices and specifically super caps for the last few decades - only one has come to pass - the LiIon battery. Which still makes no economic sense for my off-grid house, but seems to be OK in my Volt, kind of.

    It all seems to have some issue before it makes market. I'll wait and consider all such junk "requests for more money so I can get tenure or a nicer office" till the track record is better than one in > ten thousand.

    Moore's "law" is only about transistors/wafer and is already broken for that, essentially. Cut the atoms/transistor any more and electron wave function doesn't fit...they fall out or shoot off the ends ballistically. Clock speeds stopped going up years ago as well, since the tech to use other than silicon (conceptually trivial) at high resolution doesn't exist yet.

    Too many think it works for everything....nope.

  8. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

    "Parky Prius?"

    It's been reported to me the 'Parky Priuses' (Toyotas parked at airports for a week or so) go dead because the keyless entry reader fails to go to sleep, chatters away endlessly, and runs the smaller 12v battery flat. Then the car won't start, and you'll need a jump. System design mistake?

    (2nd hand Info Alert)

    1. druck Silver badge

      Re: "Parky Prius?"

      I jump started one for the mother-in-law which had been out of use for a while, took it out for a good spin, then parked it up for lunch. On trying to start it again, it appeared to be flat again, not a peep out of the engine - until it just started moving, thenI realised it was in full electric mode - DOH!

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