A Holey Graphene Electrode framework that enables highly efficient charge delivery – Making Better Batteries for the Future

Holey Graphene II grapheneThis visualisation shows layers of graphene used for membranes. Credit: University of Manchester

A team of researchers affiliated with institutions in the U.S., China and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has developed a new type of porous graphene electrode framework that is capable of highly efficient charge delivery. In their paper published in the journal Science, the group describes how they overcame traditional conflicts arising between trade-offs involving density and speed to produce an electrode capable of facilitating rapid ion transport. Hui-Ming Cheng and Feng Li with the Chinese Academy of Sciences offer a Perspective piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue, and include some opinions of their own regarding where such work is likely heading.

In a perfect world, batteries would have unlimited energy storage delivered at speeds high enough to power devices with unlimited needs. The phaser from Star Trek, for example, would require far more power and speed than is possible in today’s devices.

While it is unlikely that such technology will ever come about, it does appear possible that batteries of the future will perform much better than today, likely due to nano-structured materials—they have already shown promise when used as material due to their unique properties. Unfortunately, their use has been limited thus far due to the ultra-thin nature of the resulting electrodes and their extremely low mass loadings compared to those currently in use. In this new effort, the researchers report on a new way to create an electrode using that overcomes such limitations.

The electrode they built is porous, which in this case means that it has holes in it. Those holes, as Cheng and Li note, allow better charge transport while also offering improved capacity retention density. The graphene framework they built, they note, offers a superior means of electron transport and its porous nature allows for a high ion diffusion rate—the holes force the ions to take shortcuts, reducing diffusion.

Cheng and Li suggest the new work is likely to inspire similar designs in the search for better electrode materials, which they further suggest appears likely to lead to new electrodes that are not only practical, but have high mass loadings.

Explore further: New graphene framework bridges gap between traditional capacitors, batteries

More information: Hongtao Sun et al. Three-dimensional holey-graphene/niobia composite architectures for ultrahigh-rate energy storage, Science (2017). DOI: 10.1126/science.aam5852

Nanostructured materials have shown extraordinary promise for electrochemical energy storage but are usually limited to electrodes with rather low mass loading (~1 milligram per square centimeter) because of the increasing ion diffusion limitations in thicker electrodes.

We report the design of a three-dimensional (3D) holey-graphene/niobia (Nb2O5) composite for ultrahigh-rate energy storage at practical levels of mass loading (>10 milligrams per square centimeter). The highly interconnected graphene network in the 3D architecture provides excellent electron transport properties, and its hierarchical porous structure facilitates rapid ion transport.

By systematically tailoring the porosity in the holey graphene backbone, charge transport in the composite architecture is optimized to deliver high areal capacity and high-rate capability at high mass loading, which represents a critical step forward toward practical applications.


New battery coating could improve performance of smart phones and electric vehicles by 10X – But could still have Fire Safety Issues

High performing lithium-ion batteries are a key component of laptops, smart phones, and electric vehicles. Currently, the anodes, or negative charged side of lithium ion batteries, are generally made with graphite or other carbon-based materials.

But, the performance of carbon based materials is limited because of the weight and energy density, which is the amount of energy that can be stored in a given space. As a result, a lot of research is focused on lithium-metal anodes.

The success of lithium metal anodes will enable many battery technologies, including lithium metal and lithium air, which can potentially increase the capacity of today’s best lithium-ion batteries five to 10 times. That would mean five to 10 times more range for electric vehicles and smartphone batteries lasting five to 10 times more time. Lithium metal anodes are also lighter and less expensive.

The problem with lithium ion batteries made with metal is that during charge cycles they uncontrollably grow dendrites, which are microscopic fibers that look like tree sprouts. The dendrites degrade the performance of the battery and also present a safety issue because they can short circuit the battery and in some cases catch fire.

A team of researchers at the University of California, Riverside has made a significant advancement in solving the more than 40-year-old dendrite problem. Their findings were just published in the journal Chemistry of Materials (“In Situ Formation of Stable Interfacial Coating for High Performance Lithium Metal Anodes”).

Methyl Viologen Process

These are illustrations of the design principles of using methyl viologen to form a stable coating to allow the stable cycling of lithium metal. (Image: UC Riverside) (click on image to enlarge)

The team discovered that by coating the battery with an organic compound called methyl viologen they are able to stabilize battery performance, eliminate dendrite growth and increase the lifetime of the battery by more than three times compared to the current standard electrolyte used with lithium metal anodes.

“This has the potential to change the future,” said Chao Wang, an adjunct assistant professor of chemistry at UC Riverside who is the lead author of the paper. “It is low cost, easily manipulated and compatible with the current lithium ion battery industry.”

The researchers designed a new strategy to form a stable coating to enhance the lifetime of lithium-metal anodes. They used methyl viologen, which has been used in other applications because of its ability to change color when reduced.

The methyl viologen molecule used by the researchers can be dissolved in the electrolytes in the charged states. Once the molecules meet the lithium metal, they are immediately reduced to form a stable coating on top of the metal electrode.

By adding only .5 percent of viologen into the electrolyte, the cycling lifetime can already be enhanced by three times. In addition, methyl viologen is very low in cost and can easily be scaled up.

The stable operation of lithium metal anodes, which the researchers have achieved with the addition of methyl viologen, could enable the development of next generation high-capacity batteries, including lithium metal batteries and lithium air batteries.

Wang cautioned that while the coating improves battery performance, it isn’t a way to prevent batteries from catching fire.

Source: University of California – Riverside

MIT: The Internet of Things ~ A RoadMap to a Connected World And  … The Super-Capacitors and Batteries Needed to Power ‘The Internet of Things”

The Internet of Things: Roadmap to a Connected World ~ The Sensors ~ The Super Capacitors and Batteries Needed to Power the IoT

Provided by: MIT PE: Dr. S. Sarma

The rapidly increasing number of interconnected devices and systems today brings both benefits and concerns. In this column and a new MIT Professional Education class, the head of MIT’s open and digital learning efforts discusses how to successfully navigate the IoT.

What if every vehicle, home appliance, heating system and light switch were connected to the Internet? Today, that’s not such a stretch of the imagination.

Modern cars, for instance, already have hundreds of sensors and multiple computers connected over an internal network. And that’s just one example of the 6.4 billion connected “things” in use worldwide this year, according to research by Gartner Inc. DHL and Cisco Systems offer even higher estimates—their 2015 Trend Report sets the current number of connected devices at about 15 billion, amidst industry expectations that the tally will increase to 50 billion by 2020.

The Internet of Things (IoT)—a sophisticated network of objects embedded with electronic systems that enable them to collect and exchange data—is disrupting technology and changing the way we live. 

Fewer than two decades ago, if I’d predicted that the IoT would transform the auto-rental industry, people would have laughed. Yet here we are now in the age of Zipcar. By pioneering a range of connected technologies, the car-sharing company has unlocked greater convenience for customers and kick-started the sharing economy. Now the functionality of IoT-enabled cars is transforming the auto industry—from the ultra-connected Tesla to Google’s self-driving cars—and Uber hopes one day to chauffeur you to your destination in an autonomous vehicle.

The IoT is ultimately bound to affect almost every aspect of daily life. In fact, I encourage you to try to figure out where the IoT will not be. But how “smart” is it to let the IoT pervade everything in our lives, without active and purposeful design?

Read About: How Smart-Nano Materials will Change the World Around Us

Watch a Video Presentation About a New Energy Company Making the Super-Capacitors and Batteries that will Power the IoT


The IoT: Then and Now

About 18 years ago, as a mechanical engineering professor at MIT, I worked with my colleagues to launch the research effort that laid some of the groundwork for the IoT.

In those early days, our goals were to help implement the radio-frequency identification (RFID) systems that would become integral to connected devices, and to work on developing a standard for data from those devices. At that time, we were excited by the potential for a world of networked things.

Since then, the IoT has expanded into many corners of society and industry, but I’ve become increasingly concerned about its security implications.

How ‘smart’ is it to let the Internet of Things pervade everything in our lives, without active and purposeful design?

I will address such concerns in my new MIT Professional Education online course, Internet of Things: Roadmap to a Connected World.

While we’ll focus on the future of IoT and its business potential, we’ll also tackle its significant challenges, which range from security, privacy, and authenticity issues to the desirable features of a distributed architecture for a network of things.

The IoT’s underlying challenge is that there are no clear and agreed-upon architectures for building connected systems. Your light switch may have one level of data-security encryption, while your TV remote control has another.
Wireless protocols may differ, too: One device might use ZigBee while others rely on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. Bridges to connect across all these options will proliferate. And even if independent systems are secure, we will have to cobble them together—and the resulting chain will only be as strong as the weakest link.

Controlling the Chaos

By creating new procedures, standards, and best practices, we can bring order to the disorder the IoT generates. As the IoT grows, we should focus on three primary issues:

1. Agreement on system architecture. Today, the IoT is an abstract collection of uses and products. It’s imperative that we establish paradigms for effective implementation and use.

2. Development of open standards reflecting the best architectural choices. Standards for communication between connected things do exist. But there are simply too many standards, each serving a different purpose. The result: a series of silos. For instance, think about how the blood oxygen sensor on a patient’s finger can be affected by what’s happening with the blood pressure monitor on his or her arm. Neither device is necessarily designed to share data.

Open standards, rather than a series of private ones, are necessary to facilitate genuine inter-connectedness. But the deeper question is how and why we need to make these connections, as well as how to extract value from them. This is where cloud computing comes in. Perhaps instead of having the sensors talk to each other directly, they need to talk in the cloud. (I’ll discuss this more in our online course.)

3. Creation of a “test bed” where best practices can be designed and perfected. While the first two needs are best handled by industry, the test bed platform is best created by the government. Remember that the current Internet would not have existed without the early leadership of the U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency (now called the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.) Today, the government could create a similar agency to incubate academic institutions, labs, and companies testing and working on best practices for the IoT.

A ‘Smarter’ Future  
No question about it: The IoT will influence everything from robots and retail to buildings and banking. To leverage the power of the IoT responsibly and profitably, you need to develop and implement your own IoT technologies, solutions, and applications.

Dr. Sanjay Sarma: MIT Professional Education Course: Internet of Things: Roadmap to a Connected World. This six-week course is designed to help you better understand the IoT—and, ultimately, harness its power. 

Nanotechnology to “Super-Size” Green Energy


Nanotechnology is a field that’s receiving a lot of attention at the moment as scientists learn more every day about the benefits it can bring to both the environment and our health. There are various ways in which nanotechnology has proved itself useful including in developing enhanced solar cells and more efficient rechargeable batteries, and in saving raw materials and energy.


When it comes to nanotechnology, even the smallest achievements make huge differences, and on November 23, 2016, future technologies were presented to the international congress as part of the “Next Generation Solar Energy Meets Nanotechnology.” Out of the ten projects, three of them were located in Wurzburg and are explained in a little more detail below:

  • Eco-friendly inks for organic solar cells: Over at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Professors Vladimir Dyakonov and Christoph Brabec have created eco-friendly photovoltaic inks using nanomaterials and have developed a new simulation process at the same time. Dyakonov explains, “They allow us to predict which combinations of solvents and materials are suitable for the eco-friendly production of organic solar cells.”
  • Nanodiamonds for ultra-fast electrical storage: If we want to have powerful, yet highly efficient electric vehicles then we need some way of storing the energy as a standard battery couldn’t handle it. Supercapacitors are great regarding acting as an efficient energy storage system. But, because their energy density is so low they need to be quite large in order to deliver any reasonable amount of energy. However, further work is being done in this area currently, and progress is promising.  Professor Anke Kruger, head of the project, says “Based on these findings, it is now possible to build application-oriented energy stores and test their applicability.”


  • Increased storage capacity of hybrid capacitors: Better energy storage systems were also the focus of Professor Gerhard Sextl and his team’s project. Their hybrid capacitors can store more energy due to the embedded lithium ions and can do it quickly through the use of a supercapacitor. Sextl says, “We have managed to develop a material that combines the advantages of both systems. This has brought us one step closer to implementing a new, fast and reliable storage concept.”

Read More:

Read the rest of the story (click here) NEW SUPER-BATTERIES ARE FINALLY HERE

Czech Battery NanotechnologyCompany HE3DA President Jan Prochazka shows qualities of a new battery during the official start of a battery production line in Prague, on Monday, Dec. 19, 2016. The new battery is based on nanotechnology and is supposed to be be more efficient, long-lasting, cheaper, lighter and above all safer. The battery is designed to store energy from renewable electric sources and cooperate with smart grids. Next planned type will be suitable for electric cars. (Michal Kamaryt /CTK via AP)

It’s been a long time coming, but the wait is now over for a battery that lasts longer than your milk. Having to replace batteries in games, remotes, and other electrical devices are annoying, especially when you seem to be doing it every month. But, that may all be a thing of the past thanks to the Prague-based company, HE3DA. New superbatteries have finally been created that are capable of charging faster and lasting longer than any other technology out there and are being mass produced as you read this.


Michigan Tech: A Bright future for energy devices

sodium-161220175546_1_540x360A scanning electron microscope image of sodium-embedded carbon reveals the nanowall structure and pores of the material. Credit: Yun Hang Hu, Michigan Tech

A little sodium goes a long way. At least that’s the case in carbon-based energy technology. Specifically, embedding sodium in carbon materials can tremendously improve electrodes.

A research team led by Yun Hang Hu, the Charles and Carroll McArthur Professor of materials science and engineering at Michigan Tech, created a brand-new way to synthesize sodium-embedded carbon nanowalls. Previously, the material was only theoretical and the journal Nano Letters recently published this invention.

High electrical conductivity and large accessible surface area, which are required for ideal electrode materials in energy devices, are opposed to each other in current materials. Amorphous carbon has low conductivity but large surface area. Graphite, on the other hand, has high conductivity but low surface area. Three-dimensional graphene has the best of both properties — and the sodium-embedded carbon invented by Hu at Michigan Tech is even better.

“Sodium-embedded carbon’s conductivity is two orders of magnitude larger than three-dimensional graphene,” Hu says. “The nanowall structure, with all its channels and pores, also has a large accessible surface area comparable to graphene.”

This is different from metal-doped carbon where metals are simply on the surface of carbon and are easily oxidized; embedding a metal in the actual carbon structure helps protect it. To make such a dream material, Hu and his team had to create a new process. They used a temperature-controlled reaction between sodium metal and carbon monoxide to create a black carbon powder that trapped sodium atoms. Furthermore, in collaboration with researchers at University of Michigan and University of Texas at Austin, they demonstrated that the sodium was embedded inside the carbon instead of adhered on the surface of the carbon. The team then tested the material in several energy devices.

In the dye-sensitized solar cell world, every tenth of a percent counts in making devices more efficient and commercially viable. In the study, the platinum-based solar cell reached a power conversion efficiency of 7.89 percent, which is considered standard. In comparison, the solar cell using Hu’s sodium-embedded carbon reached efficiencies of 11.03 percent.

Super-Capacitors can accept and deliver charges much faster than rechargeable batteries and are ideal for cars, trains, elevators and other heavy-duty equipment. The power of their electrical punch is measured in farads (F); the material’s density, in grams (g), also matters.

Activated carbon is commonly used for supercapacitors; it packs a 71 F g-1 punch. Three-dimensional graphene has more power with a 112 F g-1 measurement. Sodium-embedded carbon knocks them both out of the ring with a 145 F g-1 measurement. Plus, after 5,000 charge/discharge cycles, the material retains a 96.4 percent capacity, which indicates electrode stability.

Hu says innovation in energy devices is in great demand. He sees a bright future for sodium-embedded carbon and the improvements it offers in solar tech, batteries, fuel cells, and supercapacitors.

Story Source:

Materials provided by Michigan Technological University. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Wei Wei, Liang Chang, Kai Sun, Alexander J. Pak, Eunsu Paek, Gyeong S. Hwang, Yun Hang Hu. The Bright Future for Electrode Materials of Energy Devices: Highly Conductive Porous Na-Embedded Carbon. Nano Letters, 2016; 16 (12): 8029 DOI: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.6b04742

University of Central Florida: New ‘Super Nano-Wire Batteries’ that Charge in Seconds and Last for a Week!

Friday 9 December 2016

Leaving your phone plugged in for hours could become a thing of the past, thanks to a new type of battery technology that charges in seconds and lasts for over a week.

Scientists from the University of Central Florida (UCF) have created a supercapacitor battery prototype that can store a whole lot of energy very, very quickly.

While it probably won’t be commercially available for a years, the researchers said it has the potential to be used in phones, wearables and electric vehicles.

“If they were to replace the batteries with these supercapacitors, you could charge your mobile phone in a few seconds and you wouldn’t need to charge it again for over a week,” said Nitin Choudhary, a UCF postdoctoral associate, who conducted much of the research, published in the academic journal ACS Nano.
    Image: UCF

How does it work?

Unlike conventional batteries, supercapacitors store electricity statically on their surface which means they can charge and deliver energy rapidly. 

But supercapacitors have a major shortcoming: they need large surface areas in order to hold lots of energy.

To overcome the problem, the researchers developed supercapacitors built with millions of nano-wires and shells made from two-dimensional materials only a few atoms thick, which allows for super-fast charging. Their prototype is only about the size of a fingernail.

“For small electronic devices, our materials are surpassing the conventional ones worldwide in terms of energy density, power density and cyclic stability,” Choudhary said.

Cyclic stability refers to how many times a battery can be charged, drained and recharged before it starts to degrade. For lithium-ion batteries, this is typically fewer than 1,500 times. Supercapacitors with two-dimensional materials can be recharged a few thousand times. 

But the researchers say their prototype still works like new even after being recharged 30,000 times.

Those that use the new materials could be used in phones, tablets and other electronic devices, as well as electric vehicles. And because they’re flexible, it could mean a significant development for wearables.

New applications for Ultra(super)Capacitors ~ Startup’s energy-storage devices find uses in drilling operations, aerospace applications, electric vehicles.


FastCAP Systems’ ultracapacitors (pictured) can withstand extreme temperatures and harsh environments, opening up new uses for the devices across a wide range of industries, including oil and gas, aerospace and defense, and electric vehicles. Courtesy of FastCAP Systems

Devices called ultra-capacitors have recently become attractive forms of energy storage: They recharge in seconds, have very long lifespans, work with close to 100 percent efficiency, and are much lighter and less volatile than batteries. But they suffer from low energy-storage capacity and other drawbacks, meaning they mostly serve as backup power sources for things like electric cars, renewable energy technologies, and consumer devices.

But MIT spinout FastCAP Systems is developing ultracapacitors, and ultracapacitor-based systems, that offer greater energy density and other advancements. This technology has opened up new uses for the devices across a wide range of industries, including some that operate in extreme environments.

Based on MIT research, FastCAP’s ultra-capacitors store up to 10 times the energy and achieve 10 times the power density of commercial counterparts. They’re also the only commercial ultra-capacitors capable of withstanding temperatures reaching as high as 300 degrees Celsius and as low as minus 110 C, allowing them to endure conditions found in drilling wells and outer space. Most recently, the company developed a AA-battery-sized ultra-capacitor with the perks of its bigger models, so clients can put the devices in places where ultra-capacitors couldn’t fit before.

Founded in 2008, FastCAP has already taken its technology to the oil and gas industry, and now has its sights set on aerospace and defense and, ultimately, electric, hybrid, and even fuel-cell vehicles. “In our long-term product market, we hope that we can make an impact on transportation, for increased energy efficiency,” says co-founder John Cooley PhD ’11, who is now president and chief technology officer of FastCAP.

FastCAP’s co-founders and technology co-inventors are MIT alumnus Riccardo Signorelli PhD ’09 and Joel Schindall, the Bernard Gordon Professor of the Practice in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

A “hairbrush” of carbon nanotubes

Ultracapacitors use electric fields to move ions to and from the surfaces of positive and negative electrode plates, which are usually coated with a porous material called activated carbon. Ions cling to the electrodes and let go quickly, allowing for quick cycling, but the small surface area limits the number of ions that cling, restricting energy storage. Traditional ultracapacitors can, for instance, hold about 5 percent of the energy that lithium ion batteries of the same size can.

In the late 2000s, the FastCAP founding team had a breakthrough: They discovered that a tightly packed array of carbon nanotubes vertically aligned on the electrode provided much more surface area. The array was also uniform, whereas the porous material was irregular and difficult for ions to move in and out of. “A way to look at it is the industry standard looks like a nanoscopic sponge, and the vertically aligned nanotube arrays look like a nanoscopic hairbrush” that provides the ions more efficient access to the electrode surface, Cooley says.

With funding from the Ford-MIT Alliance and MIT Energy Initiative, the researchers built a fingernail-sized prototype that stored twice the energy and delivered seven to 15 times more power than traditional ultracapacitors.

In 2008, the three researchers launched FastCAP, and Cooley and Signorelli brought the business idea to Course 15.366 (Energy Ventures), where they designed a three-step approach to a market. The idea was to first focus on building a product for an early market: oil and gas. Once they gained momentum, they’d focus on two additional markets, which turned out to be aerospace and defense, and then automotive and stationary storage, such as server farms and grids. “One of the paradigms of Energy Ventures was that steppingstone approach that helped the company succeed,” Cooley says.

FastCAP then earned a finalist spot in the 2009 MIT Clean Energy Prize (CEP), which came with some additional perks. “The value there was in the diligence effort we did on the business plan, and in the marketing effect that it had on the company,” Cooley says.

Based on their CEP business plan, that year FastCAP won a $5 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy grant to design ultracapacitors for its target markets in automotive and stationary storage. FastCAP also earned a 2012 DOE Geothermal Technologies Program grant to develop very high-temperature energy storage for geothermal well drilling, where temperatures far exceed what available energy-storage devices can tolerate. Still under development, these ultracapacitors have proven to perform from minus 5 C to over 250 C.

From underground to outer space

Over the years, FastCAP made several innovations that have helped the ultracapacitors survive in the harsh conditions. In 2012, FastCAP designed its first-generation product, for the oil and gas market: a high-temperature ultracapacitor that could withstand temperatures of 150 C and posed no risk of explosion when crushed or damaged. “That was an interesting market for us, because it’s a very harsh environment with [tough] engineering challenges, but it was a high-margin, low-volume first-entry market,” Cooley says. “We learned a lot there.”

In 2014, FastCAP deployed its first commercial product. The Ulysses Power System is an ultracapacitor-powered telemetry device, a long antenna-like system that communicates with drilling equipment. This replaces the battery-powered systems that are volatile and less efficient. It also amplifies the device’s signal strength by 10 times, meaning it can be sent thousands of feet underground and through subsurface formations that were never thought penetrable in this way before.

After a few more years of research and development, the company is now ready to break into aerospace and defense. In 2015, FastCAP completed two grant programs with NASA to design ultracapacitors for deep space missions (involving very low temperatures) and for Venus missions (involving very high temperatures).

In May 2016, FastCAP continued its relationship with NASA to design an ultracapacitor-powered module for components on planetary balloons, which float to the edge of Earth’s atmosphere to observe comets. The company is also developing an ultracapacitor-based energy-storage system to increase the performance of the miniature satellites known as CubeSats. There are other aerospace applications too, Cooley says: “There are actuators systems for stage separation devices in launch vehicles, and other things in satellites and spacecraft systems, where onboard systems require high power and the usual power source can’t handle that.”

A longtime goal has been to bring ultracapacitors to electric and hybrid vehicles, providing high-power capabilities for stop-start and engine starting, torque assist, and longer battery life. In March, FastCAP penned a deal with electric-vehicle manufacturer Mullen Technologies. The idea is to use the ultracapacitors to augment the batteries in the drivetrain, drastically improving the range and performance of the vehicles. Based on their wide temperature capabilities, FastCAP’s ultracapacitors could be placed under the hood, or in various places in the vehicle’s frame, where they were never located before and could last longer than traditional ultracapacitors.

The devices could also be an enabling component in fuel-cell vehicles, which convert chemical energy from hydrogen gas into electricity that is then stored in a battery. These zero-emissions vehicles have difficulty handling surges of power — and that’s where FastCAP’s ultracapacitors can come in, Cooley says.

“The ultra-capacitors can sort of take ownership of the power and variations of power demanded by the load that the fuel cell is not good at handling,” Cooley says. “People can get the range they want for a fuel-cell vehicle that they’re anxious about with battery-powered electric vehicles. So there are a lot of good things we are enabling by providing the right ultra-capacitor technology to the right application.”

MIT: Batteries power clean energy transformation: Focus on Electro-Chemical Energy Storage


” … (opportunity for) grid-level battery storage technologies for solar and wind electric generators and affordable electric cars available now could meet 87 percent of Americans’ daily driving needs.”

Batteries, it seems, are everywhere these days, yet important questions remain about what kind of energy storage technologies are needed to help the U.S. meet its commitments to cut greenhouse gases and which areas of research are most likely to pay dividends by improving existing batteries or creating entirely new battery technologies.

After exploring these questions for the past five years, Jessika Trancik, Associate Professor of Energy Studies with MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, has found some answers that she will share at “Materials for Electrochemical Energy Storage,” the Materials Processing Center’s Materials Day Symposium on Tuesday, Oct. 18. The symposium will be held in MIT’s Kresge Auditorium, followed by a student poster session in La Sala de Puerto Rico, Stratton Student Center.

“This year’s Materials Day workshop will focus on advancing materials technologies for electrochemical energy storage, as well as on new systems-level approaches to cost-effective integration of these devices in both large and small-scale power grids,” says Materials Processing Center Director Carl V. Thompson, who is the Stavros Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at MIT.

Dynamic models

Trancik developed dynamic models of battery technology and consumer demand in two areas with potential for large impact: electric cars and energy storage at solar and wind farms. Her key findings, published in Nature Climate Change and Nature Energy this past summer, are that:

• there is a window of opportunity for adoption of grid-level battery storage technologies for solar and wind electric generators at particular sites; and

affordable electric cars available now could meet 87 percent of Americans’ daily driving needs with charging just once a day, for example, overnight. (article continued below)


Also Read: THE TENKA ENERGY STORY  (Quote) … “Tenka Energy will develop and commercialize the Next Generation of Super-Capacitors and Batteries, providing the High-Energy-Density, in Flexible-Thin-Form with Rapid Charge/ Recharge Cycles with  Extended Life that is required and in high demand from a“power starved world”. The opportunity is based on a Nanoporous-Nickel Flexible Thin-form technology that is  easily scaled, from Rice University.”


(continued) “In some locations, for example, some stationary storage technologies available today add profit to solar and wind, and that’s taking into account the lifetime of the project and so forth,” Trancik explains. “In the next few years, there is an opportunity to do that at low cost with relatively little subsidy needed.” However, as solar and wind prices continue to fall, storage technologies will also need to become cheaper if they are to continue to add value.

jessika_trancik_mitJessika Trancik, associate professor of energy studies at MIT, will present at the annual Materials Day Symposium.    

Trancik, whose input was solicited by the White House ahead of the 2015 climate change negotiations, notes that commitments to the Paris Agreement, if met, will likely lead to significant growth in intermittent solar and wind installations. She says the next 15 years are critical for storage technology development. “By 2030, we really need to have developed affordable and well-functioning storage technologies in order to continue to support the growth of solar and wind worldwide,” she adds.

Similarly, with battery-based vehicles, such as the currently available Nissan Leaf, the outlook for converting a large portion of cars on the road from gasoline to electric looks promising. But, Trancik cautions, since electric vehicles have a shorter travel potential on a full charge than a gasoline car has on a full tank, a solution is needed for the 13 percent of cars on the road whose daily driving range would not be met. “There are a certain number of days during which the average driver will exceed that range. … People buy and own vehicles to get them where they want to go on all days, not just 87 percent of days,” Trancik says. Some type of convenient, on-demand car sharing or other ways to meet these needs are critical, she suggests.

This year’s Materials Processing Center symposium speakers are:

• Kevin Eberman, product development manager at 3M;

• Jessika Trancik, associate professor of energy studies within the Institute for Data, Systems and Society at MIT;

• Boris Kozinsky, principal scientist at Bosch Research;

• Yang Shao-Horn, professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and engineering at MIT;

• Glen D. Merfeld, product science leader at GE Global Research;

• Yet-Ming Chiang, professor of materials science and dngineering at MIT; and

• Martin Z. Bazant, professor of chemical engineering and applied mathematics at MIT.

Bazant, who is executive officer of chemical engineering as well as professor of mathematics, will present his recent work on lithium-ion, lithium-air, and lithium-metal batteries. Recent findings in Bazant’s group uncovered two different ways that lithium deposits grow on the surface of lithium metal electrodes and showed how to effectively control destructive lithium filament growth at lower power levels.

“Energy storage devices are increasingly playing key roles in reducing carbon emissions through use in hybrid and all-electric vehicles, and they will have a key role in efficient use of both conventional sources of electrical power and power from clean intermittent sources such as solar and wind energy,” Thompson says. “These technology drivers have led to rapid advances in development of new materials and device concepts for electrochemical energy storage using batteries. This includes not just lithium-ion batteries, but also other metal-ion batteries, metal-air batteries and flow batteries.”

Defining “Nanotechnology” And … A New Energy Storage Company Comes of Age – Tenka Energy, LLC – Developing the Next Generation of Super Capacitors and Batteries


“A New Energy Storage Company Comes of Age.” 


         Read the ‘Tenka Story’ and Watch the Video after our story on:

Defining Nanotechnology


Can you define nanotechnology? Although the term has circulated since the 1980s, there are still several misconceptions about the field and what it entails.


Perhaps that’s because how we define nanotechnology has evolved over the years and there’s still no widespread agreement.


In fact, the inaugural issue of Nature Nanotechnology, published in 2006, includeda feature in which numerous researchers attempted to map the subject’s parameters. One participant even predicted that the term would fall out of use within the decade!

But here we are, ten years later—and the term remains very much in play. As for the question of how to define nanotechnology? That’s still up for debate too.


A Standard Definition

Researchers can agree on some things: nanotechnology involves structures, devices or materials that are both manmade and very, very small. (“Great Things from Small Things”) But that’s where the consensus ends.

Most experts consider ‘very, very small’ to in this case refer to materials shorter than 100 nanometers (nm) in length. For context, a single strand of human hair is 80,000 nm wide.

Some scientists, however, find such a hard and fast definition unhelpful. They argue that a strict one to 100 nm range excludes several materials, particularly pharmaceutical ones, that rightfully fall within the nanotechnology realm. These materials still have special properties that result specifically from their nanoscale—such as increased magnetism or conductivity.

In fact, that’s the key to defining nanotechnology. Matter takes on different properties at nanoscale than it does in its other forms or sizes—and that allows researchers to manipulate or engineer it in unprecedented ways.

When it comes to a working definition, the American National Nanotechnology Initiative says it best. According to their website,“Nanotechnology is the understanding and control of matter at the nanoscale, at dimensions betweenapproximately 1 and 100 nanometers, where unique phenomena enable novel applications.”


A Big Impact for Life Science

But thinking in nanometers doesn’t necessarily mean thinking small. Despite the scale of the materials, nanotechnology can and does have a big impact—particularly when it comes to its applications in life scienceNano Body II 43a262816377a448922f9811e069be13

Perhaps that’s why companies like Merck (NYSE:MRK) continue to invest in nanotechnology. Emend, Merck’s anti-nausea drug for chemotherapy patients, is formulated as NanoCrystal drug particles.

Meanwhile, Pfizer (NYSE:PFE) recently bought the assets of Bind Therapeutics, a nanotech drug company. The Wall Street Journal reportedthat Pfizer will continue Bind Therapeutics’ work developing nanoparticle oncology drugs.

Nanotechnology has applications beyond pharmaceuticals, too. Several medical devices, including burn dressings, surgical mesh and a laparoscopic vessel fusion system all use nanotechnology. And over in the biotech space, it can even be used to engineer tissue.


Future Applications

Nanotechnology has more life science applications on the horizon. Nanorobots might one day detect the presence of cancerous cells, or seek out bacteria in the bloodstream. Nanoparticles could be used in drug delivery, targeting treatments to affected cells.

It may sound like the stuff of science fiction, but nanotechnology is making such developments possible. Indeed, its applications in healthcare are a major reason why the nanotechnology market is growing. A reportfrom Global Industry Analysts projects the global nanotech market to reach US$7.8 billion by 2020—just four short years from now.

With that timeline in mind, life science investors may consider investigating nanotechnology now. After all, such securities are usually a long term investment—and for the patient, savvy investor, the potential pay-offs could be huge.



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