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What are the Common Purposes? I've dwelt on that question since first reading my alma mater's founding principle "for the purposes of instructing persons, who may choose to apply themselves, in the application of science to the common purposes of life". The question, more than any answer I may ever offer, has guided me through many personal and professional endeavors. And, if I have learned anything it is that I have derived my greatest joy when I, as part of a team, have made a lasting difference to improve the lives of others. Should the thoughts I share here and the ensuing discussion lead others to ask the same question, to seek their own answers and to experience the same joy as I, then I shall consider this effort of value.

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Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

Posted September 15, 2006 4:59 PM by MillMatt

There are some wonderful new technologies for energy storage but according to a recent article by Franklin Paul titled, "New battery tech still years away" we are just going to have to wait for commercial release of these products.

Can anyone tell me what the technical barriers are? We need these batteries now and we need fuel cell technology now, too. What is holding these products back from commercialization?

As Mr. Paul writes in his article, there are many companies around the world, some prominent names and some start-ups, who are investing heavily in new materials and designs but, at least from a business perspective, they all are being very cautious. Notwithstanding recent quality issues with laptop batteries that resulted in an industry recall, there is strong market demand for these products.

So, what are the technical hurdles yet to be resolved? I would really like to start a discussion of the issues and help find answers.

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#1

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

09/15/2006 11:12 PM

The only issue is: M O N E Y !!! which is the biggest technical barrier my friend and nothing else (at least for me).

Warm regards, Dumitru

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#2

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

09/15/2006 11:52 PM

the big problem is full reversibility. Take any rechargeable batter and charge it to the max and then discharge it fully, once a day. In a year or less many will be down to 50%. Car batteries are no better. They are kept almost fully charged and you may think they do not siffer from this problem. but if you discharge them and fully charge them daily, they will not make a year. same with laptop batteries and many others.

So a car battery that is made of NiMh, that weighs 1000 pounds costs about $8000+ for raw nickel plus making it can take that to $12,000 . In a year it is scrap, worth $2000. So to drive your car you spent $10,000/365 = $28.day plus electricity ~~$30/day and you have 200 miles range

One type that is good is the old wet cell nicads. They can last years, but have lower power density.

The battery companies are spending billions every year to solve this. It is difficult and they are only to make a gain of a few days or so every year in longer battery life.

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#14
In reply to #2

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

02/09/2007 3:25 AM

What happened to the sodium-sulphur battery? The future for these was bright 20 years ago.

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#15
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

02/09/2007 3:28 AM

The other technique for energy storage that seems to have disappeared is extemely high speed flywheels. Conceive two flywheels, running in the same axis at many tens of thousands of rpm in opposite directions, releasing power and slowing down while the vehicle accelerates, and absorbing power pumped in by regenerative braking circuitry and speeding up as the vehicle slows down.

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#16
In reply to #15

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

02/09/2007 7:40 AM

In reply to measage #8

Isn't this guy suggesting what I said in "cordless power " about using" electromagnetic between wires "

I thought I was told it can't work ?

I like the idea of utilizing flywheels I had a Saab in 1979 that had a freewheel devise that worked great I wonder why production stopped ,It probably worked too well , so it would have to be phased out.

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#3

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

09/16/2006 12:10 AM

I think meantime that is a job secure for the battery manufacturers to make this nightmare as long as possible and this is reversele also in many ways.

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#4
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

09/16/2006 12:17 AM

not at all. They are deathly afraid someone else will find a solution and their batteries will become scrap. Car batteries made of lead are a mature technology. Heavy and little is spent on it as not matter what you do you cannot make lead any lighter.

Most work is in the lithium area, and it has a high voltage per cell (3.0 volts) and is very light. Next is NiMh, but only 1.2 volts per cell and 7 times as heavy as lithium.

So the future is with lithium. IN 5 years we will have an acceptable one. They are in the labs now.

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#5
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

09/19/2006 3:45 PM

Have you read about advances in fuel cells that are powered by methanol basically a bic lighter that makes 24 volts real interesting .I read an acticle recently that Honda has made a big breakthrough in methanal production .I think its much closer than you might think.Try reuters.com or bioethanol-Honda for a hopeful article

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#6
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

09/19/2006 6:13 PM

Yes, I have heard of them. I did not mention them here since they are not rechargeable batteries.

A cell is one generator of EMF, a battery is a bunch of them in series or parallel for more volts or current, like a battery of guns(artillery) versus one gun.

In the same way these fuel cells are also batteries.....many lower voltage cells in series, however they cannot be run backwards to make methanol, so you will always have the task of replacing the methanol(some use ethanol and other fluids).

IN many ways methanol fuel cells are far better. you can get a lot more power from one of them than any known battery. Max potential for a lithium battery is on the order or 300 watt hours/kilogram. Right now we are under 100 for the best lithiums, but work goes on. The ideal battery would last 100 years, you change cars and take your battery with you.

Capacitors have been touted as battery replacements, but they are far inferior in capacity. On the other hand they last forever and can have high current capability, so most people feel these so called 'super capacitors' will be used as adjuncts to batteries, to give high start torque and spare the battery.

In case you ask, capacitors are a set of two surfaces separated by an electrolyte that you charge up. So they are inherently inferior to a battery which has an electric charge transfer versus the capacitor which it little more than a spring. Lots of speed power in a spring, but have you ever seen a spring powered passenger car?

Flywheels. These are also high in potential. Currently they are far better than batteries, but need to run on magnetic repulsion bearings in a vacuum at 300,000 rpm inside a crash proof strong box...which runs up the cost. But you can buy vehicles that run on them for load averaging. One day they will make a vehicle you spin up at night with cheap power and use for 200 miles or so for short trips.

Heating in cold climates is a problem. In time cars will have double windows and R100 insulation to keep the inside heated/cooled for the lowest energy cost.

http://www.utexas.edu/opa/news/02newsreleases/nr_200209/nr_bus020912.html

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#21
In reply to #6

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

04/18/2007 6:13 AM

Lots of speed power in a spring, but have you ever seen a spring powered passenger car?

There's one in the toy box in the loft...

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#7

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

10/12/2006 2:23 AM

Having researched battery technology updates, the latest I have found is nanotubed condenser technology giving the great surface area, there is also a newer style battery using another solvent and making the batteries non-combustant. although I'm not sure how these two are linked It seems that there needs to be a format (shape) that these new devises are produced in.

I am in the process of writiing a white paper on Expandable_flat_paneling_equelatral_tryangulation_matsĀ© a design section for an electromagnetic attachment mechanism to develop micro morphing fabric.

The basic shape a triangular, having one solar panel surface and the nanotubed condenser unit within the single triangular sliver. Is attached by means of a electromagnetic attachment, my main design project still in prototype stage.

SPssATV. at www.treezone.co.nz

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#8

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

10/31/2006 2:33 PM

I expect to see battery power vechiles with some type of recharging ablilty using the electic grid and an aerial. Fixed or auto positioning aerials could use the magnetic feild between electric wires to recharge batteries. By the way if there truly is an equal reaction to any action why cant we store enough engery from one down hill pass to return up the same hill?

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#10
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

11/12/2006 11:00 AM

That reminds me of the Classic Rolls Canardley. This was touted as the poor peoples free energy car.

Rolls down one hill, can hardley get up the next ...

A better way is to find two separate routes. One way is down hill to work/school, and you brake regeneratively and plug in and sell that energy to the grid while you work/study. You then take another route downhill to do the same.

If you are of an enterprising mind you can have someone drive the car back and forth over that route a number of time, stopping at each end to plug into the grid while he takes another car back.

I tried this, but the marxists got to the driver and he demanded too much and the project failed.

As for point to point radiative transfer via an antenna...what a joy to have billions of KW of RF energy passing through all and sundry every day.

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#13
In reply to #8

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

02/09/2007 3:24 AM

The technique exists. It is called 'regenerative braking'.

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#9

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

11/12/2006 10:38 AM

Apart from cost ther are the laws of physics to over come and the types of materials we have available, It all comes down to the chemistry involved. A little thing called the energy density that can be achieved. Only so much charge can be stored in a given reaction, and as time goes by permanent changes take place allowing less energy to be stored. Lead acid cells sulphate up and the porus lead plates become less able to take and store charge. Nicad cells dry out. ther is at this time no easy low cost solution. Nickel Iron cells using potasium hydroxide will give the best energy per unit of weight with the best charge distarge results but they are big and heavy.

For small portable equipment Nickel metal hydroxide cells are as good as we can get.

If cadmium was not so toxic NiCads would still be the leading technology because the amount of current you can draw is larger without damaging the cell. Heat is the major problem of charging ang distarging any cell, battery.

There are some sulphur based cells in development but they run at high temperatures.

The Lithium Iron technology used for laptop computers recently came into the news because of the sudden failures leading to fires. Lithium is too unstable for my liking.

Never try to put out a Lithium based fire with water!

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#11
In reply to #9

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

11/25/2006 5:38 AM

I think the best way to store electricity is to run your hydro-electric plant in reverse and pump water to a resivour at the top of a mountain.

It is rather expensive to build and not very mobile but you can use the power to run trains, we have at least one such installation in the UK

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#12
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

11/26/2006 1:59 PM

Up until about 30 years ago the UK had the largest number of electrically propelled vehicles of any country almost exclusively used for delivering bread or milk door to door, but with the growth of super markets and the need for wives to be out of the house to earn money to pay the mortgage they have almost died out they used NiFe batteries delivering about 2KW.

Up until about 1900 electric cars out numbered petrol but as the infrastructure for refuelling was built the superior performance petrol powered vehicles replaced them.

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#27
In reply to #12

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

05/23/2007 2:28 PM

There is a form of energy storage that I do not think has recieved a comment in this discussion at yet.

This is thermal storage which is used in solar energy plants of the type that focus solar radiation with the aid of parabolic reflectors on to oil filled tubes, apparently enough hot oil can be stored to keep the plant generating overnight.

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#29
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

05/31/2007 7:02 AM
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#17

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

02/20/2007 8:29 PM

hi millmatt,

I can see that the discussion is gradually shifting towards energy storage for vehicles.

...best energy storage system would encompass a number of storage types,i.e.: flywheel, compressed air, battery/capacitor, add in compressed/liquid oxygen-methanol-gas turbine, and we have a very environment friendly and compact propulsion system. Chryler once raced just such a car - turbine-generator coupled to flywheel and drive motors....don't really know what happened after that.

..moving the idea towards more general application, Dumitru was right in linking money/cost vis-avis widespread application. The hurdle is same with other energy storage/conversion systems(solar/wind,etc).One way would be to package such equipment/systems into regular consumer items, i.e.: consumer electric/electronics/equipment. Now, why would a given Inc. want to do this? - long term investment! - captive markets/sustainable consumer base,etc.,

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

04/05/2007 1:32 PM

My perception is this: Battery limitations make this avenue very unlikely to result in a truly viable solution. Rather limited charge/discharge cycle life and energy density (kwh/#) are fundamental problems that are intractable.

High speed flywheels are inherently dangerous in collisions.

Compressed gas requires heavy container, see above

Superconducting magnetic energy storage? Viable right now for large installations (1000 MW nuclear power plants)--but not for automotive uses--yet. Most promising from fundamentals view--no costly/toxic/exotic materials, infinite cycle life,

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#19
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

04/05/2007 1:46 PM

They are gradually increasing the number of charge/discharge cycles as they work out how to consume and reform the materials uniformly. Dendrite formation being th biggest problem in some cells by causing shorts.

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=dendrite+%2Bbattery&btnG=Google+Search

I think we will see great advances in battery tech over the next 10 years driven by the the warming and tax incentive to develop better batteries.

Nuclear power is the solution. There are no real problems with it, just nimbyism run wild

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#20
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

04/10/2007 6:32 PM

They wouldn't build one next door I begged them to, it would be better than my neibours any day. But it all comes down to money as has been said, perhaps they would open up nuclear waste dump? I can only live in hope.

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#22

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

04/18/2007 4:23 PM

It seems that all promising new energy technology is always some years away from being available or available at a cost that will allow for mass take up. Am I just being cynical?

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#23

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

05/22/2007 1:21 PM

When the Victorians built London's underground railway system they installed a very efficient energy storage system at many stations, to store the energy as the train stopped and to release it when it needed to accelerate away. This system has no moving parts and is maintenance free.

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#24
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

05/23/2007 9:00 AM

Care to share a description, pictures or a link to more information?

And, seriously, whatever did happen to the Victorians? Where are they now???

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

05/23/2007 9:06 AM

Ah! I was waiting for a bite!

The stations are on a small rise e.g. a hill!

As the train approaches the kinetic enery is converted into potential energy.

As the train pulls away it accelerates by rolling down the hill.

Pretty reliable stuff gravity!

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#26
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

05/23/2007 9:09 AM

That was my reply...miowwww

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#28
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Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

05/31/2007 6:56 AM

It works quite well. The Post Office underground railway in London uses this technique so as to get the trains away from the stopping points faster and to slow them down faster, for less energy cost.

So, why on earth do major road designers locate the roundabout at the intersection below the main carriageway and not above it [rhetorical question]?

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#30

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

07/10/2007 12:03 PM

Why not make a the batterys in the shape of auto body parts or what ever the application is with the solar panel built into them. As simple plug could transfer the power from fenders,doors,and other parts to the motor. Nearly all of a vechile is now plastic anyways stop messing around and go all the way. The case of a laptop could be the battery for instance.

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#31
In reply to #30

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

07/11/2007 6:34 PM

I guess your suggesting that plastic is a good place to locate a solar panel ? That may be a good idea but I was not aware that it was .Maybe your on to something I can't see why the panels couldn't be imbeded with solar collection devises .Why not ?

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#32

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

07/03/2008 7:06 PM

I have often wondered why solar panels are not built into mostly electric powered cars. The panels would NOT be able to provide enough power to actually run the car but would be able to extend the range I think. Right now, a purely electric vehicle just would not work for me in my day-to-day needs. If the range were extended though...say 300 miles per charge and the potion to re-charge over 2 or 3 sunny days using solar panels then you would have an item I could use!

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#33

Re: Energy Storage Technical Hurdles

11/12/2008 7:43 AM

No one has mentioned flow batteries, where the active constituents are stored in a "fuel tank". The used material is stored in another tank and regenerated whenever convenient.

The best developed that I know of is the Zn/Br battery see link:

http://www.electricitystorage.org/tech/technologies_technologies_znbr.htm

50 and 500kW units have been built.

I believe the sodium sulphoxide/Br battery is being developed, but have been unable to find out much about it.

Of course it is a moot point as to whether any flow battery is a battery or a fuel cell.

For mobile use, the thought of a vehicle with a tank full of Br being involved in an accident is pretty frightening.

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