New Lithium-Air Battery Could Improve the Range of Electric Vehicles

We’d all like to be able to charge our cars in a few hours and then go across the country on a single charge, but that’s not exactly possible right now, unfortunately. Still, this doesn’t mean that it won’t be possible in the future, as researchers and scientists are constantly working on perfecting battery designs. Recent reports suggest that a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge have created an incredible new Lithium-air battery design that could be used to improve the driving range of electric vehicles by up to 400 miles. Exciting, right?

It gets better too, as these batteries are apparently a fifth of the cost and weight of what is being installed in electric cars right now. They also pack ten times the energy density, all thanks to an ingenious design based on a highly porous carbon electrode made out of graphene. In order to make sure that the chemical reaction driving the cell remains stable, the researchers had to implement a series of additives. When compared to previous lithium-air batteries that were prone to failure after a number of recharges, these new ones have been recharged over 2000 times and they still work just fine. Professor Clare Grey from the University’s Department of Chemistry has stated the following:

“While there are still plenty of fundamental studies that remain to be done, to iron out some of the mechanistic details, the current results are extremely exciting. We are still very much at the development stage, but we’ve shown that there are solutions to some of the tough problems associated with this technology. What we really want is a [true] lithium-air battery – one that just takes in air, without having to remove CO2, nitrogen and water. And now we have a system that at least tolerates a lot of water.”

Improve Your Halloween Display With This Motion Activated Window Figure

I agree with very little when it comes to certain policies which have been fostered upon the globe by good old Uncle Sam, the United States of America, Halloween on the other hand is executed, no pun intended, with all the intended style and spirit which consumers have been accustomed to over the decades. But what are the best decorations which one could use when decorating a house, property or to scare your friends?

That’s an interesting question which UK-based people do not have the answer to, but a US Internet store by the name of Think Geek does and is currently offering an easy-to-install motorized human face that taps on a selected window at pre-set intervals, the website states the “figure is hung via suction cup on a window so that there appears to be a person looking at your unwitting onlooker. It would be wise to play this prank on an individual which you know, although I am not sure this would be the best of ideas in a country which boasts a collection of around 300 million guns.

This device of sorts is motion activated and can be set to a maximum of 3 taps every ten seconds, the finger tip is metal capped with the aim of producing a loud enough sound to draw attention to the scare, it also runs on AAA batteries. It also includes above suction cup, no surprise, and a finishing line for those hard to reach scare surprises. This shock tactic is priced at $59.99 and would be sure to find a market as Halloween approaches.

Thank you thinkgeek for providing us with this information.

Tesla Launches Powerwall Home Battery – $3.5K for 10kWh!

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla has just announced a new line of stationary batteries for home and utilities. Called Powerwall, these units are meant to store energy when it is scarce, expensive or intermittent. Powerwall can scale up from basic home units to massive energy storage farms for utilities.

For now there are two versions, a 10kWh and a 7kWh model, priced at $3,500 and $3,000 USD respectively. The 10kWh unit is meant more for use as a backup power source in case the grid goes down. The 7kWh unit is built more around dealing with daily power fluctuations related to renewables like solar panels. While both units are much the same and be used interchangeably, Tesla’s materials do say that the 7kWh unit is meant for daily cycling and the 10kWh unit for weekly cycling. Once you compare the price/kWh, it might just be that the 7kWh unit might have some excess capacity built in to let it hit the same 10 year lifespan the larger unit does. As batteries degrade over cycles, capacity can be lost so this might just be the case.

Both units can be mounted unobtrusively on a wall, at only 7 inches thick, 51 inches tall and 34 inches wide. Operating temperatures range from -20C to 43C and the battery itself is liquid cooled. Installation for homes is expected to take between and hour to and hour and a half. Powerwall will be sold by Tesla Energy, which maybe a division in Tesla in a partnership with SolarCity, a solar panel firm. Deliveries begin this summer and units are reservable already. You can find the full press release and the Powerwall page at these links.

Batteries Need to Triple Capacity and Cut Price by 67%

Batteries hold a strong place in today’s lifestyle, from remote controls, mobile phones, to hybrid and all-electric car batteries. Battery research is one of the hottest subjects in material science, with researchers promising new creative ideas from their labs. Despite battery capacity slowly increasing in recent months and years, we need something radical to appear that could already have been invented; locked away in a lab somewhere.

Right now, batteries cost roughly $300 per each kiloWatt-hour. For all-electric cars to become a serious and affordable contender to rule out fossil fuels, we need that figure to drop to around $100. Dropping the price could be easy, just increase the size of the battery. However, for electric cars to take off, they need to have small enough batteries that can provide long-term power supply. Currently electric vehicles (EV’s) have a battery density of around 200 W-hr/kg, that needs to rise to around 600 W-hr/kg.

Today’s batteries contain lithium, pretty good for what we’ve got out of them, but researchers have started playing with silicone. Using silicone, can yield 1 silicone atom for every 4.4 lithium atoms. The problem with using silicone? The massive expansion under load.

They first experimented with silicon nanowires, adjusting the spacing enough to allow for expansion, the issue here is after a few charge and discharge cycles; the nanowires lose form and become a mess, losing all benefits to using silicon.

Tests then moved on to using solid wire inside a silicon shell and then placed inside a rigid shell. The issue with this again is the expansion of the silicon. Tests proved that the silicon expanded to the extent of breaking the shell beyond safe use.

At this point, the researchers changed their field of view to self-fixing polymers, which basically rearrange hydrogen bonds to potentially restore breaks. They coated their silicon beads with this polymer and if a break does occur they will gradually heal over the breaks “While you’re sleeping, your battery can self-heal” Cui, head researcher, said.

There is now a commercially available 270 W-hr/kg battery on the market, with a 360 W-hr/kg version on the way. However, we do not know on which of the previous technologies this is based on.

To read more on this subject, see ArsTechnica’s full coverage here.

Ever Wanted to Make Your Own AA Battery?

Have you always found going to a shop to buy AA batteries for remote controls, toys or clocks a labourious and wasteful task? Well now you can make your own with this handy tutorial!

Just be sure to have plenty of lead, manganese dioxide, potassium hydroxide, carbon powder, and zinc sheets in your cupboard. You know, all of those essential items each and every one of us has to hand. All you then need to do is get a plastic syringe and put it all together!

Now this really isn’t intended to be cheaper or easier than buying some batteries, but of course it’s a fun experiment to try out for yourself.

See the video from NurdRage on YouTube bellow.

Source: Gizmodo

Charge Your Phone in 30 Seconds

Reuters reports about an Israeli company that claims to have developed a prototype that could charge a mobile phone in 30 seconds.

“Using nano-technology to synthesize artificial molecules, Tel Aviv-based StoreDot says it has developed a battery that can store a much higher charge more quickly, in effect acting like a super-dense sponge to soak up power and retain it.”

The technology could eventually charge a car in minutes, rather than hours – this would be something of a massive breakthrough for electric cars, with battery charging being one of their biggest drawbacks.

The company says that the technology now exists, but needs to be refined before it can be implemented into consumer devices. They’ve received $48 million in funding to help them achieve that goal and say that it could be ready for all of us in 2016.

Source: Reuters

Electric Car Energy Density Boosted 7x Using Poroxide

Electric cars are here to stay, it doesn’t matter if they’re powered by hydrogen or a plug socket, they’ve proven to be more efficient than petrol engines and that’s an important step in the right direction. There are lots of electric cars already on our roads, but there is also still a lot of room for improvement and one of the current sticking points is the batteries, they’re big, they’re heavy and they only last so long before needed to be recharged.

Finding ways to make batteries last longer between charges, whilst also making them smaller and lighter is very important to the future success of electric vehicles, and the latest development by a team at the School of Engineering at the University of Tokyo may have found a way to do it. Their new development technique can boost the storage capacity of a lithium-ion battery by 7 times, without any effect to the charging or discharging cycle.

As with most new discoveries, it’s still a long way from being put into production cars, or any other technology for that matter, but it’s a big step in the right direction. Imagine electric cars with seven times the current range, or a battery 1/7th of the size and weight, both of which can have big benefits in terms of efficiency.

Thank you Venture Beat for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Venture Beat.

Harley-Davidson Unveils the Company’s First Electric Motorcycle


Motorcycle manufacturer Harley-Davidson unveiled the Project LiveWire electric motorcycle, showing the famed brand wants to diversify its motorcycle offerings.

Unfortunately, similar to other first-generation electric vehicles, the project motorcycle has a relatively short battery range.  A single charge lasts for about 130 miles, and recharging takes anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes – a necessary pit stop for any road trips.

Kudos to Harley-Davidson for shaking up its marketing and sales strategy, as there are very few full-size electric motorcycles available.  A company called Zero Motorcycles announced a full-sized model in 2010, and predicts 2,400 units sold per year.

Here is what Matt Levatich, Harley-Davidson president, said in a press statement:

“We think that the trends in both EV technology and customer openness to EV products, both automotive and motorcycles, is only going to increase, and when you think about sustainability and environmental trends, we just see that being an increasing part of the lifestyle and the requirements of riders.  So, nobody can predict right now how big that industry will be or how significant it will be.”

To help promote the electric motorcycle, Harley-Davidson plans a 30-city tour across the United States, with dozens of selected customers rolling across the country.  Harley-Davidson likes to innovate and experiment with different motorcycles, but embracing EV could be a worthwhile long-term investment.

Thank you Sky News for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of Harley-Davidson 

Bluetooth Padlock TEO Lets You Share Unlock Permissions With Friends On The Fly

TEO is a bluetooth-enabled smart-lock produced by OckCorp and is already a week past its start in the Kickstarter campaign. Their target is to raise $151,000 and then start TEO’s production. TEO is not the first smart-lock on the market, there are also a variety of deadbolts that secure your doors wirelessly. However, TEO is a bit different by being more versatile, and can be unlocked via Bluetooth with your smartphone.

Gord Duncan, TEO’s inventor, says he came up with the idea while renting a car in Costa Rica. He was afraid of losing the keys to his vehicle and thought about a carabiner which the user could lock. The result was TEO, a carabiner which the user can lock and unlock with a dedicated iOS app.

The features TEO has planned are the ability to open more than one padlock with the same phone, a feature that can let the owner of a lock send time-constrained or permanent unlocking permissions to another app, and also a location tracker with an alarm to trigger if the lock is tampered with. OckCorp also points out to an Android app in the future as well.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JN84DsqbR4o[/youtube]

There are still a few things to think about before actually starting to develop TEO, as OckCorp mentions, such as the fact that TEO is still dependant on batteries. However, Duncan implies that the gadget is still a lock and “it has to do what a lock does really well” after all. If the Kickstarter campaign will be successful, TEO can start shipping in December.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information

Bill Gates Foundation Funding Urine Battery Research

Next time your phone needs charging, spare a thought for the fact that not every part of the world is equipped with a USB socket, wall charger or similar device. The Bill Gates Foundation is now funding the research by Bristol Robotic Laboratory who have discovered a new power source, pee.

The pee powered batteries use a microbial fuel cell, in which micro-organisms take the urine, and break it down into an electrical output. It passes through several tubed that break down the urine to create electricity and the end product is actually a cleaner waste which is easier to dispose of. The cells are powerful enough to charge a smartphone or similar device.

There are short sides to the technology, one being that you need to pour pee into the battery, not exactly the sort of thing that would go down well at your local bus stop, office work place or supermarket for example, especially since it’s not the most compact of devices. Yet in parts of the world where power isn’t abundant, these special batteries could be a truly ground breaking invention and one that finds a carbon friendly solution to something that would otherwise just be a waste product.

[youtube]http://youtu.be/4LTprRQTKAw[/youtube]

Thank you Pocket Lint for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Pocket Lint.