Mystery of car battery's current solved

Dec 19, 2011
Starter turn: lead-acid battery is mysterious. Photo: Phil Parker

(PhysOrg.com) -- Chemists have solved the 150 year-old mystery of what gives the lead-acid battery, found under the bonnet of most cars, its unique ability to deliver a surge of current.

Lead-acid batteries are able to deliver the very large currents needed to start a because of the exceptionally high electrical conductivity of the battery , lead dioxide. However, even though this type of battery was invented in 1859, up until now the fundamental reason for the high conductivity of lead dioxide has eluded scientists.

A team of researchers from Oxford University, the University of Bath, Trinity College Dublin, and the ISIS neutron spallation source, have explained for the first time the fundamental reason for the high conductivity of lead dioxide.

A report of the research appears in this week’s Physical Review Letters.

‘The unique ability of lead acid batteries to deliver surge currents in excess of 100 amps to turn over a starter motor in an automobile depends critically on the fact that the lead dioxide which stores the chemical energy in the battery anode has a very high electrical conductivity, thus allowing large current to be drawn on demand,’ said Professor Russ Egdell of Oxford University’s Department of Chemistry, an author of the paper.

‘However the origin of in lead oxide has remained a matter of controversy. Other oxides with the same structure, such as titanium dioxide, are electrical insulators.’

Through a combination of computational chemistry and neutron diffraction, the team has demonstrated that lead dioxide is intrinsically an insulator with a small electronic band gap, but invariably becomes electron rich due to the loss of oxygen from the lattice, causing the material to be transformed from an insulator into a metallic conductor.

The researchers believe these insights could open up new avenues for the selection of improved materials for modern technologies.

Professor Egdell said: ‘The work demonstrates the power of combining predictive materials modelling with state-of-the-art experimental measurements.’

Explore further: Interfaces within materials can be patterned as a means of controlling the properties of composites

Related Stories

Car batteries powered by relativity

Jan 14, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- French physicist Gaston Plante invented the lead-acid battery in 1859 – almost 50 years before Einstein developed his theories of relativity. Now scientists have found that the lead-acid ...

Details of new type of electric car battery released

May 27, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- After being spun off from parent company A123 Systems last year; the new offspring, 24M has published a paper in Advanced Energy Materials, ending months of speculation about what it has be ...

Recommended for you

A new, tunable device for spintronics

Aug 28, 2014

Recently, the research group of Professor Jairo Sinova from the Institute of Physics at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in collaboration with researchers from the UK, Prague, and Japan, has for the first time realised ...

User comments : 15

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nanobanano
2.1 / 5 (29) Dec 19, 2011
However, even though this type of battery was invented in 1859, up until now the fundamental reason for the high conductivity of lead dioxide has eluded scientists


But wait a minute.

That CAN'T be right.

We were using a technology without fullyunderstanding it!

There weren't 50 peer reviewed papers explaining and proving why it worked?

This was not approved by the mainstream peer review trolls in the past 150 years. This is an outrage!

I thought that's why nobody believes Rossi's device works, because there aren't 50 peer reviewed papers agreeing with the results, the scientific community discarded it.

Once again, it shows that things can be useful without a full and complete understanding: Fire was used for cooking and metallurgy before any theory of atomic matter, nevermind electrons, existed.

Rossi deserves another look.

NASA has also allegedly filed a cold fusion patent of it's own, but I haven't been able to verify that...
Shootist
4.3 / 5 (19) Dec 19, 2011
e-cat vs. battery. The battery works. It can be shown to work, repeatedly. It's inner workings are not hidden from prying eyes.

That said, I do agree regarding 'cold fusion', there is some funny business going on and it should be investigated.
coquillionxxx
4.9 / 5 (13) Dec 19, 2011

We were using a technology without fullyunderstanding it!

There weren't 50 peer reviewed papers explaining and proving why it worked?

This was not approved by the mainstream peer review trolls in the past 150 years. This is an outrage!

I thought that's why nobody believes Rossi's device works, because there aren't 50 peer reviewed papers agreeing with the results, the scientific community discarded it.


I dare say that this is a specious argument based on false analogy. Do we have to understand the mechanism of Rossi's invention for it to work? No. Do we need peer reviewed papers showing net energy gain to the exclusion of less exotic mechanisms of generation? I should hope so.
DougCoulter
4.6 / 5 (14) Dec 19, 2011
Nah, we just need readily available instructions on how to duplicate his results, which many would rush to attempt, including this particular fusion researcher who thinks it's a pile of crap, since he's so secretive and won't let anyone even really observe it run. All the signs of a fraud in full display, you could hardly try harder to look like a fake.
Parsec
4.2 / 5 (9) Dec 19, 2011
The real reason that scientific community is very skeptical of people like Rossi, is because he refuses to share information that would allow scientists to validate it on its merits.

When scientists are shown a black box in which a miracle is said to happen inside, with out being able to open the box and see what is happening, they would be fools not to be skeptical. In addition, no viable suggested mechanism for generating the extra heat has been offered. I for one would dearly love cold fusion to work. But I am highly dubious from what I see.
rollin45
2.5 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2011
"The real reason that scientific community is very skeptical of people like Rossi, is because he refuses to share information that would allow scientists to validate it on its merits."

Ahhh, somewhat like Hansen and his hockey stick.. now I understand.
Callippo
1.4 / 5 (11) Dec 19, 2011
The real reason that scientific community is very skeptical of people like Rossi, is because he refuses to share information that would allow scientists to validate it on its merits.
Nope, it's definitely NOT this reason. Why?

The Foccardi and Piantelli published their findings routinely during last twenty years, they were completely documented and reported COP > 3. But scientists didn't move their fingers until Rossi had come and he claimed COP ~ 6. But does it really make such huge difference? The COP ~ 3 is still perpetuum mobile. Actually, even the COP ~ 1.001 would be worth of scientific study, because mainstream physics does care even about way more minute effects, if it gets the impression, it has something to do with gravitational waves and/or Higgs boson.
Callippo
1.6 / 5 (8) Dec 19, 2011
but invariably becomes electron rich due to the loss of oxygen from the lattice, causing the material to be transformed from an insulator into a metallic conductor
It essentially means, the PbO2 is doped with oxygen vacancies like every other superconductor. The same is true about manganese dioxide or titanium dioxide too. In this later case it manifests with deep blue color.
Howhot
1 / 5 (6) Dec 19, 2011
My understanding of the Rossi system and why he has not let out the definitive "Howto" guild is that he is waiting to recieve international patents on the catalysts. Until then, everything is under "Trade Secret" protection, just like the KFC fried chicken recipe. I've read some comments by some good physicists who attended the October 1MW test, that said it wasn't faked and was arguably extremely impressive.

So yeah, the analogy to the lead/acid battery 150 years ago seems like a good one.
LEDman
4.8 / 5 (5) Dec 19, 2011
The filiing date of the patent sets priority. Once you have done that you can tell the world, so wanting to keep a "trade secret" after you have filed doesn't make sense. Patent applications are published within 18 months, so why can't anyone find them?

If he is showing the devices (publicly) and offered them for sale, then in many countries he has already lost his ability to patent, so we may never know the truth.
DougCoulter
5 / 5 (3) Dec 19, 2011
His Italian patent was rejected for not having enough information. This was covered to death on some fusion discussion boards awhile back.

Some people even tried to dupe his work with what little info there was, and they did get heat - the amount you'd expect from a pure chemical reaction of H and Ni. That was considered a null result, but would explain his carefully guarded (from anyone who could check him) runs in "public".
MarkyMark
5 / 5 (5) Dec 20, 2011
I cannot understand how some people can believe this ecat thing works. I mean just look at the way its inventor operates!!! This reminds me of that Southpark episode when the Mormon faith is explained how the Mormon bible was inspired by magical tablets that can only be read by special seeing stones. Also they were kept in a box i think and only the founder was allowed to look inside the box, acording to him an angel told him this. So his followers took what he said on faith alone which sounds a lot like Ecat and its followers.
rawa1
1 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2011
I mean just look at the way its inventor operates!
How is it relevant to Focardi and Piantelli? They're extraordinarily normal, serious scientists. And they published the same results, like the A. Rossi demonstrated, just at smaller scale. From this reason I don't care about Rossi and ECat at all, because my source of information about it is completely different.

http://newenergyt...rs.shtml

Actually it's disputable, whether the real interpreter would act differently. When client says, he don't want a public presentation, it's just just him, who is paying the whole show. If someone wants to find, whether E-Cat unit is working, he can simply buy it and makes sure for yourself.
Callippo
2.3 / 5 (3) Dec 20, 2011
lead dioxide becomes electron rich due to the loss of oxygen from the lattice, causing the material to be transformed from an insulator into a metallic conductor. The researchers believe these insights could open, blah blah...
I just made a brief search at Goggle, where I found article from 1948:

http://scitation....p;ref=no

"..A mechanism for conduction is proposed which assumes that lead dioxide is not of exact stoichiometric composition, but contains an excess of lead, which is considered to be dissociated into tetravalent lead ions and free electrons. The conductivity is due to the latter..."

Apparently, this mechanism has been known with many additional details before fifty years already. Is it exactly what the physicists and journalists are payed for?
KBK
1 / 5 (1) Jan 01, 2012
the white powder of gold, the philosopher's stone, is a superconductive material. It is an oxide of gold.

It kinda relates to this issue of ..lead -in this report.

As usual, the intrepid will investigate ....and be silent.

Rightly so.

The ignorant and linear will be detractive and verbal. As per usual, according to their ignorance and will to remain so.

the problem is that the ignorant infect with their herd mentality. There is a bell curve for everything and then there is a small group of individuals who are well outside of it.

This is a normal thing, in all areas of this big world. There is a 'normal' group of genii, a 'bell curve of genius' that those who peruse this website..purport to look up to..

Well... there is a group, a smaller group, which exists ----beyond that. Nothing new there.

However,again...there is a lack of understanding of this 'normal' thing, among those who peruse this website....

In that group that beyond, in there...you will find the alchemists.