MIT’s solid-state battery breakthrough may see phones last for days

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A breakthrough in battery architecture could lead to lithium batteries with far greater energy densities than those used today

One of the many ways scientists hope to improve the performance of today’s lithium batteries is by swapping out some of the liquid components for solid ones. Known as solid-state batteries, these experimental devices could greatly extend the life of electric vehicles and mobile devices by significantly upping the energy density packed inside. Scientists at MIT are now reporting an exciting advance toward this future, demonstrating a new type of solid-state battery architecture that overcomes some limitations of current designs.

In a regular lithium battery, a liquid electrolyte serves as the medium through which the lithium ions travel back and forth between the anode and cathode as the battery is charged and discharged. One problem is that this liquid is highly volatile and can sometimes result in battery fires, like those that plagued Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 smartphone.

Replacing this liquid electrolyte for a solid material wouldn’t just make batteries safer and less prone to fires, it could also open up new possibilities for other key components of the battery. The anode in today’s lithium batteries is made from a mix of copper and graphite, but if it were made of pure lithium instead, it could break the “energy-density bottleneck of current Li-ion chemistry,” according to a recent study published in Trends in Chemistry.

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Electric cars will challenge state power grids

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A Chevrolet Volt hybrid car connected to a charging station at a parking garage in Los Angeles.

SEATTLE — When Seattle City Light unveiled five new electric vehicle charging stations last month in an industrial neighborhood south of downtown, the electric utility wasn’t just offering a new spot for drivers to fuel up. It also was creating a way for the service to figure out how much more power it might need as electric vehicles catch on.

Seattle aims to have nearly a third of its residents driving electric vehicles by 2030. Washington state is No. 3 in the nation in per capita adoption of plug-in cars, behind California and Hawaii. But as Washington and other states urge their residents to buy electric vehicles — a crucial component of efforts to reduce carbon emissions — they also need to make sure the electric grid can handle it.

The average electric vehicle requires 30 kilowatt hours to travel 100 miles — the same amount of electricity an average American home uses each day to run appliances, computers, lights and heating and air conditioning.

An Energy Department study found that increased electrification across all sectors of the economy could boost national consumption by as much as 38 percent by 2050, in large part because of electric vehicles. The environmental benefit of electric cars depends on the electricity being generated by renewables.

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New graphene battery recharges blazingly fast, and it’s already on the market

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Faster charging, longer lasting, and lower temperatures. These are the three major benefits from a lithium battery that has been infused with wonder-material graphene. Thing is, we’ve all heard about the benefits of graphene before, but despite all the hype, we’ve yet to really see it used in devices and products that you can actually buy.

That’s about to change according to Real Graphene, a Los Angeles-based technology company working on graphene-enhanced battery cells. Digital Trends spoke to CEO Samuel Gong about what benefits integrating graphene into a lithium battery will bring, and they’re extremely compelling. Even better news is that the tech is almost ready for mainstream use.

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VW unveils charging butler robot concept for electric cars

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Volkswagen has unveiled a new concept for a charging butler robot that can charge electric vehicles in a parking garage using mobile battery packs.

The German automaker says that “mobile robots will charge electric vehicles completely autonomously in the future.”

Mark Möller, Head of Development at Volkswagen Group Components, commented:

“The mobile charging robot will spark a revolution when it comes to charging in different parking facilities, such as multistorey car parks, parking spaces and underground car parks because we bring the charging infrastructure to the car and not the other way around. With this, we are making almost every car park electric, without any complex individual infrastructural measures. It’s a visionary prototype, which can be made into reality quite quickly, if the general conditions are right”,

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New battery tech can keep your smartphone charged for five continuous days

h can keep your smartphone charged for five continuous days

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The new high-capacity lithium-sulfur batteries can pave way for cheaper electric cars and solar grids.

Researchers have developed a new solution that is capable of powering smartphones for five continuous days or electric cars to run over 1,000 km without needing to refuel.

The new battery solution does away with the traditional lithium-ion combination in modern batteries that power devices such as smartwatches, smartphones, and even pacemakers. Instead, researchers used lithium-sulfur batteries to achieve ultra-high capacity.

Researchers at Australia-based Monash University said the team could re-configure the design of sulfur cathodes using the existing materials in standard lithium-ion batteries. The reconfiguration helped researchers achieve higher stress levels without registering any drop in overall capacity or performance.

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Tesla patents new chemistry for better, longer-lasting and cheaper batteries

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Tesla has made a lot of battery moves this year and it is closing the year by filing a patent on a new chemistry for better, longer-lasting and cheaper batteries.

Earlier this year, we reported on Tesla’s battery research partner, Jeff Dahn and his team at Dalhousie University, unveiling the impressive results of tests on a new battery cell that could last over 1 million miles in an electric vehicle.

The new battery tested is a Li-Ion battery cell with a next-generation “single crystal” NMC cathode and a new advanced electrolyte.

Since then, Tesla has been filing US and international patents on the new battery chemistry.

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Gates, Bezos bet on flow battery technology, a potential rival to big bets on lithium-ion

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H/O ESS containers

The U.S. energy storage market is expected to grow by a factor of 12 in the next five years, from 430MW deployed in 2019 to more than 5GW and a value of more than $5 billion by 2024, says Wood Mackenzie Energy Storage Service.

Tesla and GM are making big bets on lithium-ion batteries for energy storage systems and electric vehicles, but billionaire investors and venture capital firms are investing in competing battery technology, such as flow batteries.

Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the group of private investors led by Bill Gates and fellow billionaires Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and Jack Ma, invested in iron-flow battery maker ESS in November.

ESS, which makes long-duration, iron flow batteries, secured $30 million in a Series C investment round from Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), the group of private investors led by Bill Gates and fellow billionaires Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, Richard Branson and Jack Ma, among others.

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Electric-car battery prices dropped 13% in 2019, will reach $100/kwh in 2023

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Tesla Model S lithium-ion battery pack in rolling chassis

Although electric cars haven’t quite taken off in the 2010s the way some had anticipated, sheer economics are pointing to the 2020s as the time when EVs will find that market fever pitch.

From 2010 to 2019, lithium-ion battery prices (when looking at the battery pack as a whole) have fallen from $1,100 per kilowatt-hour to $156/kwh—an 87% cut. From 2018 to 2019 alone, that represents a cut of 13%.

Those numbers were part of an annual report released Tuesday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). The report also suggested that we’ll reach the $100/kwh mark earlier than it had previously anticipated—by 2023.

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Scientists develop superfast-charging, high-capacity potassium batteries

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Skoltech researchers in collaboration with scientists from the Institute for Problems of Chemical Physics of RAS and the Ural Federal University have shown that high-capacity, high-power batteries can be made from organic materials without lithium or other rare elements. In addition, they demonstrated the impressive stability of cathode materials and recorded high energy density in fast charge/discharge potassium-based batteries. The results of their studies were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry A, the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters and Chemical Communications.

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used for energy storage, particularly in portable electronics. The demand for batteries is surging due to the rapid advancement of electric vehicles with high requirements for lithium. For example, Volvo intends to increase the share of electric vehicles to 50 percent of its overall sales by 2025, and Daimler announced its plans to give up internal combustion engines altogether, shifting the emphasis to electric vehicles.

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Gas plants will get crushed by wind, solar by 2035, study says

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Generators now on drawing boards will be left uneconomical

Natural gas-fired power plants, which have crushed the economics of coal, are on the path to being undercut themselves by renewable power and big batteries, a study found.

By 2035, it will be more expensive to run 90% of gas plants being proposed in the U.S. than it will be to build new wind and solar farms equipped with storage systems, according to the report Monday from the Rocky Mountain Institute. It will happen so quickly that gas plants now on the drawing boards will become uneconomical before their owners finish paying for them, the study said.

The development would be a dramatic reversal of fortune for gas plants, which 20 years ago supplied less than 20% of electricity in the U.S. Today that share has jumped to 35% as hydraulic fracturing has made natural gas cheap and plentiful, forcing scores of coal plants to close nationwide.

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Renewables meet 50% of electricity demand on Australia’s power grid for first time

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For a brief moment solar, wind and hydro combined to deliver more than half the power into the National Electricity Market

Australia’s main electricity grid was briefly powered by 50% renewable energy this week in a new milestone that experts say will become increasingly normal.

Data on the sources of power in the National Electricity Market showed that at 11.50am on Wednesday, renewables were providing 50.2% of the power to Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia – the five states served by the market.

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How cheap must batteries get for renewables to compete with fossil fuels?

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Production of lithium batteries for environmentally friendly electric cars future of energy

 While solar and wind power are rapidly becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuels in areas with lots of sun and wind, they still can’t provide the 24/7 power we’ve become used to. At present, that’s not big a problem because the grid still features plenty of fossil fuel plants that can provide constant baseload or ramp up to meet surges in demand.

But there’s broad agreement that we need to dramatically decarbonize our energy supplies if we’re going to avoid irreversible damage to the climate. That will mean getting rid of the bulk of on-demand, carbon-intensive power plants we currently rely on to manage our grid.

Alternatives include expanding transmission infrastructure to shuttle power from areas where the wind is blowing to areas where it isn’t, or managing demand using financial incentive to get people to use less energy during peak hours. But most promising is pairing renewable energy with energy storage to build up reserves for when the sun stops shining.

The approach is less complicated than trying to redesign the grid, say the authors of a new paper in <emJoule, but also makes it possible to shift much more power around than demand management. A key question that hasn’t been comprehensively dealt with, though, is how cheap energy storage needs to get to make this feasible.

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