Yet Another New Battery Technology

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Steve S, Mar 16, 2015.

  1. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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  2. Mesosphere

    Mesosphere Geek. Senior Member

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    I wonder what they even mean by "doubling capacity". As it is, batteries of any tech can be made arbitrarily large. Do they mean double the Whrs per pound, per cubic inch, or perhaps something else entirely? Battery technology is an area in need of advancement, but the vagueness leaves me suspicious.
     
  3. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    The nice thing about battery tech is that there is no obvious competing industry which might try to suppress development. Everybody wants better batteries, and nobody loses as they improve, which is probably why we're seeing such rapid advancement. Nickel-Cadmium wasn't that long ago...

    Unless you count Tesla motors, which could arguably start affecting big oil. -But that seems more than a little far-fetched. Depends on how paranoid the fossil fuel barons are feeling, I suppose. -And even then, we'd probably see Tesla attacked rather than the battery industry.

    It's interesting that there has already been effort expended to restrict Tesla's growth, (not to mention the horrid bile expended to suppress solar technology), but you never hear about that kind of childish BS when it comes to battery tech. Even psychopaths want their phones to last all day.
     
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  4. bloodycape

    bloodycape Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    GM in the early 2000s did sell some of their battery tech to the oil company. But, yes even oil barons want a phone they can use all day without worrying about charging it.
     
  5. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...I wonder what they even mean by "doubling capacity"...>>

    ...I'm sure that they mean energy density, like Whrs per liter.

    <<...The nice thing about battery tech is that there is no obvious competing industry which might try to suppress development...>>

    ...That's an interesting comment. However, I would argue that we are not seeing rapid advancement. A few years ago, Popular Science (the world's best magazine) cited battery technology as one of a handful of technical areas that wasn't advancing rapidly enough (they claimed improvements that amounted to less than 5% per annum, over a span of many years). Even worse, PS's (TWBM) forecast was that there were no really promising avenues for improvement in the immediate future, making the prospects for better batteries bleak.

    In retrospect, it would appear the PS (TWBM) was largely correct; although new battery technology gets announced every now and again, most of it seems to die in gestation. Examples like A123 and EEStor are sadly the norm, not the exception.

    And not to pick on Green Energy, but it hasn't been much better lately; remember Solyndra? And where will all the high-flux permanent magnets needed for wind generators come from? And what will happen to regional weather patterns if we harvest a significant amount of energy from wind? Did you know that the wind has an effect on the speed of the Earth's rotation? It's true! (Sorry; nothing personal, I just got off on a tangent, there...! Rant off!)
     
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  6. Mesosphere

    Mesosphere Geek. Senior Member

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    Yea, I assume something like that is the case, but is it per volume like you suggest or per mass. If it is per volume it would maybe matter for electric cars, but matter much less for tablets and such. If it is per mass that could greatly lighten the load of tablets. About 50% of the mass of the SP3 is battery. On the other hand if it is by mass and it comes with an increase in volume per Whr, the size could become a problem. When they don't specify exactly what they mean, it is difficult to gauge the advantage.
     
  7. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...is it per volume like you suggest or per mass...>>

    Strangely, in the discussions that I've been a party to, it's volume: Whrs per liter (maybe because batteries originally all had liquid electrolytics...???)

    However, I think you're overthinking this. The measure is typically used as a reference measure of the specific chemistry (battery) or storage capacity (caps / super caps) in the same way that you might characterize copper as 560 lb / ft^3. Of course, any practical application of a battery chemistry can be rated in Whrs, but the energetic volume or mass of that battery will be diluted by the insulation / packaging and other necessary components such as temperature sensors or even control electronics.
     
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2015
  8. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Of course.., now that I think of it some more, the whole computer/cell phone industry benefits mightily from the relatively short life-span of present battery technology; it helps drive new hardware sales, especially with "mask-off,-we-really-are-trying-to-screw-you" non-replaceable batteries.

    Also.., there's always going to be the super-secret military versus the public technology spheres which don't much overlap.

    I suspect that there are technologies for storing energy which are just whiz-bang awesome, (I heard whispers many years ago now that photonic capacitors were a real thing, and were old news even back then.)

    The problem is that some such technologies, aside from shifting the power paradigms in the world, might also suggest physical realities in the, "If A = B then C must = holy smokes, we can control gravity!" sort of way. There may well be people out there invested in preventing that sort of thing from upsetting the status quo too much.

    So public sphere industry is left with whatever leftover solutions are benign enough to work but still not upset things too much. I guess there's only so much you can do with chemical batteries.

    I sometimes wonder about super-capacitors and what could be done with them in terms of laptops. They don't wear out the way batteries do.
     
  9. Steve S

    Steve S Pen Pro - Senior Member Super Moderator

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    <<...there's always going to be the super-secret military versus the public technology spheres which don't much overlap...>>

    ...There are no super-secret military batteries. Ironically, when the military wants better batteries, they typically find them in commercial products! The batteries in electric RC airplanes represent some of the highest state of the art, and it's driven by the all-mighty consumer dollar, which the military can't begin to match! The batteries used to jump-start cars are another class of high-performing battery.

    <<...I sometimes wonder about super-capacitors and what could be done with them...>>

    ...Super caps can be good in some applications, and will continue to progress. But at the micro level, there are some effects that limit how much charge modern devices can hold and how far the technology can be pushed. Storing charge brings with it an electric field. As the stored charge increases, so does the electric field. At some point, the field becomes so intense (the critical field strength) that it overcomes the insulator and the charge flashes over (short circuits). Finding good insulation material is hard!

    Stored charges also generate physical forces (think repulsion between two areas of charge). High density charges can create impressive levels of physical force. Mechanical designs to react these loads can take up significant amounts of volume inside the super cap (and again, dilute the ultimate amount of stored charge).

    All of this is not to say that the Surface Pro 156 won't be super cap powered; it's to say that it's a difficult design problem to make into a safe and reliable consumer product...!
     
  10. thatcomicsguy

    thatcomicsguy Scribbler - Standard Member Senior Member

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    Well.., I'm rather more cynical in this regard.

    The advanced military as described by the likes of Popular Science is going to be a non-super-secret by definition, I think, because it's in a magazine. Maybe there's three levels; The stuff we see, the stuff we're told about.., and the rest.

    The all-mighty consumer dollar certainly drives innovation, but so does the all-mighty government contract.

    -The government contract! Ahh... -Where you can make gobs of money and accumulate that far more valuable substance which money is just a stand-in for anyway, *Power*, -and do so by innovating without the need for those pesky little consumers. (Being a pesky little consumer myself, I can honestly declare that I've never bought a radar invisible fighter jet before. -Nor the kind which comes a few generations after the obsolete ones we get to see in action, whatever the heck they might look like...) -The military contract version of R&D also has another advantage over the consumer model; at any time, you can step over the market game rule boundaries and exert spook-muscle to ensure that all the really cutting-edge technology developed by your partners (on your side of the blurry line running through all the big consumer goods manufacturers) remains under your control. That's just tactically smart, and we know 100% for certain that it happens all the time. Some readers of this very site have probably signed some scary non-disclosures in their professional lives.

    There's a lot you can do when all your employees have signed their lives away and you where work outside the law anyhow. But that's the military industrial complex for you. "Building tomorrow, today. And lying through our teeth about it!"

    Ever read Fletcher Prouty? Now there's a worthy reason to own a tablet!

    Anyway, interesting info on the super-caps.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2015
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