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Researchers at MIT strive to make today’s batteries obsolete

A team of researchers at MIT are working to make today’s batteries as extinct as the dodo bird. The researchers have been using acetylene gas to deposit carbon nanotubes onto silicon. The carbon nanotubes are then able to store as much if not more energy than today’s traditional lead or lithium batteries, but can be recharged hundreds of thousands of times unlike current battery technology which fails after a few thousand recharges at best.

The researchers have also tackled the manufacturing hurdle by depositing the nanotubes on silicon much in the same way current silicon parts are made making mass production more feasible than in the past. One major difference, however, is that the nanotube on silicon batteries actually act more like capacitors then traditional batteries. Capacitors, unlike batteries store less energy and discharge rapidly however can be recharged quickly. The team speculates that if they are able to make a large enough capacitor that it will function much like current batteries do.

Not surprisingly, there are some dissenters to the new technology.  A Researcher from the University of California at Davis has his doubts about the feasibility of such technology and doesn't see it making any significant inroads on existing batteries. Boston.com reports:

Andrew Burke, research engineer at the Institute of Transportation Studies at the University of California at Davis, said that the new capacitors would have to be many times more powerful than any previously created. "I have a lot of respect for those guys, but I have not seen any data," Burke said. "Until I see the data, I'm inclined to be skeptical." Even if Schindall's capacitors work, he doubts they'll transform the electronics industry overnight. Companies have too much invested in today's battery systems, and it would take years before carbon nanotube capacitors could be mass-produced.



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Skeptics....
By vortmax on 6/27/2006 10:31:11 AM , Rating: 2
What's the point of this skeptic? He's from a completely different location, school, and the funds to support that project are different. Does he think he'll be influencing them to stop their research? What's his real motive? Makes you wonder.

He should probably be spending his time researching something he thinks is better.





RE: Skeptics....
By bobsmith1492 on 6/27/2006 10:43:24 AM , Rating: 2
When you're working on a project, it's easy to get excited about the possibilities without looking at the bigger picture. That's where the whole idea of peer review comes in. Someone else can hear about an idea and disseminate the useful parts from the wishful thinking. In this case, there seems to be a lot of wishful thinking, especially since the development of a new "battery" technology would be extremely lucrative financially.


RE: Skeptics....
By masher2 (blog) on 6/27/2006 1:16:52 PM , Rating: 2
> "What's the point of this skeptic?"

The point is good journalistic practice. Getting both sides of the story is very important.

I've been reading about nanotube-based supercapacitor research for half a decade now. A little healthy skepticism is certainly justifiable.


RE: Skeptics....
By masher2 (blog) on 6/27/2006 1:16:52 PM , Rating: 3
> "What's the point of this skeptic?"

The point is good journalistic practice. Getting both sides of the story is very important.

I've been reading about nanotube-based supercapacitor research for half a decade now. A little healthy skepticism is certainly justifiable.


RE: Skeptics....
By TomZ on 6/27/2006 1:33:38 PM , Rating: 2
I think the problem with the statement from the skeptic is the he sounds very uninformed and doesn't really give any educated opinion. That is why his statements seem out of place.

It would be different if he said, well we did similar research here and ran into such-and-such a problem, or something like that. But instead he basically said he hasn't seen any data/reports and knows nothing about it.

So what is the point of including his views? An uninformed skeptic doesn't meet the journalistic principle of showing both sides of the story.


RE: Skeptics....
By masher2 (blog) on 6/27/2006 1:57:16 PM , Rating: 3
> " think the problem with the statement from the skeptic is the he sounds very uninformed..."

Let me translate his statements from research-speak into plain English:

"I haven't seen their data yet" = "Their research breakthrough hasn't been publicly published or peer-reviewed yet"

"I am inclined to be skeptical" = "I know plenty of other researchers have been working on this problem for quite some time, and that past announced breakthroughs have not panned out"

"I have a lot of respect for these guys" = "but you never know, they could have done it".


RE: Skeptics....
By TomZ on 6/27/2006 2:35:33 PM , Rating: 2
Bottom line is that the skeptic seems to know not any more about the reserarch than you or I do. He just knows "research speak."


RE: Skeptics....
By ddopson on 6/27/2006 2:53:09 PM , Rating: 2
um, yeah. so what. You should be coming to the same conclusions. I did.

Gee, battery like densities on a capicitor. Sounds nice, but where's the data? Nanotubes are a pain in the ass to work with. I don't see this being easy to bring to market.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.


RE: Skeptics....
By Tiamat on 6/27/2006 3:09:57 PM , Rating: 2
"CNT are a pain in the ass to work with" Of what research do you base that on? Maybe they were 15 years ago, but techniques have gotten much better and understanding of CNTs has advanced quite a bit as well.


RE: Skeptics....
By vortmax on 6/28/2006 10:40:50 AM , Rating: 2
The article clearly states that the researchers are still working on it. My point about this skeptic (and skeptics in general) is that they are very quick to point out the negative. It's clear that he has some 'other' motive to make the negative statements.

Peer reviewing is a good thing, no doubt, but current info for this research is not ready for peer review yet. This skeptic jumped the gun. I wondered why, that's all.


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