IBM Welcomes Two New Companies to Its 500-mile Range Lithium-Air Battery Project
April 20, 2012 11:08 AM
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IBM's Battery 500 Project research lab
The two newcomers are Asahi Kasei and Central Glass
Two well-known manufacturers have jumped on board IBM's Battery 500 Project, which is expected to provide lithium-air
batteries for electric vehicles
The two newcomers are Asahi Kasei, a leading chemical manufacturer and global supplier of separator membrane for lithium-ion batteries in Japan, and Central Glass, which is a global electrolyte manufacturer for lithium-ion batteries.
“These new partners share our vision of electric cars being critical components of building a cleaner, better world, which is far less dependent on oil,” said Dr. Winfried Wilcke, IBM’s Principle Investigator who initiated the Battery 500 Project. “Their compatible experience, knowledge and commitment to bold innovation in electric vehicle battery technology can help us transfer this research from the lab onto the road.”
While both manufacturers typically work with lithium-ion batteries, they'll be working on critical parts of lithium-air batteries for IBM. Asahi Kasei is expected to create a vital component for the lithium-air batteries using its knowledge in membrane technology, and Central Glass is expected to make a new class of electrolytes and additives to improve lithium-air batteries using its chemical experience.
“New materials development is vitally important to ensuring the viability of lithium-air battery technology,” said Tatsuya Mori, Director, Executive Managing Officer, Central Glass. “As a long-standing partner of IBM and leader in developing high-performance electrolytes for batteries, we’re excited to share each other’s chemical and scientific expertise in a field as exciting as electric vehicles.”
IBM's Battery 500 Project, which launched in 2009, aims to create lithium-air EV batteries that are capable of traveling 500 miles before needing to recharge. The idea is to make EV adoption more widespread by offering greener vehicles capable of matching the range of gasoline vehicles.
Today, most EVs can drive about 100 miles before needing to recharge their lithium-ion batteries. This is an issue, since gasoline vehicles are
capable of going four to five times that range on a single tank
. One option could be a larger battery, but that would weigh down the vehicle considerably.
Instead, IBM has been working on an alternative: lithium-air batteries. Lithium-air batteries have a higher energy density than lithium-ion batteries, mainly because of their primary fuel being oxygen from the atmosphere and the fact that they have lighter cathodes.
IBM eventually hopes to create a lithium-air battery that has an
energy density 10 times greater than that of lithium-ion batteries
Lithium-ion batteries for EVs have had a lot of problems over the last year, namely with fires and safety issues concerning vehicles like the
Fisker Karma plug-in
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RE: Get over it, please!
4/22/2012 3:30:34 PM
Indeed oil is magical stuff when it comes to cost, energy density, volumetric density, and easy of storage and transport. We also already have trillions of dollars worth of distribution and support infrastructure for it.
There is no clear universal economical solution. There are however some approaches that show promise as partial solutions. Much like we generate energy now from multiple sources, coal, gas, natural gas, hydroelectric, nuclear, wind, solar, and geothermal, the solution for transportation energy probably lies in a multipronged approach.
It's also important to keep in mind that we cannot afford to make a massive change over, but need to take incremental steps that do not require a massive investment in a new refueling infrastructure to become viable.
PHEV's are definitely a step in the right direction as they start to supplement oil as a transportation fuel with electricity. Electricity can be generated from a wide variety of sources. PHEV's have the advantage that the grid infrastructure needed to charge them can be built up over time as the number of PHEV's on the road increases over time. It will take decades to transition to a point where the majority of light vehicles are PHEV's. PHEV's also have a huge advantage over all electrics because of the much smaller battery capacity needed. Since the battery pack cost is such a dominant factor in Electric vehicle pricing PHEV's will become cheap enough for large market penetration long before all electrics. The charging paradigm of PHEV's which is relatively slow charge overnight on non-peak demand hours is also a good match to allow a paced development of grid infrastructure.
PHEV's however become less and less competitive with increasing vehicle weight where energy demands are higher. That is still the realm of gasoline/diesel. One option here is a transition to natural gas for heavy vehicles. Another possibility is coupled electric power on major transportation arteries, essentially PHEV's without the batteries that run on coupled electricity on roads that are so equipped, and oil or methane the rest of the time.
Hydrogen fuel cells are not a near term economically feasible solution. The painfully poor storage and transportation problems, the high cost and the poor energy efficiency of the end to end solution put it out of reach economically without some major breakthrough. These very factors are what caused the largest US fuel cell manufacturer, Ballard, to abandon their vehicle fuel cell program. Modern electrolysis vehicle refueling stations consume about 75kwh of energy to produce 1kg of compressed hydrogen, the fuel cell in the vehicle can only recover about 16 Kwh of that energy. This cost of hydrogen production puts fuel cell vehicles out of economic reach without some kind of production cost breakthrough such as thermochemical production off of high temperature nuclear reactors. Even if the production cost of hydrogen were to drop to economically competitive levels the abysmal storage and transportation problems of hydrogen make it likely that it would be converted to a liquid fuel such as methanol. Taking the efficiency hit in trade for solving the storage and transportation problems. This is increasingly likely as ICE thermal efficiencies continue to improve.A Methanol fuel cell system is also a possibility.
Fusion seems to be an extremely unlikely source of economical energy within the next 30-50 years. As much as people want it to work, and have wanted it to work for the last 60 years, it is an extremely difficult problem to solve. In more than half a century of work we have yet to succeed in breaking even on energy in to energy out. Duty cycles are incredibly low, with facilities like NIF only able to do a few shots a day, costs are enormous, energy density is low (ITER is more than 20 times larger than an equivalent power light water reactor). There are also unsolved problems such as the first wall problem and tritium fuel production that are ignored in the hype of scientists painting a rosy picture in search of more funding. I hope they get it, because it's a field that needs to be explored, but fusion power is not going to be producing commercial energy in the next half century, if ever.
Wind power can make a small contribution, but the intermittency problem and need for energy storage and production backup are hidden costs that essentially double the actual price of wind power from what advocates claim. It's a good match with hydroelectric power, but hydro power is limited with only about 4% of our energy coming from hydro and most of the potential hydro power has already been exploited.
Solar power has the advantage of production during peak demand hours, but it is still too expensive by a factor of 5. It also has hidden storage costs and wide daily and seasonal variations.
Biofuels when scaled up to make a sizable impact on vehicle fuel requirements are not feasible either. Because of the low solar conversion efficiency (~0.5%) they require enormous amounts of land and vastly exceed our available fresh water supplies. Salt water algae approaches seem the only viable approach that can scale large enough, and again these have difficulties as well.
On a near term basis the most viable energy sources seem to be nuclear energy and natural gas. Nuclear is what I would prefer as it has by far the least environmental impact of any energy source, however if I were to bet money I'd have to put it on Natural gas in the next 20 years.
RE: Get over it, please!
4/24/2012 9:04:53 PM
Well, you have your facts ok, for the types of energy that you have described.
You have totally missed the electricity production from the sea. ALL, or NEARLY all the countries that have access to the sea can have a big electricity production.
I will link just a couple of technologies, of which one also has a "by-product" of making potable (aka drinking) water due to the high pressure it makes. Similar to de-salination plants, but instead of USING HUGE Amounts of electricity for production, it actually makes it :-)
Here are just a couple (2-3) of links of the ones that I personally like:
<- seems to indicate that systems have already been built elsewhere.
I hope that gets you thinking about hte power of Waves and the Sea :-)
Then some of that energy can also be used to convert sea-water to Hydrogen to replace LPG ;-) A win-win situation if you ask me.
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher
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