Ambri’s Quest For a New Grid Battery Hits Problems

Rechargeable battery-based technology has steadily improved over recent years as demand has risen for lithium-ion based implementations, which include storing energy from intermittent renewable sources. The problem lies with the fore mentioned lithium based tech which are as yet both too expensive to run and also provide a shorter life span than desired for a wider scale role out of grid storage on an industrial scale.

This is where a start-up by the name of Ambri hoped to change that by committing resources with the aim of producing a new type of grid-scale battery. Unfortunately, Ambri has revealed disappointing test results for its novel technology which has led to the company axing one-quarter of its staff in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The start-up has also revealed plans to push back commercial deployment indefinitely.

Where did it all go wrong? The companies CEO, Phil Giudice explained that its down to the seals which keep Ambri’s liquid electrodes enclosed. “These liquid-metal batteries are housed inside steel cans that must be hermetically sealed with materials that hold up for many years”. Researchers have been working on this issue with the aim of developing the correct seals for the most part of this year (2015). However, after much tinkering it was concluded that current designs had failed to meet the correct performance standards which they are expected to achieve.

Ambri’s technology focuses on the usage of two liquid metals as electrodes; these are then separated by a liquid-salt electrolyte.

Another challenge which Ambri faces is the reality of challenging the market dominance of standard lithium-ion batteries, which have more or less taken over the market for electric vehicles and also for residential energy storage. These batteries continue to go up in performance and down in price, so much so that current market prices have dropped by half in the last few years. On top of this, there is also the view that “commercial and industrial use of lithium-ion batteries for energy storage could become economically viable in the next three to five years if the decline in battery prices persists.”

Ambri will need to perfect the technology behind this venture if it’s to challenge current tech at a comparable price point, if not then it will be a steep learning curve which could ultimately end in failure. I do feel there needs to be a more advanced battery power design which is kinder on the environment, after all, the huge quantities of materials and chemicals which are used to produce each battery and the disposal element all need to be factored in.

Thank you technologyreview for providing us with this information.

YouTube and Netflix Marked as a Threat to a Greener Internet

While Netflix and YouTube users sit comfortably in their chairs and watch their favourite TV series and subscribed channels, service providers are constantly struggling to come up with better and greener solutions to power their data centres and keep up with constant demands. However, the lack of real results has been the main concern of Greenpeace recently.

The NGO stated that the growing demand from services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube presents a challenge for the companies to rely solely on renewable energy. However, Greenpeace points out that video streaming as a whole proves to be a challenge to get the Internet to go green.

Their report shows that video streaming services total up to more than 60% of the Internet’s traffic, which is likely to reach 76% by the end of 2018. Despite the latter, companies are still searching for ways to power up their services with greener energy from geothermal, solar and hydro solutions.

Greenpeace came up with a ranking for companies that make efforts in supplying their services with clean energy. Apple is said to come up as number one thanks to it investments into solar energy, followed by Google and Facebook for their ambition to rely more on green energy and not traditional sources.

Though an official ranking has not been made for Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, the NGO said that online videos are one of the most power-hungry type of service on the Internet. No doubt this answers the question on who has the biggest energy consumption footprint on the web. However, Google expressed its goal on having its YouTube service reach the 100% mark in renewable energy. Unfortunately, the service only reached a percentage of 35 up until now.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, comes from the actual power providers. Electrical companies rely mostly on traditional power-generating techniques and are slow on switching to renewable energy due to the cost of making that step. Until we see some dedication on going green from the latter, services and other power-demanding businesses are likely to show slow progress in this area as well.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Techbu

Mobile Power Consumption – Attention Turns to Network Connections

In today’s fierce market, manufacturers have designed ever more power efficient processors and displays; this has resulted in attention being turned to another of the most power-hungry components, the modem.

“The modem is, without a doubt, one of the most crucial parts of the smartphone in today’s connected society. With 4G LTE, users consume orders-of-magnitude more data than with 3G. Increased consumption, paired with the advent of cloud technologies, requires that smartphones always be connected to the network—always sending data back and forth. As a result, the modem and RF frontend have become pivotal components of the smartphone in enabling connectivity and doing so without impacting battery life.”

Coinciding with becoming more efficient, modems also strive to become more powerful, something that typically doesn’t go hand in hand without innovative leaps in technology, similar to new nano-processes in processors.

Moor Insights & Society have published a research paper delving in-depth into throughput, power consumption and antenna tuner capability offerings from Samsung and Qualcomm; this research paper can be found here.

Thanks to Moor Insights & Society for sharing this information with us

Sony Says 2K Smartphones Are Not worth It – Battery Comes First

Displays have changed and evolved drastically over the last decade. Improving resolutions, pixel densities, refresh rates and colour reproduction are all key driving forces behind the massive industry. But one of the big players has just come out and said that display resolutions shouldn’t be put above performance in the mobile space – namely battery performance. We all remember a time when we lost our minds over colour backlit LCD display panels on mobiles, then came the ever marching improvements. Standard definition, high definition and now ultra high definition – when does enough become enough?

Sony has taken a different route with its latest flagship smartphone with the Xperia Z3 – and has opted not to follow LG down the QHD path. While this news may leave some a little disappointed, Sony says it’s for the better. In an interview with TrustedReviews Sony’s Director of Xperia Marketing Calum MacDougall said “ Well, there are three important reasons” as to why the Xperia range hasn’t gone QHD. Firstly, MacDougall comments that “relatively small screens [make] it is very difficult for the human eye to discern the difference between 2K and Full HD. Thinking again about user-motivated innovation, we see from the user experience point of view that the differences are minimal, particularly if you add on top our Sony TV technologies which are reason number two.”

Lastly, MacDougall states that battery life consumption is also a major factor for the decision. “If we believe that a key part of the user experience for consumers is to have a longer term battery, and if we believe we can deliver a great screen with Full HD and our Sony technologies, we don’t believe the trade-off between having a 2K screen and battery consumption is the right trade-off for a consumer.”

The question that remains for consumers is simple – would you rather have improved battery life performance across your smartphone? Or is resolution into the stratosphere more appealing to you?

Thanks to TrustedReviews for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of Sony Mobile