Supercharging Silicon Batteries – Powering Up LI Batteries

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The porosity of the nano-structured Tantalum (in black) enables the formation of silicon channels (in blue) allowing lithium ions to travel faster within the battery. The rigidity of the tantalum scaffold also limits the expansion of the silicon and preserve structural integrity. Credit: Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University Nanoparticles by Design Unit

Scientists have designed a novel silicon-based anode to provide lithium batteries with increased power and better stability.


As the world shifts towards renewable energy, moving on from fossil fuels, but at the same time relying on ever more energy-gobbling devices, there is a fast-growing need for larger high-performance batteries. Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) power most of our portable electronics, but they are flammable and can even explode, as it happened to a recent model of smartphone. To prevent such accidents, the current solution is to encapsulate the anode — which is the negative (-) electrode of the battery, opposite to the cathode (+) — into a graphite frame, thus insulating the lithium ions. However, such casing is limited to a small scale to avoid physical collapse, therefore restraining the capacity — the amount of energy you can store — of the battery.

Looking for better materials, silicon offers great advantages over carbon graphite for lithium batteries in terms of capacity. Six atoms of carbon are required to bind a single atom of lithium, but an atom of silicon can bind four atoms of lithium at the same time, multiplying the battery capacity by more than 10-fold. However, being able to capture that many lithium ions means that the volume of the anode swells by 300% to 400%, leading to fracturing and loss of structural integrity. To overcome this issue, OIST researchers have now reported in Advanced Science the design of an anode built on nanostructured layers of silicon — not unlike a multi-layered cake — to preserve the advantages of silicon while preventing physical collapse.

This new battery is also aiming to improve power, which is the ability to charge and deliver energy over time.

“The goal in battery technology right now is to increase charging speed and power output,” explained Dr. Marta Haro Remon, first author of the study. “While it is fine to charge your phone or your laptop over a long period of time, you would not wait by your electric car for three hours at the charging station.”

And when it comes to providing energy, you would want your car to start off quickly at a traffic light or a stop sign, requiring a high spike in power, rather than slowly creeping forward. A well-thought design of a silicone-based anode might be a solution and answer these expectations.img_0132-3

The idea behind the new anode in the Nanoparticles by Design Unit at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University is the ability to precisely control the synthesis and the corresponding physical structure of the nanoparticles. Layers of unstructured silicon films are deposited alternatively with tantalum metal nanoparticle scaffolds, resulting in the silicon being sandwiched in a tantalum frame.

“We used a technique called Cluster Beam Deposition,” continued Dr. Haro. “The required materials are directly deposited on the surface with great control. This is a purely physical method, there are no need for chemicals, catalysts or other binders.”

“We used a technique called Cluster Beam Deposition,” continued Dr. Haro. “The required materials are directly deposited on the surface with great control. This is a purely physical method, there are no need for chemicals, catalysts or other binders.”

The outcome of this research, led by Prof. Sowwan at OIST, is an anode with higher power but restrained swelling, and excellent cyclability — the amount of cycles in which a battery can be charged and discharged before losing efficiency. By looking closer into the nanostructured layers of silicon, the scientists realized the silicon shows important porosity with a grain-like structure in which lithium ions could travel at higher speeds compared to unstructured, amorphous silicon, explaining the increase in power. At the same time the presence of silicon channels along the Ta nanoparticle scaffolds allows the lithium ions to diffuse in the entire structure. On the other hand, the tantalum metal casing, while restraining swelling and improving structural integrity, also limited the overall capacity — for now.

However, this design is currently only at the stage of proof-of-concept, opening the door to numerous opportunities to improve capacity along with the increased power.

“It is a very open synthesis approach, there are many parameters you can play around,” commented Dr. Haro. “For example, we want to optimize the numbers of layers, their thickness, and replace tantalum metal with other materials.”

With this technique paving the way, it might very well be that the solution for future batteries, forecast to be omnipresent in our lives, will be found in nanoparticles.

Story Source:


Material provided by Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) Graduate UniversityNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Marta Haro, Vidyadhar Singh, Stephan Steinhauer, Evropi Toulkeridou, Panagiotis Grammatikopoulos, Mukhles Sowwan. Nanoscale Heterogeneity of Multilayered Si Anodes with Embedded Nanoparticle Scaffolds for Li-Ion BatteriesAdvanced Science, 2017; 1700180 DOI: 10.1002/advs.201700180

Silicon Solves Problems for next-Generation Battery Technology: University of Eastern Finland

Silicon in New LI Batts 170830114817_1_540x360

Silicon — the second most abundant element in the earth’s crust — shows great promise in Li-ion batteries, according to new research from the University of Eastern Finland. By replacing graphite anodes with silicon, it is possible to quadruple anode capacity.

In a climate-neutral society, renewable and emission-free sources of energy, such as wind and solar power, will become increasingly widespread. The supply of energy from these sources, however, is intermittent, and technological solutions are needed to safeguard the availability of energy also when it’s not sunny or windy. Furthermore, the transition to emission-free energy forms in transportation requires specific solutions for energy storage, and lithium-ion batteries are considered to have the best potential.

Researchers from the University of Eastern Finland introduced new technology to Li-ion batteries by replacing graphite used in anodes by silicon. The study analysed the suitability of electrochemically produced nanoporous silicon for Li-ion batteries. It is generally understood that in order for silicon to work in batteries, nanoparticles are required, and this brings its own challenges to the production, price and safety of the material.

However, one of the main findings of the study was that particles sized between 10 and 20 micrometres and with the right porosity were in fact the most suitable ones to be used in batteries. The discovery is significant, as micrometre-sized particles are easier and safer to process than nanoparticles. This is also important from the viewpoint of battery material recyclability, among other things. The findings were published in Scientific Reports.

“In our research, we were able to combine the best of nano- and micro-technologies: nano-level functionality combined with micro-level processability, and all this without compromising performance,” Researcher Timo Ikonen from the University of Eastern Finland says. “Small amounts of silicon are already used in Tesla’s batteries to increase their energy density, but it’s very challenging to further increase the amount,” he continues.

Next, researchers will combine silicon with small amounts of carbon nanotubes in order to further enhance the electrical conductivity and mechanical durability of the material.

“We now have a good understanding of the material properties required in large-scale use of silicon in Li-ion batteries. However, the silicon we’ve been using is too expensive for commercial use, and that’s why we are now looking into the possibility of manufacturing a similar material from agricultural waste, for example from barley husk ash,” Professor Vesa-Pekka Lehto explains.

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provided by University of Eastern FinlandNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Cummins Beats Tesla To The Punch And Introduces An All-Electric Heavy-Duty Truck

With Tesla purportedly gearing up to introduce an all-electric semi next month, diesel engine supplier Cummins took some of the automaker’s buzz away on Tuesday, revealed an all-electric prototype truck of its own.

Read More: Here’s More Reasons Why We Need Electric Trucks

Billed as a Class 7 Urban Hauler Tractor, the 18,000-pound truck was built by Roush and is geared for local deliveries, according to the Indianapolis Star. The company said it plans to begin selling a 140 kWh battery pack for bus operators and commercial truck fleets in 2019, reports Forbes.

With a claimed range of 100 miles, it certainly seems apt to handle short drives, and Cummins said it only takes an hour to charge. By the time it’s introduced in 2020, Forbes reports, the company hopes to drop that number to 20 minutes. 

A hybrid, with a diesel engine used on-board as a generator, is planned later and will offer 300 miles in range.

Cummins’ chief exec, Thomas Linebarger, told Forbes that electric technology isn’t quite ready for 18-wheelers, mostly due to the long distances they travel. Tesla’s truck will reportedly be set to handle lengthier tasks, with 200 to 300 miles on a single charge, but that remains far below the 1,000 miles a typical heavy-duty truck can handle on one tank of gas.

Cummins may have introduced a prototype truck cab to show off, but the company only intends to produce the powertrain for trucks, Forbes reports.

Super Capacitors Could Make the Tesla ‘Battery Model for an EV World’ Obsolete: Videos

Tesla’s growth has been built on its pioneering battery technology but they’re slow to charge, have limited lifetimes and are heavy. The latest research on supercapacitors does away with all of that and may mean ‘Tesla Battery Model for an EV World’ is a losing bet (Watch Videos Below)


Transportation is the largest consumer of oil and the globally, it’s the biggest source of pollution, greenhouse gases, soot and fine particulates; gasoline and diesel have fuelled global transport and been the lifeblood of the international oil majors and national oil companies.

That, however, may be changing. Oil’s power density and affordable price has made alternatives non-starters, pushed many mass transit systems to bankruptcy, and made auto, tyre, road construction, and insurance companies rich.

Fuel energy density including supercapacitors

The Tesla effect

Then came Tesla, for the first time offering a slick, high-performance car with reasonable range.

Currently too expensive for the mass market, Tesla has nevertheless challenged the internal combustion engine (ICE) industry and forced virtually all car markers to get into electric vehicles.

With a $5 billion gigafactory just completed in July 2016 near Reno, Nevada. Tesla is promising to move mainstream, offering more affordable cars with decent range. Tesla-Gigafactory-Nevada

That is all wonderful. But Tesla and all other electric and hybrid cars still suffer from lack of charging infrastructure, and even when that is in place, drivers will have to take long breaks on long drives to recharge their batteries. 
Depending on the details, 90 minutes or more are typically needed to more-or-less recharge an empty car battery, an annoying wait compared to a five-minute fillup at the corner gas station.


Tesla’s growth has been built on its pioneering battery technology but they’re slow to charge, have limited lifetimes and are heavy. The latest research on supercapacitors does away with all of that and may mean ‘Tesla Battery Model for an EV World’ is a losing bet

Battery Woes

Tesla Battery Pack 2014-08-19-19.10.42-1280Moreover, even with Tesla’s slick design, the batteries are heavy and can only be charged/discharged so many times, after which their performance drops. Trucks and heavy-duty vehicles pose even more difficult challenges if they are not recharged frequently – not always convenient or practical. Batteries, in other words, are not a perfect substitute for cheap petrol which is available nearly everywhere you go.

What would be ideal is a light, inexpensive battery that can pack large amounts of energy in a small space, can be charged more or less instantly, and discharged more or less indefinitely without loss of performance. 

That would be the holy grail of storage, not only challenging the ICEs but also making Tesla’s gigafactory virtually obsolete before it starts mass production.

Super Potential for Supercapacitors

A new generation of supercapacitors made from cheap and plentiful material – now in laboratories – is expected to become commercial in three to five years. According to UCLA Professor Richard Kaner, the company he is affiliated with, Nanotech Energy, is using graphene as the basic medium for storing energy. (Also See Video for ‘Tenka Energy’ below)

As the technology moves out of the laboratory, he expects it to initially find a role in high-value applications such as mobile phones and computers, followed by other applications such as electric vehicles.

Supercapacitors Recharge Rate

The ability to fast-charge a supercapacitor in, say, two minutes or so, will solve the range anxiety associated with current EVs. 
Imagine pulling into an electric charging station and getting more or less fully recharged in the amount of time it takes to fill up your tank with gas. Who needs clunky, noisy, polluting cars, or even Tesla batteries?

The same fast-charging supercapacitors can power mass transit buses in cities around the world. If the bus’ supercapacitor can be charged in two minutes or less, then every bus stop can be a charging station, allowing the bus to travel long distances without ever running out of juice. That would be a game changer.

Tesla, which is facing many daunting deadlines and competition from multiple directions, may find that its gigafactory is a losing bet if supercapacitors come to deliver as their proponents claim.

Now THAT … That would be yet another game changer!

From ‘The Energy Analyst’


Watch: Video Presentation of New ‘Tenka Power Max SuperCap’

Novel Bendable Batteries Powered by Cellular Fluids

This is an artistic rendering of fiber-shaped implantable batteries using biocompatible electrolytes. Credit: Guo et al.

The next generation of safer batteries could be powered by an unconventional source.

Researchers in China designed alternatives to lithium-ion batteries that are more flexible than their traditional counterparts and can run on body inspired liquids like normal IV saline solutions and cell-culture mediums.

The idea for these prototypes occurred when the researchers focused on the mechanical-stress demands of wearable electronics, like smartwatches, and the safety requirements of implantable electronics.

One challenge regarding lithium-ion batteries is that they need strong structural reinforcement to ensure hazardous chemical don’t leak out from the container. This requires an abundance of protective materials, which make them bulky and unbendable.

First, the team resolved the leakage issue by replacing the flammable liquids found in these batteries for inexpensive, environmentally conscious sodium-ion solutions like the IV solutions and cell-culture mediums. Both liquids are safe, since the IV solution is the same one used to help patients in the hospital while the cell-culture medium is infused with amino acids, sugars, vitamins, and other elements that mimic the fluid surrounding human cells.

To avoid hazards linked to possible leakage, the scientists then created two batteries.

One was a 1D fiber-shaped battery embedded with nanoparticles of electrode material encompassing a carbon nanotube backbone. The other one was a 2D “belt” shaped-battery, which the engineers adhered thin electrode films to a net of steel strands.

Experiments indicated both batteries were able to outperform most of the wearable lithium ion batteries on factors like charge holding capacity and power output. The performance held up even when the study authors folded and bent the batteries to simulate the impact of wrapping a sensor, watch, or similar device around an arm.

“We can implant these fiber-shaped electrodes into the human body to consume essential oxygen, especially for areas that are difficult for injectable drugs to reach,” said co-senior author Yonggan Wang, a chemistry professor at Fudan University and the Collaborative Innovation Center of Chemistry for Energy Materials, in a statement.

Some defects did emerge during the experiments. The carbon nanotubes that comprise the skeleton of the 1D battery can also accelerate the transformation of dissolved oxygen into hydroxide ions, which would initiate a process that hampers battery performance if left uncontrolled.

However, this process could yield therapeutic potential for cancer and bacterial infections.

“Deoxygenation might even wipe out cancerous cells or pathogenic bacteria since they are very sensitive to changes in living environment pH. Of course, this is hypothetical right now, but we hope to investigate further with biologists and medical scientists,” continued Wang.

The study was published in the journal Cell Press.

EV Batteries: A $240 Billion Industry In the Making that China is Taking the Lead

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Even those who consider themselves somewhat knowledgeable about the electric vehicle (EV) industry would be hard pressed to name more than a handful of EV battery suppliers.

Most would quickly name Japan’s Panasonic and South Korea’s Samsung and LG Chem, as well as reference the Gigafactoy that Panasonic and Tesla opened this past January in Nevada. A few of the more knowledgeable would also name BYD, a leading electric vehicle manufacturer in China that is also one of the world’s largest battery suppliers.

Other than those names, however, and perhaps one or two other lesser known players, the list would end there.


Nearly everyone would be surprised to learn that there are now more than 140 EV battery manufacturers in China, busily building capacity in order to claim a share of what will become a $240 billion global industry within the next 20 years. As in all things auto, EVs and the batteries that will power them promise to be big industries in China.

A $240 billion industry

The math is simple. Respected auto analysts like those at Bernstein, a Wall Street research and securities firm, are predicting that EVs will account for as much as 40% of global vehicle purchases in 20 years. Since almost 100 million vehicles are produced and sold globally, that means that the annual market for EVs will be 40 million, even if the total global vehicle build does not increase between now and then.

Assuming that battery prices reach parity with the $6,000 cost of an internal combustion engine, a $240 billion battery industry is now in the making. Due to its well-publicized problems combatting air pollution, China will lead the way in EVs, as well as in batteries.

Read more: Why China Is Leading The World’s Boom In Electric Vehicles

In order to meet projected demand, battery cell manufacturing capacity globally will need to increase dramatically, which is why China’s battery makers are aggressively expanding. When Tesla and Panasonic announced in 2014 their plans to build a “Gigafactory” capable of producing 35 Gigawatt hours (GWh) of battery cells every year, that was big news. (A GWh is equal to one million kilowatt hours.) After all, the entire battery capacity in the world at the time was less than 50 GWh.

A great deal has changed over the last three years, though. Led by China, battery cell manufacturing capacity has more than doubled to 125 GWh, and is projected to double again to over 250 GWh by 2020. Even that will not be nearly enough. Total cell production capacity will need to increase tenfold from 2020 to 2037, the equivalent of adding 60 new Gigafactories, during that period.


Shifting towards China

Battery technology originated in Japan; was then further developed by companies in Korea; and is now shifting strongly toward China. China’s cell production already has a larger share of global production than Japan’s, and China’s global market share is projected to rise to more than 70% by 2020.

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This photo taken on May 22, 2017 shows a car passing new electric vehicles parked in a parking lot under a viaduct in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei province. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Rapid market growth for EVs in China, as well as the tendency for Chinese auto assemblers to use homegrown products, augurs well for China’s continued leadership in battery cell manufacturing. According to Roland Berger’s E-mobility Index Q2 2017 report, locally made lithium-ion cells are used in more than 90% of the EVs produced by Chinese manufacturers.

Read more: The Electric Car Market Has A ‘Chicken Or Egg’ Problem — And China Is Solving It

With so many Chinese companies hoping to enter the battery sweepstakes, China’s government is considering policies that will set minimum production capacities for battery manufacturers as a way to further strengthen its position as a global leader. Although not yet official, Beijing would like Chinese manufacturers to have a production volume of at least 3 to 5 GWh per year. Separately, Beijing released draft guidelines at the end of 2016 stipulating that battery manufacturers would need to have at least 8 GWh of production capacity in order to qualify for subsidies. As a signal to the market, the government is planning to back the development of only those battery companies with annual production capacities of 40 GWh or more.img_0160

Who the government is championing

While Panasonic is the world’s largest supplier of electric vehicle batteries globally, Chinese companies are catching up.

Based in Shenzhen, BYD — which stands for “Build Your Dream” — is a Hong Kong listed, Chinese car company that in 2016 produced almost 500,000 cars and buses, approximately 100,000 of which were EVs or plug-in hybrids. Consistent with BYD’s strategy of vertical integration, it also has 20 GWh of battery cell capacity and is China’s largest battery maker.

In 2008, a subsidiary of Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway invested $230 million in BYD, which at the time represented a 10% stake in the company. BYD is now valued in the marketplace at $16.9 billion.

Read more: China And The U.S. Supercharge The Growing Global Electric Vehicle Industry

CATL is another leading Chinese battery company. Founded in 2011 and headquartered in Ningde, Fujian province, CATL focuses on the production of lithium-ion batteries and the development of energy storage systems. With manufacturing bases in Qinghai, Jiangsu, and Guangdong provinces, CATL has 7.7 GWh of battery capacity and plans to have battery production capacity of 50 GWh by 2020. Like BYD, CATL is the type of company that the Chinese government wants to support and promote as a national champion.

Companies to watch

Other companies to watch are Tianjin based Lishen Battery and Hangzhou’s Wanxiang Group.

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State Grid Corp. of China (SGCC) battery packs sit on display in the showroom of Wanxiang Group Corp. in Hangzhou, China in September 2016. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

Lishen has production bases in Bejing, Qingdao, Suzhou, Wuhan, Ningbo, Shenzhen and Mianyang, and plans to have 20 GWh of battery cell capacity by 2020. And Wanxiang is one of China’s largest private companies and one of the country’s leading automotive components suppliers. In 1994, Wanxiang established a U.S. company in Elgin, Illinois. Since then, Wanxiang has made over two dozen acquisitions in the United States, including A123, a battery maker that had gone into bankruptcy, in 2013, and Fisker Automotive in 2014.

The flip side to the coming Electric Revolution, of course, is that for every battery pack that is put into a vehicle, one less internal combustion engine is needed. While the growth of EVs will give rise to a large global battery industry, it will also make obsolete the substantial investments that have been made in global engine and engine component capacity.

Watch a Video on the NEW 

Tenka Power Max SuperCap Battery Pack for 18650 and 21700 Markets

Super Capacitor Assisted Silicon (and graphene) Nanowire Batteries for EV and Small Form Factor Markets. A New Class of Battery /Energy Storage Materials is being developed to support the High Energy – High Capacity – High Performance High Cycle Battery Markets.

“Ultrathin Asymmetric Porous-Nickel Graphene-Based
Supercapacitor with High Energy Density and Silicon Nanowire,”

A New Generation Battery that is:

 Energy Dense
 High Specific Power
 Simple Manfacturing Process
 Low Manufacturing Cost
 Rapid Charge/ Re-Charge
 Flexible Form Factor
 Long Warranty Life
 Non-Toxic
 Highly Scalable

Key Markets & Commercial Applications

 EV, (18650 & 21700); Drone and Marine Batteries
 Wearable Electronics and The Internet of Things
Estimated $240B Market by 2037 

U of Washington: Fast, Cheap method to make supercapacitor electrodes for EV’s and High-Powered Lasers

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Supercapacitors are an aptly named type of device that can store and deliver energy faster than conventional batteries. They are in high demand for applications including electric cars, wireless telecommunications and high-powered lasers.

But to realize these applications, supercapacitors need better electrodes, which connect the supercapacitor to the devices that depend on their energy. These electrodes need to be both quicker and cheaper to make on a large scale and also able to charge and discharge their electrical load faster. A team of engineers at the University of Washington thinks they’ve come up with a process for manufacturing supercapacitor electrode materials that will meet these stringent industrial and usage demands.
The researchers, led by UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering Peter Pauzauskie, published a paper on July 17 in the journal Nature Microsystems and Nanoengineering (“Rapid synthesis of transition metal dichalcogenide–carbon aerogel composites for supercapacitor electrodes”) describing their supercapacitor electrode and the fast, inexpensive way they made it.
Their novel method starts with carbon-rich materials that have been dried into a low-density matrix called an aerogel. This aerogel on its own can act as a crude electrode, but Pauzauskie’s team more than doubled its capacitance, which is its ability to store electric charge.
These inexpensive starting materials, coupled with a streamlined synthesis process, minimize two common barriers to industrial application: cost and speed.
“In industrial applications, time is money,” said Pauzauskie. “We can make the starting materials for these electrodes in hours, rather than weeks. And that can significantly drive down the synthesis cost for making high-performance supercapacitor electrodes.”
A coin-cell battery
Full x-ray reconstruction of a coin cell supercapacitor.
Effective supercapacitor electrodes are synthesized from carbon-rich materials that also have a high surface area. The latter requirement is critical because of the unique way supercapacitors store electric charge. While a conventional battery stores electric charges via the chemical reactions occurring within it, a supercapacitor instead stores and separates positive and negative charges directly on its surface.
“Supercapacitors can act much faster than batteries because they are not limited by the speed of the reaction or byproducts that can form,” said co-lead author Matthew Lim, a UW doctoral student in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering. “Supercapacitors can charge and discharge very quickly, which is why they’re great at delivering these ‘pulses’ of power.”
“They have great applications in settings where a battery on its own is too slow,” said fellow lead author Matthew Crane, a doctoral student in the UW Department of Chemical Engineering. “In moments where a battery is too slow to meet energy demands, a supercapacitor with a high surface area electrode could ‘kick’ in quickly and make up for the energy deficit.”
To get the high surface area for an efficient electrode, the team used aerogels. These are wet, gel-like substances that have gone through a special treatment of drying and heating to replace their liquid components with air or another gas. These methods preserve the gel’s 3-D structure, giving it a high surface area and extremely low density. It’s like removing all the water out of Jell-O with no shrinking.
“One gram of aerogel contains about as much surface area as one football field,” said Pauzauskie.
Crane made aerogels from a gel-like polymer, a material with repeating structural units, created from formaldehyde and other carbon-based molecules. This ensured that their device, like today’s supercapacitor electrodes, would consist of carbon-rich materials.
Previously, Lim demonstrated that adding graphene — which is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick — to the gel imbued the resulting aerogel with supercapacitor properties. But, Lim and Crane needed to improve the aerogel’s performance, and make the synthesis process cheaper and easier.
In Lim’s previous experiments, adding graphene hadn’t improved the aerogel’s capacitance. So they instead loaded aerogels with thin sheets of either molybdenum disulfide or tungsten disulfide. Both chemicals are used widely today in industrial lubricants.
The researchers treated both materials with high-frequency sound waves to break them up into thin sheets and incorporated them into the carbon-rich gel matrix. They could synthesize a fully-loaded wet gel in less than two hours, while other methods would take many days. After obtaining the dried, low-density aerogel, they combined it with adhesives and another carbon-rich material to create an industrial “dough,” which Lim could simply roll out to sheets just a few thousandths of an inch thick. They cut half-inch discs from the dough and assembled them into simple coin cell battery casings to test the material’s effectiveness as a supercapacitor electrode.
A coin-cell battery
Slice from x-ray computed tomography image of a supercapacitor coin cell assembled with the electrode materials. The thin layers — just below the coin cell lid — are layers of electrode materials and a separator. (Image: William Kuykendall)
Not only were their electrodes fast, simple and easy to synthesize, but they also sported a capacitance at least 127 percent greater than the carbon-rich aerogel alone.
Lim and Crane expect that aerogels loaded with even thinner sheets of molybdenum disulfide or tungsten disulfide — theirs were about 10 to 100 atoms thick — would show an even better performance. But first, they wanted to show that loaded aerogels would be faster and cheaper to synthesize, a necessary step for industrial production. The fine-tuning comes next.
The team believes that these efforts can help advance science even outside the realm of supercapacitor electrodes. Their aerogel-suspended molybdenum disulfide might remain sufficiently stable to catalyze hydrogen production. And their method to trap materials quickly in aerogels could be applied to high capacitance batteries or catalysis.
Source: By James Urton, University of Washington


Chasing the ‘Holey’ Grail of Batteries ~ Will Porous Graphene Provide the Next ‘Quantum Leap’?

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A porous form of graphene, the world’s thinnest and lightest nanomaterial, could help bring about the quantum leap in battery efficiency that’s needed to better harness renewable energy

The future, we’re told, will run on batteries. Fully electric vehicles will become the industry standard, running fast and far on a single charge. Our phone and laptop batteries will last for days and recharge in minutes. Our homes may even power themselves, storing energy from rooftop solar panels in lightweight and long-lasting battery packs.

One thing’s clear, though: If this battery-powered future is going to happen, we need a quantum leap in battery technology. Current lithium-ion batteries have hit a wall. For the past decade, researchers have been experimenting with new materials and novel designs to build batteries that are more powerful, last longer, and charge faster. energy_storage_2013 042216 _11-13-1 LARGE

This week, a team of researchers from the United States, China, and Saudi Arabia unveiled a new type of battery electrode made with “holey” graphene. In a paper published in Science, the researchers describe a porous form of graphene — the world’s thinnest and lightest nanomaterial — that overcomes some key challenges in creating next-generation batteries.

To understand how the porous graphene helps, first you need to know how today’s lithium-ion batteries work. Like all batteries, lithium-ion cells contain a positive electrode (cathode) and a negative electrode (anode) separated by a chemical medium called an electrolyte and a semi-permeable barrier called a separator.

RELATED: Fern-Like Sheets of Graphene Could Boost Solar Panel Efficiency

When the battery is charged, lithium ions flow to the anode, which is made of graphite. The lithium ions stick to the surface of the graphite and also bury themselves deep in its layers, which is how the energy is stored. When the battery goes to work powering a device, the ions flow from the anode to the cathode, passing through the separator at a steady rate. At the same time, electrons are released at the anode, flow out into the external circuit, and eventually return to the cathode.

To recap, there are two processes that make batteries work, the transport and storage of ions between electrodes, and the release of electrons into the external circuit. To build a battery that stores more energy and recharges faster, you need to optimize the flow of both ions and electrons.

That’s where nanomaterials come in.

Graphene Anodes 1 id35611Nanomaterials are named for their impossibly small dimensions, measured in nanometers (one millionth of a millimeter). A number of nanoscale materials have been explored as potential electrode materials that could promise far higher performance than today’s batteries. However, those extraordinary results have only been achieved in the lab using research devices with ultrathin electrodes, not the thicker electrodes required for real-world devices.

Graphene is a nanomaterial with some very unique properties. A single sheet of graphene is only one atom thick and consists of a 2D lattice of tightly bonded carbon atoms. Its structure makes it one of the best conductors of electricity on the planet. So if you incorporate graphene into a battery, you can greatly speed up the flow of electrons.

The problem with graphene is that while it’s terrific at moving electrons, it’s impenetrable to ions. If you tried to make an electrode purely out of graphene, the charge/discharge rate of the battery would be slowed by ions having to take detours around the broken edges of the graphene. That’s why researchers decided to punch holes straight through the graphene. Graphene Anodes 2images

Xiangfeng Duan from the UCLA, one of the authors of the Science paper, explained that the “holey” graphene is used as a conductive scaffold to speed the flow of electrons and direct the transport of ions with maximum efficiency. The graphene scaffold has a three-dimensional “hierarchical” structure with large holes feeding into smaller holes, ensuring that ions are funneled to every available nanometer of the electrode.

“It’s like a transportation network in a city,” said Duan. “You start with wide highways and then you move to narrow local roads to access every home. In the battery, the scaffold allows for the efficient transport of ions across a porous network to directly deliver charge to all of the electrode material.”

RELATED: Seaweed Could Provide a Powerful Boost to Next-Gen Batteries

In their experiments, Duan and his team placed the graphene as a conductive scaffold on niobia (Nb2O5) nanoparticles, a material known for its fast charge/discharge rate. Other labs have experimented with building electrodes solely from materials like niobia in super-thin sheets weighing almost nothing. But Duan said that the performance of the active material in such tiny amounts is canceled out by the bulkier inactive components of an electrode, like the current collectors. In other words, what works in the lab won’t cut it in real-world devices.

By loading the niobia on a graphene scaffold, Duan and his team achieved performance results that were several times greater than with a thin nanomaterial alone. Duan pointed out that the same porous scaffold design they used with niobia could be used with other active materials like silicon or tin oxide, which boast high energy density, the ability to store lots of ions for longer-lasting batteries.

It will still be a while before we see “holey” graphene batteries in real-world devices, said Duan, who calls this paper “a critical step, but just a starting point toward commercialization.” Looking ahead, he could easily see niobia-based batteries that charge up to five or 10 times faster than today’s lithium-ion cells. And batteries made with energy-dense materials like silicon could power laptops for 20 or 30 hours on a single charge, and triple the driving range of an electric vehicle.

“I think this really gives us a pathway toward using these high-performance materials in real-world devices,” Duan said.

Volvo goes ALL EV/ Hybrid by 2019 ~ Is it a BIG Deal? + Video NextGen ‘Battery Pack’ that could propel Tesla ‘S’ 2X farther at 1/2 the Cost

Still from animation - Mild hybrid, 48 volts

Original Report from IDTechEX

Volvo Cars has been in the news recently in relation to their announcement this Wednesday on their decision to leave the internal combustion engine only based automotive industry.   The Chinese-European company announced that from 2019 all their vehicles will be either pure electric or hybrid electric. In this way it has been argued the company is making a bold move towards electrification of vehicles. Volvo to capture potential market in China The company will launch a pure electric car in 2019 and that is a great move indeed, considering that the company has been owned by Chinese vehicle manufacturer Geely since 2010.

The Chinese electric vehicle market has been booming in the last years reaching a sales level of 350,000 plug-in EVs (pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric cars) in 2016. The Chinese plug-in EV market grew 300% from 2014 to 2015 but cooled down to 69% growth in 2016 vs 2015, still pushing a triple digit growth in pure electric cars. The Chinese government has announced that in 2017 sales will reach 800,000 NEV  (new energy vehicles including passenger and bus, both pure electric and hybrid electric).   IDTechEx believes that China will not make it to that level, but will definitely push the figures close to that mark.

We think that the global plug-in electric vehicle market will surpass 1 million sales per year for the first time at the end of 2017.   Until recently this market has been mostly dominated by Chinese manufacturers, being BYD the best seller of electric cars in the country with 100,000 plug-in EVs sold in 2016. Tesla polemically could not penetrate the market but in 2016 sold around 11,000 units.  

Whilst the owner of Volvo Cars, Geely, is active in China selling around 17,000 pure electric cars per year, it might be that Volvo has now realized that they can leverage on their brand in the Chinese premium market to catch the huge growth opportunity in China and need to participate as soon as possible.   More information on market forecasts can be found in IDTechEx Research’s report Electric Vehicles 2017-2037: Forecasts, Analysis and Opportunities.

Volvo 4 Sedan volvo-40-series-concepts-16-1080x720

Is Volvo Cars’ move a revolutionary one? Not really, as technically speaking the company is not entirely making a bold movement to only 100% “strong” hybrid electric and pure electric vehicles.   This is because the company will launch in 2019 a “mild” hybrid electric vehicles, this is also known in the industry as 48V hybrid electric platform. This is a stepping stone between traditional internal combustion engine companies and “strong” hybrid electric vehicles such as the Toyota Prius.

The 48V platform is being adopted by many automotive manufacturers, not only Volvo. OEMs like Continental developed this platform to provide a “bridge technology”  towards full EVs for automotive manufacturers, providing 6 to 20 kW electric assistance. By comparison, a full hybrid system typically offers 20-40-kW and a plug-in hybrid, 50-90 kW.   Volvo had already launched the first diesel plug-in hybrid in 2012 and the company will launch a new plug-in hybrid platform in 2018 in addition to the launch of the 2019 pure electric vehicle platform.   Going only pure electric and plug-in hybrid electric would be really revolutionary.   See IDTechEx Research’s report Mild Hybrid 48V Vehicles 2017-2027 for more information on 48V platforms.

Tesla Model 3hqdefaultAdditional Information: The Tesla Model ‘S’

The Tesla Model S is a full-sized all-electric five-door, luxury liftback, produced by Tesla, Inc., and introduced on 22 June 2012.[14] It scored a perfect 5.0 NHTSA automobile safety rating.[15] The EPA official rangefor the 2017 Model S 100D,[16] which is equipped with a 100 kWh(360 MJbattery pack, is 335 miles (539 km), higher than any other electric car.[17] The EPA rated the 2017 90D Model S’s energy consumption at 200.9 watt-hours per kilometer (32.33 kWh/100 mi or 20.09 kWh/100 km) for a combined fuel economy of 104 miles per gallon gasoline equivalent (2.26 L/100 km or 125 mpg‑imp).[18] In 2016, Tesla updated the design of the Model S to closely match that of the Model X. As of July 2017, the following versions are available: 75, 75D, 90D, 100D and P100D.[19]


Tesla Battery Pack 2014-08-19-19.10.42-1280


For more specific details on the updated Tesla Battery Pack go here:

Teardown of new 100 kWh Tesla battery pack reveals new cooling system and 102 kWh capacity




Volvo 3 Truck imagesA radical move would be to drop diesel engines On-road diesel vehicles produce approximately 20% of global anthropogenic emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx), which are key PM and ozone precursors.   Diesel emission pollutions has been confirmed as a major source of premature mortality. A recent study published in Nature  by the Environmental Health Analytics LLC and the International Council on Clean Transportation both based in Washington, USA found that whilst regulated NOx emission limits in leading markets have been progressively tightened, current diesel vehicles emit far more NOx under real-world operating conditions than during laboratory certification testing. The authors show that across 11 markets, representing approximately 80% of global diesel vehicle sales, nearly one-third of on-road heavy-duty diesel vehicle emissions and over half of on-road light-duty diesel vehicle emissions are in excess of certification limits.   These emissions were associated with about 38,000 premature deaths globally in 2015.

The authors conclude that more stringent standards are required in order to avoid 174,000 premature deaths globally in 2040.   Diesel cars account for over 50 percent of all new registrations in Europe, making the region by far the world’s biggest diesel market. Volvo Cars, sells 90 percent of its XC 90 off roaders in Europe with diesel engines.   “From today’s perspective, we will not develop any more new generation diesel engines,” said Volvo’s CEO Hakan Samuelsson told German’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview .   Samuelsson declared  that Volvo Cars aims to sell 1 million “electrified” cars by 2025, nevertheless he refused to be drawn on when Volvo Cars will sell its last diesel powered vehicle.

Goldman Sachs believes  a regulatory crackdown could add 300 euros ($325) per engine to diesel costs that are already some 1,300 euros above their petrol-powered equivalents, as carmakers race to bring real NOx emissions closer to their much lower test-bench scores. Scandinavia’s vision of a CO2-free economy Volvo’s decision should also be placed in a wider context regarding the transition to an environmentally sustainable economy.

Scandinavia’s paper industry has made great strides towards marketing itself as green and eco-aware in the last decades, so much so that countries like Norway have tripled the amount of standing wood in forests compared to 100 years ago. Energy supply is also an overarching theme, with each one of the four Scandinavian countries producing more than 39% of their electricity with renewables (Finland 39%, Sweden and Denmark 56%, Norway 98%). Finally, strong public incentives have made it possible for electric vehicles to become a mainstream market in Norway, where in 2016, one in four cars sold was a plug-in electric, either pure or hybrid.   It is then of no surprise that the first battery Gigafactory announcement in Europe came from a Swedish company called Northvolt (previously SGF Energy).

The Li-ion factory will open in 4 steps, with each one adding 8 GWh of production capacity. This gives a projected final output of 32 GWh, but if higher energy cathodes are developed, 40-50 GWh capacity can be envisioned. A site has not yet been identified, but the choice has been narrowed down to 6-7 locations, all of them in the Scandinavian region. The main reasons to establish a Gigafactory there boil down to the low electricity prices (hydroelectric energy), presence of relevant mining sites, and the presence of local know-how from the pulp & paper industry.   After a long search for a European champion in the EV market, it finally seems that Sweden has accepted to take the lead, and compete with giants like BYD and rising stars like Tesla. This could be the wake-up call for many other European car makers, which have been rather bearish towards EV acceptance despite many bold announcements.   To learn more about IDTechEx’s view on electric vehicles, and our projections up to 2037, please check our master report on the subject .

Top image source: Volvo Cars Learn more at the next leading event on the topic: Business and Technology Insight Forum. Korea 2017 on 19 – 21 Sep 2017 in Seoul, Korea hosted by IDTechEx.

More Information on ‘NextGen Magnum SuperCap-Battery Pack’ that could propel a Tesla Model ‘S’ 90% farther (almost double) and cost 1/2 (one-half) as much: Video


Grid Batteries Are Poised to Become Cheaper Than Natural-Gas Plants in Minnesota

A 60-acre solar farm in Camp Ripley, a National Guard base in Minnesota.

A new report suggests the economics of large-scale batteries are reaching an important inflection point.

When it comes to renewable energy, Minnesota isn’t typically a headline-grabber: in 2016 it got about 18 percent of its energy from wind, good enough to rank in the top 10 states. 
But it’s just 28th in terms of installed solar capacity, and its relatively small size means projects within its borders rarely garner the attention that giants like California and Texas routinely get.

A new report on the future of energy in the state should turn some heads (PDF). According to the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab, starting in 2019 and for the foreseeable future, the overall cost of building grid-scale storage there will be less than that of building natural-gas plants to meet future energy demand.

Minnesota currently gets about 21 percent of its energy from renewables. That’s not bad, but current plans also call for bringing an additional 1,800 megawatts of gas-fired “peaker” plants online by 2028 to meet growing demand. As the moniker suggests, these plants are meant to spin up quickly to meet daily peaks in energy demand—something renewables tend to be bad at because the wind doesn’t always blow and the sun doesn’t always shine.

Storing energy from renewables could solve that problem, but it’s traditionally been thought of as too expensive compared with other forms of energy.

The new report suggests otherwise. According to the analysis, bringing lithium-ion batteries online for grid storage would be a good way to stockpile energy for when it’s needed, and it would prove less costly than building and operating new natural-gas plants.

The finding comes at an interesting time. For one thing, the price of lithium-ion batteries continues to plummet, something that certainly has the auto industry’s attention. And grid-scale batteries, while still relatively rare, are popping up more and more these days. The Minnesota report, then, suggests that such projects may become increasingly common—and could be a powerful way to lower emissions without sending our power bills skyrocketing in the process.
(Read more: Minnesota Public Radio, “Texas and California Have Too Much Renewable Energy,” 

“The One and Only Texas Wind Boom,” “By 2040, More Than Half of All New Cars Could Be Electric”)