BIG … News from the LA Auto Show and MIT: “Rivian” unveils electric vehicles for the future – Startup founded by MIT alumnus


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One of the two models unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Rivian’s R1S, will sell for $65,000, according to the company. Courtesy of Rivian

Courtesy of MIT News

Rivian Automotive is showing off its first products at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week.

 

Electric vehicle startup Rivian Automotive has spent the first nine years of its existence in stealth mode working to design vehicles around what it believes are future trends in mobility, such as electrification, subscription-based ownership, and autonomy. This week the company is finally revealing what it’s been up to, dropping the curtains on its first two products, an all-electric pickup truck and SUV, at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

Rivian has garnered interest over the years for quietly securing some of the building blocks of mass production, including raising nearly $500 million in capital and purchasing a 2.6-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Illinois that once produced 200,000 cars a year for Mitsubishi. Now Rivian says it will begin shipping its vehicles to customers in 2020.

The abrupt transition from stealth mode to large vehicle supplier is all part of the plan for Rivian founder and CEO R.J. Scaringe SM ’07 PhD ’09. Scaringe didn’t want to hype up the company until he could show something off that customers could actually drive in a reasonable amount of time.

“It would’ve been easy to make statements early on and show sketches,” Scaringe says. “But we wanted to get all the pieces aligned: To build out a robust team with robust processes, get capital in place, line up key suppliers, acquire a large-scale production facility, and align it with our products. All that is done now. It’s been blood, sweat, and tears for a period of years to get in a position where we’re very comfortable showing our products.”

Designing a vehicle from the ground up has taken time, but the process has allowed Rivian to create some novel vehicles with intriguing performance specifications. The company describes its first two products, named the R1T and R1S, as high-end adventure vehicles that can be driven on- or off-road. MIT-Rivian 2

“They’re designed to be comfortable to use and invite you to get dirty,” Scaringe says. “When I say truck or SUV, you’re thinking inefficient and not particularly sophisticated. But we’ve used technology to make the traditional weaknesses of these vehicles strengths.”

Users purchasing trucks or SUVs have traditionally had to make compromises in areas like acceleration, control, and gas mileage in return for more space and towing capacity. Rivian uses an innovative design and powertrain to change that.

A high-tech transportation solution

Both the R1T and R1S will come with a hardware suite including cameras and sensors, which gives them self-driving capabilities on highways. The vehicles have a unique quad-motor setup that allows the electronic control unit to send 147 kilowatts of power to each wheel.

The fastest versions of the vehicles go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in three seconds and 0 to 100 miles per hour in less than seven seconds. Scaringe says the products’ ride and handling feel more like a sports sedan than a truck or SUV. He also says the vehicles can “go off-road better than any vehicle on the planet today” thanks to high ground clearance and wheel articulation that’s helped by a suspension system that adjusts to the environment, stiffening on the road and immediately loosening off the road.

Rivian’s battery configuration has been referred to as “skateboard architecture” because the battery pack stretches across the floor of the vehicle. The packs come in different sizes, the largest of which gives the vehicles over 400 miles in range. Rivian assembles its own battery packs, using proprietary cooling systems to achieve energy efficiency that Scaringe claims is better than anything on the EV market today.

Rivian-autonotive-governor-rauner-illinois-620x350“We’re doing all of the electronics, control systems, and battery packaging in-house,” Scaringe says. “And the digital architecture of the vehicle is a complete clean-sheet approach. So we’ve done the hardware design, the software design, the full stack development. It gives us complete control over how we move data around the vehicle and synchronize it with our cloud platform. We have a real-time sense of the health of all of our assets in the field.”

The high-tech platform comes inside two spacious vehicles that are designed to be stylish and functional. Both models include a 330-liter front trunk and a long compartment under the rear seats that Scaringe says is perfect for objects like surfboards, skis, and golf bags.

Rivian is listing the R1S at $65,000 and the R1T at $61,500 after federal tax rebates. The company is planning to release lower-priced cars in the future.

MIT past helps change the future

Scaringe studied mechanical engineering  for his master’s and PhD in the Sloan Automotive Laboratory, where he was a member of the automotive research team. He worked with some of the biggest car companies in the world in that role, and realized how difficult it would be for them to reorient around the big changes in transportation that he believed were coming.

Immediately after earning his PhD in 2009, in a year when General Motors and Chrysler would declare for bankruptcy, Scaringe founded Rivian. At a time when many people were wondering if America’s biggest car companies would make it another day, Scaringe set out to start a company that would lead the market decades into the future.

“In 2020, we’d love to have you use one of our vehicles. But in 2035, when you’re thinking about those trips to the beach or hiking, we want you to immediately think about using a Rivian,” Scaringe says. “The brand position we set up in 2020 lays the foundation for us.”

Scaringe knew fulfilling his vision would be difficult, but he believes his time at MIT helped him persevere in the face of the major challenges that come with starting something as complex and capital-intensive as a automotive company.

“MIT draws together some of the smartest minds in the world to study and work on deeply challenging problems,” Scaringe says. “That environment helps demonstrate that even the most challenging problems can be solved through the application of time and effort. … The foundation around solving complex and difficult problems is precisely what has enabled Rivian to this point.”

Now that Rivian’s first vehicles have been revealed, Scaringe hopes the company can move beyond thinking about these trends and start accelerating their arrival.

“It comes back to these big fundamental shifts in how we think of mobility,” Scaringe says. “The change in how we power our vehicles; how the vehicles are controlled and operated, going from human operation to machine operation; and because of those changes, the significant changes to how we think about the business model. Like how consumers purchase vehicles and how manufacturers make money, shifting away from the traditional asset sale model. We think it’s really important to line up the megatrends with our business strategy, and now it’s about making sure the strategy helps drive those megatrends.”

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A Better Battery from Biology? Osaka University Researchers Publish Promising Results


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Figure 1: Structure of the newly developed ionic crystal. The pathway in which the ions can travel is highlighted in yellow. (Image: Osaka University)

A research team at Osaka University has reported a new advance in the design of materials for use in rechargeable batteries, under high humidity conditions. Using inspiration from living cells that can block smaller particles but let larger particles pass through, the researchers were able to create a material with highly mobile potassium ions that can easily migrate in response to electric fields (Chemical Science“Mobility of hydrated alkali metal ions in metallosupramolecular ionic crystals”).

This work may help make rechargeable batteries safe and inexpensive enough to drastically reduce the cost of electric cars and portable consumer electronics.
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Link to Osaka University’s Joint Research Programs
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries are widely used in laptops, cell phones, and even electric and hybrid cars. Unfortunately, these batteries are expensive, and have even been known to burst into flames on occasion.
New materials that do not use lithium could reduce the cost and improve the safety of these batteries, and have the potential to greatly accelerate the adoption of energy-efficient electric cars. Both sodium and potassium ions are potential candidates that can be used to replace lithium, as they are cheap and in high supply.
However, sodium and potassium ions are much larger ions than lithium, so they move sluggishly through most materials. These positive ions are further slowed by the strong attractive forces to the negative charges in crystalline materials.
“Potassium ions possess low mobility in the solid state due to their large size, which is a disadvantage for constructing batteries,” explains corresponding author Takumi Konno.
To solve this problem, the researchers used the same mechanism your cells employ to allow the large potassium ions to pass through their membranes while simultaneously keeping out smaller particles. Living systems achieve this seemingly impossible feat by considering not just the ion themselves, but also the surrounding water molecules, called the “hydration layer,” that are attracted to the ion’s positive charge.
In fact, the smaller the ion, the larger and more tightly bound its associated hydration layer will be. Specialized potassium channels in cell membranes are just the right size to allow hydrated potassium ions to pass through, but block the large hydration layers of smaller ions.
The researchers developed an ionic crystal using rhodium, zinc, and oxygen atoms. Just as with the selective biological channels, the mobility of the ions in the crystal was found to be higher for the bigger potassium ions, compared with the smaller lithium ions.
In fact, the potassium ions moved so easily, the crystal was classified as a “superionic conductor.” The researchers found that the current material had the largest hydrated potassium ion mobility ever seen to date.
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Figure 2: Conductivities of lithium (Li , red), sodium (Na , green), and potassium (K , blue) ions inside the crystal at different temperatures. The conductivities increase even as the sizes of the ions increase. (Image: Osaka University)

“Remarkably, the crystal exhibited a particularly high ion conductivity due to the fast migration of hydrated potassium ions in the crystal lattice” lead author Nobuto Yoshinari says. “Such superionic conductivity of hydrated potassium ions in the solid state is unprecedented, and may lead to both safer and cheaper rechargeable batteries.”
Source: Osaka University

Scientists develop Lithium Metal batteries that charge faster, last longer with 10X times more energy by volume than Li-Ion Batteries – BIG potential for Our EV / AV Future


 

October 25, 2018

Rice University scientists are counting on films of carbon nanotubes to make high-powered, fast-charging lithium metal batteries a logical replacement for common lithium-ion batteries.

The Rice lab of chemist James Tour showed thin nanotube films effectively stop dendrites that grow naturally from unprotected lithium metal anodes in batteries. Over time, these tentacle-like dendrites can pierce the battery’s electrolyte core and reach the cathode, causing the battery to fail.

That problem has both dampened the use of lithium metal in commercial applications and encouraged researchers worldwide to solve it.

img_0837-1Rice University graduate student Gladys López-Silva holds a lithium metal anode with a film of carbon nanotubes. Once the film is attached, it becomes infiltrated by lithium ions and turns red. Photo by Jeff Fitlow

Lithium metal charges much faster and holds about 10 times more energy by volume than the lithium-ion electrodes found in just about every electronic device, including cellphones and electric cars.

 

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MIT NEWS: Read More About Lithium Metal Batteries

“One of the ways to slow dendrites in lithium-ion batteries is to limit how fast they charge,” Tour said. “People don’t like that. They want to be able to charge their batteries quickly.”

The Rice team’s answer, detailed in Advanced Materials, is simple, inexpensive and highly effective at stopping dendrite growth, Tour said.

“What we’ve done turns out to be really easy,” he said. “You just coat a lithium metal foil with a multiwalled carbon nanotube film. The lithium dopes the nanotube film, which turns from black to red, and the film in turn diffuses the lithium ions.”

“Physical contact with lithium metal reduces the nanotube film, but balances it by adding lithium ions,” said Rice postdoctoral researcher Rodrigo Salvatierra, co-lead author of the paper with graduate student Gladys López-Silva. “The ions distribute themselves throughout the nanotube film.”

img_0835An illustration shows how lithium metal anodes developed at Rice University are protected from dendrite growth by a film of carbon nanotubes. Courtesy of the Tour Group

When the battery is in use, the film discharges stored ions and the underlying lithium anode refills it, maintaining the film’s ability to stop dendrite growth.

The tangled-nanotube film effectively quenched dendrites over 580 charge/discharge cycles of a test battery with a sulfurized-carbon cathode the lab developed in previous experiments.

The researchers reported the full lithium metal cells retained 99.8 percent of their coulombic efficiency, the measure of how well electrons move within an electrochemical system.

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Rice University scientists have discovered that a film of multiwalled carbon nanotubes quenches the growth of dendrites in lithium metal-based batteries. Courtesy of the Tour Group

Co-authors of the paper are Rice alumni Almaz Jalilov of the King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Saudi Arabia; Jongwon Yoon, a senior researcher at the Korea Basic Science Institute; and Gang Wu, an instructor, and Ah-Lim Tsai, a professor of hematology, both at the McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice.

The research was supported by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Institutes of Health, the National Council of Science and Technology, Mexico; the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development, Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation and Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel, Brazil; and Celgard, LLC.

1028_DENDRITE-5-rn-18fsg2wRice University chemist James Tour, left, graduate student Gladys López-Silva and postdoctoral researcher Rodrigo Salvatierra use a film of carbon nanotubes to prevent dendrite growth in lithium metal batteries, which charge faster and hold more power than current lithium-ion batteries. Photo by Jeff Fitlow.

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Tenka Energy, Inc. Building Ultra-Thin Energy Dense SuperCaps and NexGen Nano-Enabled Pouch & Cylindrical Batteries – Energy Storage Made Small and POWERFUL!

Update EV News: Volvo buys a stake in electric charging firm FreeWire Technologies


Volvo and MOBI

Oct. 24, 2018

Volvo Cars has acquired a stake in electric car charging company FreeWire Technologies via the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, deepening the company’s commitment to a fully electric future. (See Industry Announcement Below)

While Volvo Cars’s electrification strategy does not envision direct ownership of charging or service stations, the investment in FreeWire reinforces its overall commitment to supporting a widespread transition to electric mobility together with other partners.

FWire mobisLeafsFreeWire is a San Francisco-based company that has been a pioneer in flexible fast-charging technology for electric cars. It specialises in both stationary and mobile fast charging technology, allowing electric car charging to be deployed quickly and widely. (Check Out FWT’s website – Featuring ‘MOBI’)  FreeWire Technologies – Electrification Beyond the Grid

Installing traditional fixed fast-charging stations is usually a cost- and labour intensive process that requires a lot of electrical upgrades to support the connection between charging stations and the main electrical grid. FreeWire’s charging stations remove that complication and use low-voltage power, allowing operators to simply use existing power outlets. This means drivers can enjoy all the benefits of fast charging without operators needing to go through the hassle of establishing a high-voltage connection to the grid.

Volvo Cars has one of the auto industry’s most ambitious electrification strategies. Every new Volvo car launched from 2019 will be electrified, and by 2025 the company aims for fully electric cars to make up 50 per cent of its overall global sales.

“Volvo Cars’ future is electric, as reflected by our industry-leading commitment to electrify our entire product range,” said Zaki Fasihuddin, CEO of the Volvo Cars Tech Fund. “To support wider consumer adoption of electric cars, society needs to make charging an electric car as simple as filling up your tank. Our investment in FreeWire is a firm endorsement of the company’s ambitions in this area.”

“FreeWire’s fast charging technology holds great promise to simplify the experience for customers of electrified Volvos,” said Atif Rafiq, chief digital officer at Volvo Cars. “With this move, we aim to make the future of sustainable, electric cars more practical and convenient.”

“We’re thrilled to partner with Volvo Cars to develop new markets and business models around our EV fast charging and ultra-fast charging technology,” said Arcady Sosinov, CEO of FreeWire. “Having a car maker with both the legacy and future vision of Volvo is going to give us access to technology, testing, and new strategies that will really accelerate the growth of the company.”

The Volvo Cars Tech Fund was launched earlier this year and aims to invest in high-potential technology start-ups around the globe. It focuses its investments on strategic technology trends transforming the auto industry, such as artificial intelligence, electrification, autonomous drive and digital mobility services.

Earlier this year, the Volvo Cars Tech Fund announced its first investment in Luminar Technologies, a leading start-up in the development of advanced sensor technology for use in autonomous vehicles, with whom Volvo Cars collaborates on the development and testing of its LiDAR sensing technology on Volvo cars.

Companies benefit from participation by the Volvo Cars Tech Fund as they may gain the ability to validate technologies, accelerate market introduction, as well as potentially access Volvo Cars’ global network and unique position in the Chinese car market.

 

 Volvo Car Group in 2017

For the 2017 financial year, Volvo Car Group recorded an operating profit of 14,061 MSEK (11,014 MSEK in 2016). Revenue over the period amounted to 210,912 MSEK (180,902 MSEK). For the full year 2017, global sales reached a record 571,577 cars, an increase of 7.0 per cent versus 2016. The results underline the comprehensive transformation of Volvo Cars’ finances and operations in recent years, positioning the company for its next growth phase.

About Volvo Car Group

Volvo has been in operation since 1927. Today, Volvo Cars is one of the most well-known and respected car brands in the world with sales of 571,577 cars in 2017 in about 100 countries. Volvo Cars has been under the ownership of the Zhejiang Geely Holding (Geely Holding) of China since 2010. It formed part of the Swedish Volvo Group until 1999, when the company was bought by Ford Motor Company of the US. In 2010, Volvo Cars was acquired by Geely Holding.

In 2017, Volvo Cars employed on average approximately 38,000 (30,400) full-time employees. Volvo Cars head office, product development, marketing and administration functions are mainly located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Cars head office for China is located in Shanghai. The company’s main car production plants are located in Gothenburg (Sweden), Ghent (Belgium), Chengdu, Daqing (China) and Charleston (USA), while engines are manufactured in Skövde (Sweden) and Zhangjiakou (China) and body components in Olofström (Sweden).

About Volvo Cars Tech Fund Volvo download

Volvo Cars Tech Fund is a new venture fund under the Volvo Cars umbrella, and is dedicated to advancing Volvo’s mission of ecology, safety, and technology across its vehicles. The fund was established in 2018, and is based out of Volvo Cars R&D Tech Center in Mountain View, California. Read more here.

 

 

Industry Announcement

Volvo is the latest business to take an interest in FreeWire.  Swedish luxury vehicles company Volvo Cars has bought a stake in FreeWire Technologies, a California-based electric car charging business. 

The acquisition has been made through the Volvo Cars Tech Fund, which was launched earlier this year. In an announcement Wednesday, Volvo described FreeWire as a “pioneer in flexible fast charging technology for electric cars.”Volvo becomes the latest major business to take an interest in FreeWire. In January 2018, BP Ventures announced it was investing $5 million in the business. 

From 2019, every new car that Volvo launches is set to be electrified. The business wants fully-electric cars to account for 50 percent of overall global sales by the year 2025.

“To support wider consumer adoption of electric cars, society needs to make charging an electric car as simple as filling up your tank,” Zaki Fasihuddin, the Volvo Cars Tech Fund CEO, said in a statement. “Our investment in FreeWire is a firm endorsement of the company’s ambitions in this area.”

In 2017, there were more than 3 million electric and plug-in hybrid cars on the planet’s roads, according to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Global Electric Vehicles Outlook. This represents an increase of 54 percent compared to 2016.

Almost 580,000 electric cars were sold in China last year, according to the IEA, while around 280,000 were sold in the U.S.

In terms of charging infrastructure, the IEA says that, globally, there were an estimated 3 million private chargers at homes and workplaces in 2017. The number of “publicly accessible” chargers amounted to roughly 430,000.

Will Drexel’s Discovery Enable a Lithium-Sulfur ‘Battery (R)evolution’?


Lithium-sulfur batteries could be the energy storage devices of the future, if they can get past a chemical phenomenon that reduces their endurance. Drexel researchers have reported a method for making a sulfur cathode that could preserve the batteries’ exceptional performance. (Image from Drexel News)

Drexel’s College of Engineering reports that researchers and the industry are looking at Li-S batteries to eventually replace Li-ion batteries because a new chemistry that theoretically allows more energy to be packed into a single battery.

img_0808This improved capacity, on the order of 5-10 times that of Li-ion batteries, equates to a longer run time for batteries between charges.

However, the problem is that Li-S batteries have trouble maintaining their superiority beyond just a few recharge cycles. But a solution to that problem may have been found with new research.

The new approach, reported by in a recent edition of the American Chemical Society journal Applied Materials and Interfaces, shows that it can hold polysulfides in place, maintaining the battery’s impressive stamina, while reducing the overall weight and the time required to produce them.

“We have created freestanding porous titanium monoxide nanofiber mat as a cathode host material in lithium-sulfur batteries,” said Vibha Kalra, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Engineering who led the research.

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“This is a significant development because we have found that our titanium monoxide-sulfur cathode is both highly conductive and able to bind polysulfides via strong chemical interactions, which means it can augment the battery’s specific capacity while preserving its impressive performance through hundreds of cycles.

We can also demonstrate the complete elimination of binders and current collector on the cathode side that account for 30-50 percent of the electrode weight — and our method takes just seconds to create the sulfur cathode, when the current standard can take nearly half a day.”

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Please find the full report here: LINK
TiO Phase Stabilized into Free-Standing Nanofibers as Strong Polysulfide Immobilizer in Li-S Batteries: Evidence for Lewis Acid-Base Interactions
Arvinder Singh and Vibha Kalra

ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces, Just Accepted Manuscript

DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b11029

We report the stabilization of titanium monoxide (TiO) nanoparticles in nanofibers through electrospinning and carbothermal processes and their unique bi-functionality – high conductivity and ability to bind polysulfides – in Li-S batteries. The developed 3-D TiO/CNF architecture with the inherent inter-fiber macropores of nanofiber mats provides a much higher surface area (~427 m2 g-1) and overcomes the challenges associated with the use of highly dense powdered Ti-based suboxides/monoxide materials, thereby allowing for high active sulfur loading among other benefits.

The developed TiO/CNF-S cathodes exhibit high initial discharge capacities of ~1080 mAh g-1, ~975 mAh g-1, and ~791 mAh g-1 at 0.1C, 0.2C, and 0.5C rates, respectively with long term cycling. Furthermore, free-standing TiO/CNF-S cathodes developed with rapid sulfur melt infiltration (~5 sec) eradicate the need of inactive elements viz. binders, additional current collectors (Al-foil) and additives. Using postmortem XPS and Raman analysis, this study is the first to reveal the presence of strong Lewis acid-base interaction between TiO (3d2) and Sx2- through coordinate covalent Ti-S bond formation.

Our results highlight the importance of developing Ti-suboxides/monoxide based nanofibrous conducting polar host materials for next-generation Li-S batteries.

“Reprinted with permission from (DOI: 10.1021/acsami.8b11029). Copyright (2018) American Chemical Society.”

 

 

Are Electric Vehicles at a Tipping Point? A Distinguished Panel Discussion Tackling the Tough Questions


Top EVs

Electric vehicles are set to overcome historic and significant hurdles: sticker price, range anxiety and limited model options. Annual sales are forecasted to jump from 1% today to 25% in 2030 and cross 50% by 2040.

Nearly every major car maker has announced new models for EVs. By 2020, there will be 44 models of EVs available in North America.

Watch the Video Discussion with Panelists from Daimler Benz, Chargepoint and Lucid

Please join us for a lively panel discussion with diverse electric vehicle experts as they provide their take on the future of the industry and tackle tough questions like:

  • What are the remaining technical, economic and political hurdles that will impact the mass adoption of EVs?
  • Charging infrastructure vs EVs – the chicken and the egg problem.
  • What’s the right amount and mix of charging infrastructure?
  • Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric – How important is “electric” to this futuristic concept?
  • When will EVs be cheaper to own than conventional internal combustion engine vehicles?
  • Battery costs have fallen 74% since 2010 – what other technology opportunities exist i.e. new battery chemistry, economies of scale?
  • China’s EV targets outpace Europe and the US. What are the implications for traditional automakers and Silicon Valley startups?
  • California’s latest Executive Order targets 5 million EVs on the road by 2030. How do we get there?all-ev-models-list-500

Panelists:

Sven Beiker – Moderator & Keynote Speaker, Stanford GSB

Pat Romano – CEO Chargepoint

Fred Kim – R&D Group Manager – Daimler Benz

Albert Liu – Director of Battery Technology, Lucid Motor

Presented By:

mit_logoMIT Club of Northern California

 

 

You might also enjoy watching a Presentation on ‘Mobility Disruption by Tony Seba:

Mobility Disruption | Tony Seba, Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Lecturer at Stanford University

 

Watch Our Video Presentation – Tenka Energy, Inc.

“Tenka Energy, Inc. Building Ultra-Thin Energy Dense SuperCaps and NexGen Nano-Enabled Pouch & Cylindrical Batteries – Energy Storage Made Small and POWERFUL!”

Super Capacitor Assisted Silicon Nanowire and Graphene 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 and 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 Manufacturing 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 $112B Market by 2025

Graphene Batteries – What will it Take to Get Advanced Battery Materials ‘Out of the Lab’ and into Consumer Markets?


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Graphene Batteries are widely considered a “graphene’s killer app”. Killer apps drive commercial success and are critical for moving emerging technologies out of the lab and into large scale industrial applications.  Savvy nanotech innovators and early adopters have adopted a collective mindset of “talk is cheap, now prove it works”.
Are batteries Graphene’s killer app? Our Graphene Battery User’s Guide will detail traditional battery designs, emerging battery technologies, provide actionable steps that you can take to develop a graphene battery of your own, and detail what needs to happen to get advanced graphene batteries into consumer markets.
 

We ♥ Graphene Batteries

Humans love batteries – yes it sounds strange but batteries power our phones, tablets, laptops, cameras, fitbits, autos, toys, pacemakers, and clocks. Even the biggest companies with large market shares know they must be constantly advancing their battery’s performance. Consumers want longer lasting batteries with faster charging times and we don’t want to wait.graphene-supercapacitor

As Samuel Gibbs astutely points out “The iPhone 7 is a missed opportunity. Apart from a bit of fluff retention the fit and finish, the cameras, fingerprint scanner, snappy performance and waterproofing are all great. But what does it matter how good it is when the battery is dead?” Ouch! While I’m fairly sure that Steve Jobs is still resting comfortably, Samuel is spot on in his assessment.

 

 

graphene-revolution-began-with-a-thought

The Graphene Revolution Began With A Single Idea

Did Apple engineers simply take a pass when it came to designing the battery and matching it to the device’s needs? I doubt it considering the risk to brand loyalty when selling devices between $650-$850 USD.  A much loved company like Apple spends unfathomable sums of money designing & testing new products prior to launching them. Apple is aware that when they launch a new iphone, thousands of people line up to buy them as soon as they are released, much like when we used to sleep outside on the sidewalk while waiting for the ticket window to open for our favorite rock concerts.

So what gives? Apple likely made a survey of commercially viable battery technologies and realized that a graphene battery wasn’t ready for prime time for this generation iphone.  Being an early adopter only works to your benefit if it doesn’t create product nightmares. Imagine millions of phones with defective batteries. The cost alone would be staggering and the cost to brand loyalty devastating. Apple sure doesn’t want a Samsung like battery recall on its hands.

Graphene Battery Technology

lithium-reduced-graphene-oxide-battery

 

A battery is a source of electrical energy, which is provided by one or more electrochemical cells of the battery after conversion of stored chemical energy. In today’s life, batteries play an important part as many personal, household and industrial devices use batteries as their power source. In its most basic form, a battery is a cell consisting of an anode, a cathode, with an electrolytic material in between.

There are 6 basic types of batteries.

  • Alkaline Batteries -Alkaline batteries are non-rechargeable, high energy density, batteries that have a long life span. This battery obtained its name because the electrolyte used in it is alkaline (potassium hydroxide). The chemical composition features zinc powder as an anode and manganese dioxide as the cathode with potassium hydroxide as the electrolyte.
  • Nickel Cadmium (NiCd)- mature and well understood but relatively low in energy density. The NiCd is used where long life, high discharge rate and economical price are important. Main applications are two-way radios, biomedical equipment, professional video cameras and power tools. The NiCd contains toxic metals and is environmentally unfriendly.
  • Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) – has a higher energy density compared to the NiCd at the expense of reduced cycle life. NiMH contains no toxic metals. Applications include mobile phones and laptop computers.
  • Lead Acid — most economical for larger power applications where weight is of little concern. The lead acid battery is the preferred choice for hospital equipment, wheelchairs, emergency lighting and UPS systems.
  • Lithium Ion (Li‑ion) —  fastest growing battery system. Li‑ion is used where high-energy density and lightweight is of prime importance. The technology is fragile and a protection circuit is required to assure safety. Applications include notebook computers and cellular phones.
  • Lithium Ion Polymer (Li‑ion polymer) — offers the attributes of the Li-ion in ultra-slim geometry and simplified packaging. Main applications are mobile phones.

Why won’t Li Ion Batteries just die?

Li Ion batteries already have market acceptance. Companies have invested heavily production lines. Li Ion battery’s improve performance a respectable 6-8% per year. Earlier this year, an MIT start up announced they’ve doubled the life of a Li Ion battery. Competing graphene alternatives, while promising are still likely years away from commercial acceptance.

What’s the holdup?

As we’ve recently had Samsung’s great example of an epic product battery fail, no one wants to responsible for that within their own organization, to let down their customers, and to have negative brand loyalty.  Successful nano engineering takes repeated trials to make small steps in the right direction.

It’s not as easy as “throw some graphene in it and sell it”. For an in depth review, check out our Graphene Battery User’s Guide to come up to date on research trends as well as to learn actionable steps that you can take to develop your own graphene battery with the four designs of experiments included in the guide.

References

http://www.brighthubengineering.com/power-generation-distribution/123909-types-of-batteries-and-their-applications/

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/sep/23/iphone-7-review-poor-battery-life

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-18/samsung-crisis-began-in-rush-to-capitalize-on-uninspiring-iphone

http://news.mit.edu/2016/lithium-metal-batteries-double-power-consumer-electronics-0817

 

New materials Powering the battery Revolution


More phones than people images

There are more mobile phones in the world than there are people. Nearly all of them are powered by rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, which are the single most important component enabling the portable electronics revolution of the past few decades. 

None of those devices would be attractive to users if they didn’t have enough power to last at least several hours, without being particularly heavy.

Lithium-ion batteries are also useful in larger applications, like electric vehicles and smart-grid energy storage systems. And researchers’ innovations in materials science, seeking to improve lithium-ion batteries, are paving the way for even more batteries with even better performance. There is already demand forming for high-capacity batteries that won’t catch fire or explode. And many people have dreamed of smaller, lighter batteries that charge in minutes – or even seconds – yet store enough energy to power a device for days.

New Battery Materialsfile-20181001-195256-1e68x0s

Research is finding better ways to make batteries both big and small. 

Researchers like me, though, are thinking even more adventurously. Cars and grid-storage systems would be even better if they could be discharged and recharged tens of thousands of times over many years, or even decades. Maintenance crews and customers would love batteries that could monitor themselves and send alerts if they were damaged or no longer functioning at peak performance – or even were able to fix themselves. And it can’t be too much to dream of dual-purpose batteries integrated into the structure of an item, helping to shape the form of a smartphone, car or building while also powering its functions.

All that may become possible as my research and others’ help scientists and engineers become ever more adept at controlling and handling matter at the scale of individual atoms.

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3d Illustration of twist sodium ion battery technology

Emerging materials

For the most part, advances in energy storage will rely on the continuing development of materials science, pushing the limits of performance of existing battery materials and developing entirely new battery structures and compositions.

The battery industry is already working to reduce the cost of lithium-ion batteries, including by removing expensive cobalt from their positive electrodes, called cathodes. This would also reduce the human cost of these batteries, because many mines in Congo, the world’s leading source of cobalt, use children to do difficult manual labor.

Workers at a cobalt-copper mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Kenny-Katombe Butunka/Reuters

Researchers are finding ways to replace the cobalt-containing materials with cathodes made mostly of nickel. Eventually they may be able to replace the nickel with manganese. Each of those metals is cheaper, more abundant and safer to work with than its predecessor. But they come with a trade-off, because they have chemical properties that shorten their batteries’ lifetimes.

Researchers are also looking at replacing the lithium ions that shuttle between the two electrodes with ions and electrolytes that may be cheaper and potentially safer, like those based on sodium, magnesium, zinc or aluminum.

graphene-supercapacitorMy research group looks at the possibilities of using two-dimensional materials, essentially extremely thin sheets of substances with useful electronic properties. Graphene is perhaps the best-known of these – a sheet of carbon just one atom thick. We want to see whether stacking up layers of various two-dimensional materials and then infiltrating the stack with water or other conductive liquids could be key components of batteries that recharge very quickly.

Looking inside the battery

It’s not just new materials expanding the world of battery innovation: New equipment and methods also let researchers see what’s happening inside batteries much more easily than was once possible.

In the past, researchers ran a battery through a particular charge-discharge process or number of cycles, and then removed the material from the battery and examined it after the fact. Only then could scholars learn what chemical changes had happened during the process and infer how the battery actually worked and what affected its performance.

X-rays generated by a synchotron can illuminate the inner workings of a battery. CLS Research Office/flickrCC BY-SA

But now, researchers can watch battery materials as they undergo the energy storage process, analyzing even their atomic structure and composition in real time. We can use sophisticated spectroscopy techniques, such as X-ray techniques available with a type of particle accelerator called a synchrotron – as well as electron microscopes and scanning probes – to watch ions move and physical structures change as energy is stored in and released from materials in a battery.

Those methods let researchers like me imagine new battery structures and materials, make them and see how well – or not – they work. That way, we’ll be able to keep the battery materials revolution going.

Re-Posted from  An Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, North Carolina State University

Update: The Growth of EV Charging Stations in Europe – From Cities to Motorways: Video + Tony Seba on ‘Mobility Disruption’


Fastned-EV-fast-charging-station-

The battle over how and where Europeans charge their electric cars is expanding from the cities to the motorway’s and beyond. But if electric vehicles (EVs) are ever to overtake petrol and diesel cars then charging will have to be as easy and simple as filling up. This video takes a look at the growth in electric vehicle charging stations and how the electric car market is forecasted to grow. As the electric vehicle market has grown, the need for more EV charging points has also grown.

Watch the Video Below

 

Read and Watch More: 

Mobility Disruption | Tony Seba, Silicon Valley Entrepreneur and Lecturer at Stanford University

Tony Seba, Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Author and Thought Leader, Lecturer at Stanford University, Keynote The reinvention and connection between infrastructure and mobility will fundamentally disrupt the clean transport model. It will change the way governments and consumers think about mobility, how power is delivered and consumed and the payment models for usage.

 

img_0651Have You Watched Tenka Energy’s Video on New Nano-Enabled Batteries and Super Capacitors for the EV Markets?

 

Tenka Energy, Inc. Building Ultra-Thin Energy Dense SuperCaps and NexGen Nano-Enabled Pouch & Cylindrical Batteries – Energy Storage Made Small and POWERFUL!

 

 

Energy Storage Technologies vie for Investment and Market Share – “And the Winners Are” …


One of the conveniences that makes fossil fuels hard to phase out is the relative ease of storing them, something that many of the talks at Advanced Energy Materials 2018 aimed to tackle as they laid out some of the advances in alternatives for energy storage.

Max Lu during the inaugural address at AEM 2018

“Energy is the biggest business in the world,” Max Lu, president and vice-chancellor of the University of Surrey, told attendees of Advanced Energy Materials 2018 at Surrey University earlier this month. But as

Lu, who has held numerous positions on senior academic boards and government councils, pointed out, the shear scale of the business means it takes time for one technology to replace another.

“Even if solar power were now cheaper than fossil fuel, it would be another 30 years before it replaced fossil fuel,” said Lu. And for any alternative technology to replace fossil fuels, some means of storing it is crucial.

Batteries beyond lithium ion cells

Lithium ion batteries have become ubiquitous for powering small portable devices.

But as Daniel ShuPing Lau, professor and head at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and director of the University Research Facility in Materials pointed out, lithium is rare and high-cost, prompting the search for alternatives.

He described work on sodium ion batteries, where one of the key challenges has been the MnO2 electrode commonly used, which is prone to acid attack and disproportionation redox reactions.

Lau described work by his group and colleagues to get around the electrode stability issues using environmentally friendly K-birnessite MnO2 (K0.3MnO2) nanosheets, which they can inkjet print on paper as well as steel.

Their sodium ion batteries challenge the state of the art for energy storage devices with a working voltage of 2.5 V, maximum energy and power densities of 587 W h kgcathode−1 and 75 kW kgcathode−1, respectively, and a 99.5% capacity retention for 500 cycles at 1 A g−1.

Metal air batteries are another alternative to lithium-ion batteries, and Tan Wai Kan from Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan described the potential of using a carbon paper decorated with Fe2O3 nanoparticles in a metal air battery.

They increase the surface area of the electrode with a mesh structure to improve the efficiency, while using solid electrolyte KOHZrO2 instead of a liquid helped mitigate against the stability risks of hydrogen evolution for greater reliability and efficiency.

A winning write off for pseudosupercapacitors

Other challenges aside, when it comes to stability, supercapacitors leave most batteries far behind.

Because there is no mass movement, just charge, they tend to stay stable for not just hundreds but hundreds of thousands of cycles

They are already in use in the Shanghai bus system and the emergency doors on some aircraft as Robert Slade emeritus professor of inorganic and materials chemistry at the University of Surrey pointed out.

He described work on “pseudocapacitance”, a term popularised in the 1980s and 1990s to to describe a charge storage process that is by nature faradaic – that is, charge transport through redox processes – but where aspects of the behaviour is capacitive.

MnO2 is well known to impart pseudocapacitance in alkaline solutions but Slade and his colleagues focused on MoO3.

Although MnO3 is a lousy conductor, it accepts protons in acids to form HMoO, and exploiting the additional surface area of nanostructures further helps give access to the pseudocapacitance, so that the team were able to demonstrate a charge-discharge rate of 20 A g-1 for over 10,000 cycles.

This is competitive with MnO2 alkaline systems. “So don’t write off materials that other people have written off, such as MoO3, because a bit of “chemical trickery” can make them useful,” he concluded.

Down but not out for solid oxide fuel cells

But do we gain from the proliferation of so many different alternatives to fossil fuels? According to John Zhu, professor in the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Queensland in Australia, “yes.”

For clean energy we need more than one solution,” was his response when queried on the point after his talk.

In particular he had a number of virtues to espouse with respect to solid oxide fuel cells (SOFCs), which had been the topic of his own presentation.

Besides the advantage of potential 24-7 operation, SOFCs generate the energy they store. As Zhu pointed out, “With a battery energy the source may still be dirty – so you are just moving the pollution from a high population density area to a low one.”

In contrast, an SOFC plant generates electricity directly from oxidizing a fuel, while at the same time it halves the CO2 emission of a coal-based counterpart, and achieves an efficiency of more than 60%.

If combined with hot water generation more than 80% efficiency is possible, which is double the efficiency of a conventional coal plant. All this is achieved with cheap materials as no noble metals are needed.

Too good to be true? It seemed so at one point as promising corporate ventures plummeted, one example being Ceramic Fuel Cells Ltd, which was formed in 1992 by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) and a consortium of energy and industrial companies.

After becoming ASX listed in 2004, and opening production facilities in Australia and Germany, it eventually filed voluntary bankruptcy in 2015.

So “Are SOFCs going to die?” asked Zhu.

So long as funding is the lifeline of research apparently not, with the field continuing to attract investment from the US Department of Energy – including $6million for Fuel Cell Energy Inc. Share prices for GE Global Research and Bloom Energy have also doubled in the two months since July 2018, but Zhu highlights challenges that remain.

At €25,000 to install a 2 kW system he suggests that cost is not the issue so much as durability. While an SOFC plant’s lifetime should exceed 10 years, most don’t largely due to the high operating temperatures of 800–1000 °C, which lead to thermal degradation and seal failure. Lower operating temperatures would also allow faster start up and the use of cheaper materials.

The limiting factor for reducing temperatures is the cathode material, as its resistance is too high in cooler conditions. Possible alternative cathode materials do exist and include – 3D heterostructured electrodes La3MiO4 decorated Ba0.5Sr0.3Ce0.8Fe0.3O3 (BSCF with LN shell).

Photocatalysts all wrapped up

Other routes for energy on demand have looked at water splitting and CO2 reduction.

As Lu pointed out in his opening remarks, the success of these approaches hinge on engineering better catalysts, and here Somnath Roy from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras, in India, had some progress to report.

“TiO2 is to catalysis what silicon is to microelectronics,” he told attendees of his talk during the graphene energy materials session. However the photocatalytic activity of TiO2 peaks in the UV, and there have been many efforts to shift this closer to the visible as a result.

Building on previous work with composites of graphene and TiO2 he and his colleagues developed a process to produce well separated (to allow reaction space) TiO2 nanotubes wrapped in graphene.

Although they did not notice a wavelength shift in the peak catalytic activity to the visible due to the graphene, the catalysis did improve due to the effect on hole and electron transport.

There was no shortage of ideas at AEM 2018, but as Lu told attendees,

“Ultimately uptake does not depend on the best technology but the best return on investment.”

Speaking to Physics World  he added,

“The route to market for any energy materials will require systematic assessment of the technical advantages, market demand and a number of iterations of property-performance-system optimization, and open innovation and collaboration will be the name of the game for successful translation of materials to product or processes.”

Whatever technologies do eventually stick, time is of the essence. Most estimates place the tipping point for catastrophic global warming at 2050.

Allowing 30 years for the infrastructure overhaul that could allow alternative energies to totally replace fossil fuels leaves little more than a year for those technologies to pitch “the best return on investment”.

Little wonder advanced energy materials research is teaming.

Read More: Learn About:

Tenka Energy, Inc. Building Ultra-Thin Energy Dense SuperCaps and NexGen Nano-Enabled Pouch & Cylindrical Batteries – Energy Storage Made Small and POWERFUL!

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