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New "Super Battery" Energy Storage Breakthrough Aims At $54 Per KWh (cleantechnica.com) 159

mdsolar writes: BioSolar and the University of California, Santa Barbara, reinforced a previous international patent application by jointly filing applications in the U.S., Canada and Japan for something called a "multicomponent-approach to enhance stability and capacitance in polymer-hybrid supercapacitors." The BioSolar energy storage approach solves two core problems of conventional lithium-ion battery technology. One is the cost of materials, and the other is the limited capacity of the cathode compared to the anode. BioSolar has solved the cost and capacity problem by developing an inexpensive polymer for the cathode. "Our novel high capacity cathode is engineered from a polymer, similar to that of low-cost plastics used in the household. Through a smart chemical design, we are able to make the polymer hold an enormous amount of electrons. The estimated raw materials cost of our cathode is similar to that of inexpensive plastics, with a very high possible energy density of 1,000 Wh/kg." BioSolar's research also indicates that the new polymer enables batteries to charge and discharge rapidly while far outlasting the lifecycle of conventional lithium-ion energy storage. According to the company, conventional batteries drop down to 80 percent of their storage capacity after 1,000 charge/discharge cycles. When the new polymer is used in a supercapacitor, BioSolar's lab work has demonstrated a lifespan of 50,000 cycles without degradation.
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New "Super Battery" Energy Storage Breakthrough Aims At $54 Per KWh

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2016 @02:18PM (#51599155)
    When we combine that with fusion solar beamed to the ground from space our energy problems should be essentially solved. I wouldn't want to be an oil company right now.
    • Re:So happy. :) (Score:4, Informative)

      by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @02:21PM (#51599173) Homepage Journal
      Wake me up when that happens. I'll bet it will be the same year we have a commercial fusion reactor. Only 20 years away!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Fantasies for addled-brained children.

      http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the... [ucsd.edu]

      And what does "fusion solar" even mean?

    • Even oil companies don't want to be oil companies, if they wish to bring profits in the future to the owners and shareholders.

      The same big names will provide clean and renewable energy in the future. They have the resources. But sure, the companies that won't change will die out.

      I'd expect the energy companies to obtain new tech and patents and build business on them rather than trying to suppress the inevitable.

      • by dfghjk ( 711126 )

        Oil companies are the most profitable businesses on earth. They are all delighted that they are oil companies. They can be other things, too, just so long as the opportunity cost isn't too great.

        Oil produces more than just energy.

        • Oil companies are the most profitable businesses on earth

          Wow, that explains why the stock price of Ultra Petroleum has gone from 70 dollars to 40 cents.

      • Re: So happy. :) (Score:4, Interesting)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @03:18PM (#51599511)

        The same big names will provide clean and renewable energy in the future.

        Maybe not. If batteries are cheap, and solar panels are cheap, then I can just have my own batteries and panels. So why do I need to buy energy from a "big company"? In my neighborhood, I already see dozens of houses with solar panels. Imagine how many will have them when they actually make sense!

        • How cheap would it have to get to become reasonable to cut yourself off completely from the grid?
          • This will change once he cuts himself of oil for transportation. But the number you are looking for is somewhat subjective. Some people are willing to pay more because of ideological reasons and some will count any hassles as a barrier.

            For me, cheap enough will be below current prices and i can have the system paid off within 5 years with the ability to quickly and easily repair anything myself or have someone do it for me within a day or so. That's what I have now with electric bills between $50 and $100

            • In general, you also need to consider the cost of reliability.....how much intermittence are you willing to tolerate?

              The real win will be when people in shanty-towns in third-world countries can afford to have their own electricity system.
          • What makes you think you can cut yourself off of the grid? There are laws against that sort of thing.
            • There are laws against that sort of thing.

              Really? Why?

              • Because "You need power for smoke and carbon monoxide detectors", or "You must be connected to the sewer system", or "You cannot hoard rain water", or some such nonsense.

                In reality, it's just that Uncle Sam and Mayor Quimby need their cut.
                • by dbIII ( 701233 )
                  I suggest you enrol to vote and maybe do something about it instead of putting up with that shit.
                  Land of the free my arse. Don't need to wear a seatbelt so have the right to die stupid but you can't have a water tank? If you all got off your backsides and voted those few that play at politics couldn't put such things over on you.
                • ok, I see you have trouble recognizing context lol. I meant the power grid, since we're talking about power.
                  • Oh, I recognize the context. However, that context fits into a larger context. It is becoming illegal to not be interfaced with some government mandated corporate monopoly or another somewhere along the line - be it power, or water, or sewage,or whatever. You must be trackable For Your Own Safety(TM)
                    • Out in the country where I used to live, you can dig your own well, deal with sewage yourself......but in the middle of the city, I kind of understand not being allowed to do that.......
            • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

              Where do you live that you have to connect to the grid? I know a guy who keeps his milk in an ice cooler. He doesn't bother with any electricity if it's not in a battery. You know, use of electricity commercially began in the late 1800s. My grandfather was the first in his family to have electric lights. Millions of people lived without it even then. I can see a day coming where millions will live without it again.

          • by dbIII ( 701233 )
            It depends where you live. For some people I know it was 2002 since the utility wanted thousands to run a line in. Now it's looking like it's going to happen in the suburbs in some areas due to blatant price gouging.
            It may be expensive to go offgrid but it's starting to get to be very expensive to stay on the grid in some areas, especially when you get conflicts of interest with governments having electricity companies as a major source of revenue (eg. in Australia).
        • You'll still be buying batteries and panels initially from someone. and there will be a (smaller) market for maintenance and/ or repair.

          Hay merchants used to provide many kilos of food every day to every propulsion source in the land. Then, as new transport methods developed, some morphed into selling coal (for railways), wheels (for wagons), or mineral oil (for internal combustion engines). And some people who remained selling hay for horses, went out of business.

          If Shell (to pick an example) chose to br

    • I would think it would still be useful with other, more realizable power generation methods. I suggest harnessing the power of unicorn farts as a stop-gap measure.

      • Natural Gas?!?! I already use that to heat my house, I suspect not all of it comes from unicorns but they charge me like it does.

    • Beat you to it!
  • wake me... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spazmania ( 174582 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @02:22PM (#51599181) Homepage

    Wake me up when they have batteries actually built and selling at that price point. Until then it's just bluster: there's no way to know what industrial challenges will creep in and drive the price up.

    • Re:wake me... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2016 @02:27PM (#51599209)

      Wake me up when they have batteries actually built and selling at that price point. Until then it's just bluster: there's no way to know what industrial challenges will creep in and drive the price up.

      I know, who cares about scientific research and progress, we are instant gratification consumers god dammit, if we can't buy it at Costco right now it has now value or interest. This should be posted to a site that cares about news for geeks.

      • Re:wake me... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @02:45PM (#51599311) Homepage Journal
        More like who cares about a press release of a company trying to get funding.
        • Re:wake me... (Score:5, Informative)

          by ganv ( 881057 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @03:28PM (#51599561)
          Yes, that is right. Reminds me of EEStor which every now and then repeats their promise of transformative super-capacitors based on their granted patents. But it is just vaporware. Hopefully this time is better, but anyone who is not a fool knows to expect most of these press releases to come to nothing.
      • Re:wake me... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Nutria ( 679911 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @02:47PM (#51599321)

        who cares about scientific research and progress

        Some of us are old enough to have seen thousands of these "in 10 years" vaporware press releases for stuff that never gets put in production, and so have become quite jaded.

        • Some of us are old enough to have seen thousands of these "in 10 years" vaporware press releases for stuff that never gets put in production, and so have become quite jaded.

          Doesn't mean that nobody will ever build a breakthrough battery....

          They're not claiming anything impossible, over unity, or against the laws of physics. Try keeping your jaded old mind open.

          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            Try keeping your jaded old mind open.

            You seem to have the wrong idea about what the word "jaded" means.

            jadÂed
            ËjÄdÉ(TM)d/
            adjective
            tired, bored, or lacking enthusiasm, typically after having had too much of something.

            Nowhere in that definition does it deny that something can happen.

        • by Idou ( 572394 )
          Are you sure that you are jaded or just willfully ignorant?

          Show me another technology (besides wind and solar power) that has improved this quickly in the last 10 years [rameznaam.com].
          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            How much of that is snazzy cutting edge tech, and how much is existing tech at much higher economies of scale?

            Asked a different way, what do the kW/kg and time-to-charge curves look like?

            • by Idou ( 572394 )

              How much of that is snazzy cutting edge tech, and how much is existing tech at much higher economies of scale?

              I don't know if you can separate "cutting edge tech" from "economies of scale." Economies of scale allow you to economically adopt technologies for production that could never have been used before (i.e. "cutting edge") due to limited scale. Think of a dozen guys putting together a car vs a robotic production line. The biggest gains these day's from economies of scale ARE technological (think volumes reaching a point that make "automation" worth it). Generally speaking, economies of scale results in the inc

              • by Nutria ( 679911 )

                Think of a dozen guys putting together a car vs a robotic production line.

                (Slashdot needs strike-through.)

                Think of a three guys assembling a car vs. Henry Ford's assembly line: very little high tech, but very much economies of scale.

                • by Idou ( 572394 )

                  Think of a three guys assembling a car vs. Henry Ford's assembly line: very little high tech, but very much economies of scale.

                  I agree, over a hundred years ago economies of scale were not so technologically focused (though, I feel there is a strong argument that the assembly line, itself, is a technology that only makes sense at a certain volume, but I digress. . .). Do you have any examples more recent than a century ago? Sure, there are volume discounts, financing cost reductions, etc. . . but technology related CapEx is by far #1 these days. At least for similarly quickly advancing technologies (solar, wind, portable computing

                  • by Nutria ( 679911 )

                    I think you're not understanding the point of "economies of scale": you have to do the same thing over and over. That's why robots are so useful.

                    But repeatedly changing the underlying technology (like shrinking process fab) doesn't allow you to amortize the costs of the factory.

                    • by Idou ( 572394 )
                      In microeconomics, economies of scale are the cost advantages that enterprises obtain due to size, output, or scale of operation, with cost per unit of output generally decreasing with increasing scale as fixed costs are spread out over more units of output. [wikipedia.org]

                      Maybe I do not understand your definition, but I have provided the definition above that I do understand.

                      Intel is the perfect example of having "economies of scale" and, in the past, has been willing to invest in new technologies that others would
                    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

                      with cost per unit of output generally decreasing with increasing scale as fixed costs are spread out over more units of output.

                      IOW, you're doing the same thing over and over.

                      Intel is the perfect example of having "economies of scale"

                      And each iteration of a factory pumps out millions of units using the same process (barring the occasional tweak).

                      Of course, I would immediately respond that "economies of scale" is playing a far greater role

                      Isn't that what I originally said?

                    • by Idou ( 572394 )

                      IOW, you're doing the same thing over and over.

                      I agree it is impossible to explain my point to someone who thinks: economies of scale = learning-by-doing. This will not be my first failure to try to teach rudimentary economics to a /.-er. . .

                      And each iteration of a factory pumps out millions of units using the same process (barring the occasional tweak).

                      Nor do I have time to explain the semiconductor industry to you. . . there are plenty of resources online. Saying that Intel's Tick-Tock [wikipedia.org] process just requires an "occasional tweak" is laughable to anyone with even a very basic grasp of the matter. You are really missing out on the pinnacle of human technological dev

                    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

                      Saying that Intel's Tick-Tock [wikipedia.org] process just requires an "occasional tweak"

                      I did not write that. I wrote "each iteration of a factory". If the tick and the tock require different fab equipment (and thus huge new capital expenditures), then they are different iterations of the factory.

                    • by Idou ( 572394 )
                      I SAID GOOD DAY!
                    • by Nutria ( 679911 )

                      I didn't force you to reply. Honestly.

        • who cares about scientific research and progress

          Some of us are old enough to have seen thousands of these "in 10 years" vaporware press releases for stuff that never gets put in production, and so have become quite jaded.

          Some of us a wise enough to have seen thousands of these "in 10 years" press releases for stuff that made it into production just fine. You're just picking out the failures to suit your agenda. I'm typing this post on a device that was built upon hundreds of press releases promising thinner, better, faster, using less power, as all the key points.

          • by Nutria ( 679911 )

            press releases for stuff that made it into production just fine

            You're acting like I said that it'll never happen. I didn't. I'm just with OP: wake me when it happens.

            built upon hundreds of press releases promising thinner, better, faster, using less power

            From major companies, or from from unknowns?

      • Available at Costco - that's boring, I heard about that 20 years ago when it was in development and got a copy from an Indiegogo developer 5 years ago - this is NEWS for nerds?

      • I know, who cares about scientific research and progress, we are instant gratification consumers god dammit, if we can't buy it at Costco right now it has now value or interest.

        This is about making extraordinary claims without evidence commensurate with claim and being surprised or upset when people elect to filter it as noise.

        All of these battery breakthrough articles are the same. They talk about hopes rather than current reality and actual accomplishments, they spend no time honestly addressing downsides or risks to success of technology and are heavily biased toward attracting attention of investors.

        The following is an advertisement not an informative article about scientific

      • Who cares about scientific research and progress? I do. But this wasn't a story about science, it was a story about price. Nobody is worse at predicting price than researchers who discover science but don't industrially produce anything.

    • Give me a nudge too, when you hear back about it, I want to buy about $10,000 worth of them if they really perform that well.
  • Sounds too good to be true. I'd like to be wrong about that though.

  • Manufacturable? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BaronM ( 122102 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @02:27PM (#51599211)

    Yet another battery breakthrough article for what is essentially a lab demo. While I have not particular knowledge of whether or not this technology is manufacturable, it seems like an awful lot of battery breakthroughs don't really pan out once it comes to building them in to actual products.

    • Perpetually 10 years away, along with the solar panel to fill it. We'll have year of the Linux Desktop about 9 years before you can buy one of these batteries on eBay
      • by Anonymous Coward

        I've had solar on my roof for 3 years...so your "perpetual 10 years" figure has been empirically disproven.

        Within 10 years, it will be cheaper to buy an electric car with a 300 mile range than it will to buy a gas car with equivalent trim level. I will personally bet you $100 on that.

        Yeah yeah I can already hear your followup argument "But I drive 3,000 miles a day each way to work and my town doesn't have electricity". A $20,000 300 mile range electric car won't work for everyone, but it will work for 90

        • Ah but that's oldskool solar panels, not the ones we have been repeatedly promised over the years. You'd be better off putting that 35k towards a nuclear bunker if Trump gets elected. Now that it transpires they didn't even use this technology to build a battery 10 years might be on the optimistic side, however a good few of the improved battery technologies promised in the late 2000's should be appearing on the market in the next few years
        • I will personally bet you $100 on that.

          Coming from an AC, that means a lot.
    • But a lot of the battery breakthroughs do pan out. Remember what laptop batteries were like in 2000?
    • by f97tosc ( 578893 )

      Yet another battery breakthrough article for what is essentially a lab demo. .

      Actually it sounds like it is not even a lab demo, but a theoretical estimate.

  • This is a cool development and it may set back fuel cell adoption, but batteries aren't a crucial technology. http://news.slashdot.org/story... [slashdot.org]
    • In a scenario where only power coming directly from a national grid is considered, natural gas is expensive, and significant financial and political hurdles have been overcome, batteries are not crucial. But outside of that scenario there are still tremendous gains that could be realized by better and cheaper batteries.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 27, 2016 @02:33PM (#51599245)

    As usual they "created" a battery on paper. After testing this 'amazing' polymer anode, they claim, combined with graphite cathode a magical-battery could be plausible. Nothing to see here folks its just vaporware. This is just more bull to keep their gravy train going. If they wanted real information they could simply have added the graphite cathode and published real world performance.

  • by fahrbot-bot ( 874524 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @02:42PM (#51599285)

    Through a smart chemical design, ...

    So relieved to hear they didn't use a dumb chemical design. /pedantic

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Ok, so what's the deal with this 'battery breakthrough'. Is it a lie? I ask the provocative question because I've heard a *lot* of "battery breakthrough" stories (they are almost as common as solar panel breakthroughs), and yet ....new batteries that store gobs of power? Example: a few years ago, there was a 'super battery breakthrough' here [sciencedaily.com], that is supposed to be a wildly better way to manufacture batteries where the cathode is so much better than before. And if you note the date of the article, its m

    • I remember a somewhat similar question : why don't we do 5nm semi-conductors right now instead of wasting time with 28nm, 22nm, 14nm etc.?

      Well I'm not sure what the answer is but I would say it is too hard, or even impossible.
      Even with $10 billion cash in hand, it's going to take many years to build that 5nm fab.
      Going from lab experiment to mass production of a "super battery" seems easier in comparison but will still take time, a ballpark figure given for industrialization of something is 5 years. Perhaps

    • As of today, you can get at least 2800mAH in a single AA rechargeable NiMH battery. Back in the olden days a nickel cadmium AA might of had 400mAH.

      You don't SEE battery advances. The battery form-factors rarely change. They just get denser (more energy), faster (charging) and cheaper.

      Many rechargeable batteries can get to 80% in a very short period of time (minutes).

      I think many people forget how long it used to take to charge phones and other devices. Hours. Overnight. Not minutes.
  • by bheading ( 467684 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @04:11PM (#51599793)

    Another day, another "breakthrough in energy storage tech" vapourware article.

  • by blindseer ( 891256 ) <blindseer@@@earthlink...net> on Saturday February 27, 2016 @04:20PM (#51599835)

    "BioSolar's research also indicates that the new polymer enables batteries to charge and discharge rapidly while far outlasting the lifecycle of conventional lithium-ion energy storage."

    Can these batteries recharge at a rate comparable to refilling my truck with gasoline? I doubt it. I can refill my truck in about five minutes, there is no way a battery can transfer that kind of energy in that amount of time, even if we account for the poor efficiency of an ICE to the high efficiency BEV and adjust energy needed accordingly.

    What really holds back electric vehicles is not just the limited range alone but the recharge rate. If I can recharge a BEV at the same rate I can refill my dinosaur burning truck then I would not have a problem with them. A five minute stop every so often on a road trip is usually not an issue for people, people typically have to stop anyway for biological reasons. A four hour stop, or even a 30 minute stop, can be a problem for people.

    Assuming we can find a battery that can take a charge comparable to the energy transfer of a roadside gasoline pump the problem then becomes creating a system to move that many electrons safely on something that must move down a road.

    • What really holds back electric vehicles ...

      EVs are about 0.75% of the US market right now.

      Every improvement in EV technology will improve their share, but I think the low hanging fruit is price, not charge time.
      Drop the price from $55k to $20k, and you'll sell a lot more than if you drop the charge time from 5 hours to 5 minutes.

      • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

        As long as the vehicle can recharge overnight in the garage, on the driveway or at the curb, recharge time is practical for must users. And we're already there. We've been there for some time.

        It's not about recharge time. There are two remaining factors that limit market share, and only two:

        o total energy storage
        o price

        Right now, in both areas, IC beats batteries, and batteries beat ultracaps (aka supercaps in the case of D.C. comics fans.)

        Were that to change, that's when EVs will break into the market in a

    • by jandjmh ( 66714 )

      There is a large and very consequential difference between a 30 minute stop and a 4 hour stop. My wife has a Tesla S80, and a lunch stop at a supercharger station halfway towards Reno from the SF bay area makes the trip easy. The stop is usually more like 40 minutes, and that gets the car pretty full. If it took 4 hours to do the same, we'd take our ICE vehicle instead.

    • What really holds back electric vehicles is not just the limited range alone but the recharge rate.

      I don't think it works like that. You recharge your electric car at home, at night. Every morning, it's fully charged. If you occasionally make trips that aren't within your EV's range, then some manufacturers, like Nissan, have contracts where you can pick up a ICE rental car for free (with a limit of a couple of weeks per year).

      Of course, if you routinely make trips longer than the EV's range, you're totally right.

  • by EmperorOfCanada ( 1332175 ) on Saturday February 27, 2016 @05:38PM (#51600291)
    I really hope that this is not one of those things where they have a tiny postage stamp sized things freshly pulled from a beaker that can power an LED. Keep in mind that I can stuff some metal wires into a lemon and power an LED.

    I want to see a demonstration unit that is doing something where I can calculate the power output. So a 5 KG battery boiling from room temperature a known amount of water. That is something where the energy efficiency is fairly high and the physics are boringly hard to fake.

    I am sick of these battery breakthroughs not having any "proof" I am OK with a 10 minute video that shows one of their batteries doing something such as the boiling water thing sped up with a clock in the background. In fact I am far more interested in that than some MBA wannabe just sitting in a chair talking about how this technology will make people immortal on Mars.

    But 5 minutes of blah blah, with 10 seconds in a lab showing some unknown motor or bulb running for a few seconds is not proof, it is nothing. Again, I can do stuff with a lemon. What will not happen is a few more developments that lets me drive a Tesla with that lemon.
  • And likely just as real. It is high time that any and all patent applications require delivery of a working prototype and for extraordinary claims such as these, independent creation of the device by a 3rd party based on the patent application only to verify the patent application is complete and truthful. It should not be possible to patent non-extraordinary things in the first place.

  • by Goldsmith ( 561202 ) on Sunday February 28, 2016 @11:44AM (#51603051)

    First, do the people talking about the science get their units right? Forget mixing imperial and metric, do the words and the measurements match up at all?

    Energy density is energy per volume. Wh/gal, Wh/L, MJ/L, or something like that.

    Specific energy is energy per weight. Wh/lb, Wh/kg, MJ/kg, or something like that.

    They're reporting an "energy density" with units of "specific energy." Are they doing their comparisons well if they don't understan what they're looking at? Have they done the measurement properly?

    Maybe this is a great invention, but this wasn't ready for publication or press release.

    • by ebvwfbw ( 864834 )

      First, do the people talking about the science get their units right? ...

      Ok, you have to look past that. Here we could very well have a situation where there's a *Super* Genius talking to a Reporter - someone that couldn't get a real job most of the time. At Maryland, if you flunk out of everything else, you can be a journalist. The dumbest of the dumb. So to me they're like the anti-science people. It's wonder reporting - If they get it right, it's a wonder.

      I stopped looking into this stuff a long time ago. It's nothing, or if it's something it involves some really bad chemical

Technological progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards. -- Aldous Huxley

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