Thursday, October 4, 2007

Energy Club Discussion Recap: A Battery Revolution?

Thanks to everyone who attended/participated in the recent Battery Discussion ('A Battery Revolution?', Oct 3, '07). There was a ton of participation for a diverse number of people with great backgrounds/perspectives.

I've been requested to follow up the discussion with this blog to encourage continued discussion on this topic. I'll first summarize some of what we talked about, then try to stimulate more discussion.

I've uploaded a slideshow and the handout I put together for the discussion:
http://mit.edu/bradwell/Public/BatteryDiscussion/

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Recap:

-Batteries are appealing because they have a low enough cost, long lifespan, are very reliable, and have enough power-to-energy suitable for most portable applications. Batteries were really enabled by portable applications - otherwise, electronic devices can simply run off of grid power, or generator power.

-Fuel cells have higher energy/power density that batteries, but their round-trip efficiency is ~35%, compared to >90% for Li-ion batteries, and they are more expensive.

-Neither batteries nor fuel cells, in of themselves, are 'renewable energy sources', but rather, they could play a role in the energy infrastructure, enabling renewable energy sources (like wind, solar, hydro, nuclear (?)) to charge the batteries/create hydrogen, which in turn, could power our cars. This could break the CO2 cycle and reduce dependence on foreign oil.

-Flywheels and capacitors can supply a lot of power, but do not have good energy density (or cost per unit energy, $/kWh).

-There is a company in Texas (EESTOR) making some pretty revolutionary claims about new ultracapacitors with higher 'energy' density that lithium-ion batteries (not to mention, longer lifespan, lower cost, and high power density). I would be very excited if this becomes a reality, but I am skeptical until I see a working model.

-There was much discussion about the use of batteries in hybrid electric vehicles (HEV's) /plug-in (PHEV's). Batteries are certainly pushing towards these markets, but they have more challenges to overcome, including safety, cost, and energy density.

-Lastly, the talk shifted towards other applications, such as renewable energy (i.e. wind power) support. Such a storage device must cost ~$100/kWh, have moderate efficiency (>70%), and very long lifespan (>3000 deep cycles). It's a very tough market to enter, but if a battery can do it, it's a 'game changer'. Some utilities in the US are already installing sodium-sulfur (NAS) or flow batteries (Premium Power) for this (and other) grid power applications. The cost of the NAS battery alone is ~$170/kWh, vs. $100/kWh for lead-acid batteries (which don't have the cycle-life required for these applications), vs. $1000/kWh for Li-ion batteries.

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There were a couple of areas that we touched upon but didn't have any good answers to. I'd like to finish this post by posing the following questions:

1) What makes up the cost of a battery? I've heard that ~30% is materials related - but what are the other cost components? (i.e. manufacturing, transportation, labor, disposal of toxic chemicals?)

2) Is there a "Moore's Law" equivalent for batteries? How has the cost/energy density/power density improved over time?

Thanks!

(Also note - this blog was also posted in the 'energy storage' section of this blog site - feel free to comment on whichever one gets more responses!)

6 comments:

Palindrome said...

I admire the inspiration for newer innovations. IF vehicles were operated by lithium ion batteries then the world would literally be a different place. ME myself mainly caring for the environment itself would really hope for the best case scenario and would wish that vehicles would run on them batteries!
IF it were possible though, many corporations would lose a lot of money..
Look guys, there are plenty of different alternatives for the car running on a different energy source. Cars today have the ability to run on propane, vegetable oil, water, and battery, but if these acts were to be in effect asap, big companies would lose business thus luxurious companies not being able to pay off many things in essense declaring bankruptcy. It will disturb the whole economic status of car dealerships because competition would compare to cellular phone business. A shop in every corner and not a need for it as much..
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WEBMASTER said...

Hi ,

Thanks for writing such an interesting article. Its really good to know about the batteries in detail. Seriously do we realize how many things in your house that need batteries? Let’s count it, from the flashlight, cell phone, iPod, cameras, and many more. Knowing it should make us realize on how essential the presence of the batteries in our daily life. However, with that so many kinds of battery, which is generally different between one to another, sometimes we have some difficulties in finding the desired type.

Find the right batteries supplier is not hard if you check out batterystation.co.uk because this website provides the widest selection of batteries and you can choose the right battery based on the categories. You can get the procell batteries which available in several sizes and voltage. You also can find Duracell batteries that divided into duracell plus batteries and duracell ultra batteries. All of the batteries come with cheaper price because this website provides the discount batteries in bulk, wholesale, and retail quantities.

Thanks,
- Cresty Abraham

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