New flow battery could enable cheaper, more efficient energy storage

Aug 16, 2013 by Jennifer Chu
Credit: Felice Frankel

MIT researchers have engineered a new rechargeable flow battery that doesn't rely on expensive membranes to generate and store electricity. The device, they say, may one day enable cheaper, large-scale energy storage.

The palm-sized prototype generates three times as much power per square centimeter as other membraneless systems—a power density that is an order of magnitude higher than that of many lithium-ion batteries and other commercial and experimental energy-storage systems.

The device stores and releases energy in a device that relies on a phenomenon called laminar flow: Two liquids are pumped through a channel, undergoing between two to store or release energy. Under the right conditions, the solutions stream through in parallel, with very little mixing. The flow naturally separates the , without requiring a costly membrane.

The in the battery consist of a liquid bromine solution and . The group chose to work with bromine because the chemical is relatively inexpensive and available in large quantities, with more than 243,000 tons produced each year in the United States.

In addition to bromine's low cost and abundance, the chemical reaction between hydrogen and bromine holds great potential for energy storage. But designs based on hydrogen and bromine have largely had mixed results: Hydrobromic acid tends to eat away at a battery's membrane, effectively slowing the energy-storing reaction and reducing the battery's lifetime.

To circumvent these issues, the team landed on a simple solution: Take out the membrane.

"This technology has as much promise as anything else being explored for storage, if not more," says Cullen Buie, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. "Contrary to previous opinions that membraneless systems are purely academic, this system could potentially have a large practical impact."

Buie, along with Martin Bazant, a professor of chemical engineering, and William Braff, a graduate student in , have published their results this week in Nature Communications.

"Here, we have a system where performance is just as good as previous systems, and now we don't have to worry about issues of the membrane," Bazant says. "This is something that can be a quantum leap in energy-storage technology."

Possible boost for solar and wind energy

Low-cost energy storage has the potential to foster widespread use of renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. To date, such energy sources have been unreliable: Winds can be capricious, and cloudless days are never guaranteed. With cheap energy-storage technologies, renewable energy might be stored and then distributed via the electric grid at times of peak power demand.

"Energy storage is the key enabling technology for renewables," Buie says. "Until you can make [energy storage] reliable and affordable, it doesn't matter how cheap and efficient you can make wind and solar, because our grid can't handle the intermittency of those renewable technologies."

By designing a without a membrane, Buie says the group was able to remove two large barriers to : cost and performance. Membranes are often the most costly component of a battery, and the most unreliable, as they can corrode with repeated exposure to certain reactants.

Braff built a prototype of a flow battery with a small channel between two electrodes. Through the channel, the group pumped liquid bromine over a graphite cathode and hydrobromic acid under a porous anode. At the same time, the researchers flowed hydrogen gas across the anode. The resulting reactions between hydrogen and bromine produced energy in the form of free electrons that can be discharged or released.

The researchers were also able to reverse the chemical reaction within the channel to capture electrons and store energy—a first for any membraneless design.

In experiments, Braff and his colleagues operated the flow battery at room temperature over a range of flow rates and reactant concentrations. They found that the battery produced a maximum power density of 0.795 watts of stored energy per square centimeter.

More storage, less cost

In addition to conducting experiments, the researchers drew up a mathematical model to describe the in a hydrogen-bromine system. Their predictions from the model agreed with their experimental results—an outcome that Bazant sees as promising for the design of future iterations.

"We have a design tool now that gives us confidence that as we try to scale up this system, we can make rational decisions about what the optimal system dimensions should be," Bazant says. "We believe we can break records of with more engineering guided by the model."

According to preliminary projections, Braff and his colleagues estimate that the membraneless flow battery may produce energy costing as little as $100 per kilowatt-hour—a goal that the U.S. Department of Energy has estimated would be economically attractive to utility companies.

"You can do so much to make the grid more efficient if you can get to a cost point like that," Braff says. "Most systems are easily an order of magnitude higher, and no one's ever built anything at that price."

Explore further: New battery design could help solar and wind power the grid

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antialias_physorg
3.7 / 5 (3) Aug 16, 2013
Nice. I've got high hopes for flow batteries - as they would allow for quick recharge at filling stations. Best of both worlds: Easy/low-cost/indefinite energy storage in tanks combined with emission-free fuel cells.

Even though batteries are more 'elegant' I think this is the way to go for the near future.
NikFromNYC
1.6 / 5 (13) Aug 16, 2013
Actual link to article: http://www.nature...346.html

"Credit: Felice Frankel"
Q: Who introduced Felice to advanced Photoshop tweaks in Edgerton's old lab?
A: -=NikFromNYC=-, Ph.D.
Example from the cover of Nature: http://scienceasa...mcxd.gif
NikFromNYC
1.5 / 5 (15) Aug 16, 2013
Gorebots derate all my posts, on any topic.

"As soon as virtue is born it gives rise to Envy in opposition to it and sooner will there be a body without a shadow than Virtue without Envy." – Leonardo da Vinci

http://postimg.or...i2zw0wz/

"Envy must be represented with a contemptuous motion of the hand towards heaven, because if she could she would use her strength against God; make her with her face covered by a mask of fair seeming; show her as wounded in the eye by a palm branch and by an olive-branch, and wounded in the ear by laurel and myrtle, to signify that victory and truth are odious to her. Many thunderbolts should proceed from her to signify her evil speaking. Let her be lean and haggard because she is perpetual torment. Make her heart gnawed by a swelling serpent, and make her with a quiver with tongues serving as arrows, because this creature kills the lion out of envy and by deceit. Give her too a vase in her hand full of flowers and scorpions and toads...."
loneislander
1 / 5 (5) Aug 16, 2013
I pay less than $0.15 per Kilowatt Hour. What's this $100.00 thing?
NikFromNYC
2.1 / 5 (11) Aug 16, 2013
loneislander wrote: "What's this $100.00 thing?"

I believe it's the cost to install and maintain a given capacity, and then you get to use the batteries over and over again.

"Present aqueous flow battery technologies have low energy densities (< 40 Wh/L) as a consequence of low solubilities of redox species and operating voltages that are bounded by water electrolysis. This, in turn, leads to prohibitively high total installation ($1200-$3310/kW) and operating costs ($300-$830/kWh) which hamper widespread adoption. Indeed, for broad commercialization, the Department of Energy has established goals of $100/kWh and $250/kW."

https://ecs.confe...0420.pdf
Eikka
2.7 / 5 (7) Aug 16, 2013
With cheap energy-storage technologies, renewable energy might be stored and then distributed via the electric grid at times of peak power demand.


I would like to see this false picture erased from public media.

It gives you the impression that the intermittent renewables produce energy steadily, except occasionally not. The reality is that the intermittent renewables mostly produce very little energy, except occasionally way too much.

The difference between peak output and average output with wind power is typically around 4:1 and with solar power 5:1 and up to 10:1 further away from the equator. It means that to cover a portion of demand, you need to build 4-10 times the amount of capacity and then deal with the surplus when it inevitably and regularily overtakes the demand.

It means storing humongous amounts of energy and releasing it out slowly over days and weeks, months even, instead of just having a backup battery for peak demand.
wwqq
5 / 5 (1) Aug 16, 2013
I pay less than $0.15 per Kilowatt Hour. What's this $100.00 thing?


That's the price of a battery that can store 1 kWh. You can charge it and discharge it over and over until eventually it degrades and breaks(yes, even flow batteries degrade, but we're talking ~10 000 cycles, give or take an order of magnitude)
infogulch
not rated yet Aug 16, 2013
The difference between peak output and average output ... with solar power 5:1 and up to 10:1 ...

It means storing humongous amounts of energy and releasing it out slowly over days and weeks, months even, instead of just having a backup battery for peak demand.


How have I never heard anything about this? I've never researched or heavily scrutinized renewable energy articles but this seems to be an ongoing glaring omission.

And now that you mention it, I take note that most renewable sources vary widely not just in a local time frame but even seasonally, or longer, between years. I guess it depends on the location (you mentioned distance to the equator) but until we have Superconductor Electricity Pipelines, that won't be practical for remote locations.

What about ocean wave energy? I guess space-solar wouldn't be as practical as it would be reliable.
djr
4.4 / 5 (7) Aug 16, 2013
"How have I never heard anything about this?"

Because it is disingenuous - and most knowledgeable writers are more honest. Yes - renewables are intermittent - and we will have to alter the way we look at power. In time - renewables can supply all of our power needs. The transition will take many decades - and we will adjust in many ways. Oklahoma now has a fabulous program. By keeping me aware of my power usage - I have come close to halfing my monthly bill - by shifting load to off peak hours - no major inconvenience. PV panels produce max power - during max load time - so there is a perfect match. The grids are being built as we speak. Oklahoma is building out large wind farms - and shipping power to neighboring states. England is hooking to Ireland and Europe, as is Spain to N. Africa. We live in exciting times.
Eikka
1.6 / 5 (7) Aug 17, 2013
How have I never heard anything about this? I've never researched or heavily scrutinized renewable energy articles but this seems to be an ongoing glaring omission.


Because nobody wants to care. The people who build these things know it, and don't care, and the politicians know it, and don't care, because it's not a problem when these renewable sources are still on a small scale. Nobody wants to talk about the problems before they actually become problems, because that means they'd have to pay to solve them.

Because it is disingenuous

The information is out in the open. It's not a conspiracy. A quick google can prove that e.g. wind power produces between 20-25% of its nominal capacity on average.

The power of a wind turbine grows 8 fold as the wind speed doubles, which means that wind power doesn't really produce anything at low to medium wind speeds. That's why turbines generally cut-in at 5-6 m/s which is already quite a breeze, and don't happen that all that often.
Eikka
1 / 5 (5) Aug 17, 2013
The proof is in the pudding:
http://theenergyc...-markets

The most important practical problem arises when intermittent renewable energy surges enjoying priority dispatch displace the demand for baseload power. Due to the potentially very large renewable energy spikes, this can already happen at fairly low penetrations. For example, German wind power shown below achieved a capacity factor of about 18% in 2012, but intermittent spikes regularly exceeded 70% of capacity – quadruple the mean output.


4:1 as I said. It's a porcupine of power peaks that quickly drop down to almost nothing. The problem is similiar with photovoltaic power.

As the article points out, the power peaks also cause electricity stock price crashes which means the producers can't turn a profit without government subsidies, which means it can't exist without the subsidies.
Eikka
1.7 / 5 (6) Aug 17, 2013
Here's for solar power:
http://www.solars...6th.html

The total installed base of solar energy in Germany is 33.5 GW and it reaches 23.4 GW peak power at the time of writing. That represents 39% of the demand, while solar power in Germany produces 4.8% of the demand on average. The difference between peak production and mean production is therefore about 8:1

As I said, the information is out there. The issue is that people who advocate these forms of energy go "la la" when you point out any of the practical problems that will bite you on the ass sooner or later.
Gmr
3.3 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2013
Eikka, I'm not currently aware of anyone who says "la la" or anyone who appears blissfully unaware of the general shortcomings of power generation, regardless of form. An intelligent grid would allow power to route to where it is needed, including such things as accounting for more demand by switching routing of power rather than turning power plants on or off, or allowing generated power to go unused.

Power usage and routing and capacity is hardly a new issue, brand spanking new with renewables. Without renewables involved, we have rolling blackouts or brownouts when things like heat waves drive up consumption beyond capacity, much less supply. Human use patterns are nearly as erratic as renewable production patterns, and one of the few "caps" we have on personal power use during winter is fuel oil cost...
Eikka
3 / 5 (4) Aug 17, 2013
The peak to mean of photovoltaic power can't be lower than 2:1 because half the day is night. In theory, as the sunshine per area of ground is sinusoidal through the daylight hours, the lowest theoretical ratio is about 2.42 : 1 at the equator if you had perfect weather every day, and worse elsewhere.

But that's not accounting for the fact that the silicon panels themselves have reduced efficiency when the sun is off-center from the panel, which further reduces the average output for fixed installations. The effect is doubled when the sun is off-center on two axis, similiarily to how the picture of a cheap LCD panel changes when you look at it from different directions, which is why the effect is worse away from the equator where the sun doesn't travel straight over the sky.

Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2013
Eikka, I'm not currently aware of anyone who says "la la" or anyone who appears blissfully unaware of the general shortcomings of power generation, regardless of form.


Then why is the media ominously quiet about the whole thing, and why do all the news articles keep repeating the view that I set out to debunk here?

In practice and personal experience, I find that most people who talk about renewable energy have almost no idea of how it actually works. People lack a sense of scale, and the general understanding of how things like power grids work.

An intelligent grid would allow power to route to where it is needed


But here the problem is the power that is not needed at the moment. Where do you put that? The routing issue has traditionally been to get more power, because you've always been able to turn it off when not needed. With renewable energy, you no longer have that capability: you either use it, or lose it, and you don't get to choose when.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2013
Human use patterns are nearly as erratic as renewable production patterns


No. They really aren't.

Seriously. Google your local power company / grid operator / etc. website and see the data they provide. Usually they have nice graphs about the daily variation in production and demand, and it's quite regular and cyclical most of the time. Much of the demand is completely steady throughout months and years, and the daily variation is just a small portion of the total demand.

For example: http://origin-ars...gr17.jpg

Notice that the vertical scale starts from 2 and not 0.
Gmr
4 / 5 (1) Aug 17, 2013
What you appear to be arguing against is sensationalist media. People who want eyes generate controversy and disproportionate enthusiasm. However, this ends up being short-lived as eventually people tire of the controversy/breathless optimism when neither appears to jibe with reality.

I'm not a power source expert by any stretch, but I knew that solar goes largely wasted, as does peak wind whenever it is available, and now serves mostly to supplement more steady supplies of power.

Power storage for sources like wind and solar is an ongoing problem. This is not an argument to call off pursuit of this as a power source. This is an argument for a more intelligent grid, one that actually spans the day-to-night side, and can store power for when it's needed later. If nothing else, you could simply hook the solar and wind up to a water pump to feed a hydroelectric source.
hopper
1 / 5 (3) Aug 17, 2013
If this battery could be adopted for the Tesla automobile, the Musk might be able to deliver the 30 K electric car by 2016.

imho wind and solar only have about 10 years to get their prices & complexities down before 4th generation portable nuclear --especially lftr designed--power plants chop the legs out from under the wind/solar model ....except in distant off grid locations.
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
What you appear to be arguing against is sensationalist media.


That's what I stated in the first place.

I knew that solar goes largely wasted, as does peak wind whenever it is available


They don't, and that's the problem.

All the countries that build them also implement a force feed policy to push the energy into the grid no matter what comes, because so much of the energy from these sources comes from these intermittent peaks. Wind power, statistically, produces half its output energy in just 15% of the running hours, so tossing that away would instantly double the cost of wind power!
djr
5 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
Eikka: "The issue is that people who advocate these forms of energy go "la la" when you point out any of the practical problems that will bite you on the ass sooner or later."

Think about the current power paradigm. A community uses x amount of electricity at 2:00 am when the temp outside is 65 degrees f. But at 2:00 pm when it is 100 degrees, they use 20x. So we have to build out the generating capacity of 20x, and all that surplus capacity sits idle at 2:00 am. Eikka does not hand wring about the inefficiency of this system.

So what is happening now - is that we are introducing a percentage of renewable energy on to this system, and learning how we can integrate these intermittent sources. The engineers working on the issue tell us that we seem to be able to integrate about 30% at this point without encountering too serious a problem. Understand the old system is very inefficient - we allow large quantities of surplus capacity to sit idle. The down side - cont.
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
This is an argument for a more intelligent grid, one that actually spans the day-to-night side, and can store power


The intelligence is not the problem. That we can do. The scale of energy storage is.

And that's what I set out to debunk. The media perpetuates the idea that renewable energy is a matter of having a couple of batteries in a closet like a computer UPS that kicks in sometimes when the demand is up. They simply ignore the true scale of the issue.

Ask people who actually live off the grid and produce their energy with wind and solar, and store it in batteries. Surprise surprise, they run most of their energy needs such as refridgeration, hot water, cooking, heating, on propane because the electricity they get and are able to store at reasonable cost is barely enough to keep the lights on.

Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
Think about the current power paradigm. A community uses x amount of electricity at 2:00 am when the temp outside is 65 degrees f. But at 2:00 pm when it is 100 degrees, they use 20x.


They don't.

As I said, check the actual data. Your power company provides it. Typically the daily load variation is about 20-30% of the total demand. The majority of the demand comes from things like factories running on three shifts, or the more north you go, the less the daily variation becomes due to heating needs being roughly evenly distributed throughout the day.

Eikka does not hand wring about the inefficiency of this system.


I don't, because the system as you're describing it doesn't exist.

This is what I mean when I say most people I see talking about renewable energy have no idea how renewable energy, or things like power grids, work.

To give you an inkling: one 25 pound propane tank is worth about 130 car batteries. The fuel contains that much more energy.
djr
5 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
cont. it is more of a challenge to match supply and demand. The up side - reduced pollution, reduced cost, tapping an infinite supply of energy, predictability of costs (what is the price of methane next year?), distributed system - making the whole system more robust.

In time the engineers assure us that with more time - they will be able to develop a system that is more robust, cheaper, and virtually eliminates pollution, and green house gas emissions.

At this early stage in the game - countries like Denmark are able to run with about 40% renewables. http://cleantechn...centage/ In time - with load balancing, multiple source generation, smart grid, long distance transmission, distributed generation, and storage, we will accomplish 100%. Eikka is the one going lalalalalala.
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
countries like Denmark are able to run with about 40% renewables.


Denmark in particular exports nearly all of its renewable energy because they can't directly utilize it. Then they buy back power from Norway and Germany at a much higher cost.

They're running on renewables only on paper.

The major problem with this is, that the exports are below cost because they have to dump the power somewhere, but the wind power companies are still making money on the guaranteed subsidies, so they're essentially shoveling money out of the country.
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
The reason why Denmark is able to deal with such high proportion of wind energy is because it's a country of roughly 6 million people, living next to countries with 100 million people in total. Their energy use is barely a blip on the radar as compared to Germany, Norway and Sweden, so they can push and pull power from the nordic grid as much as they need.

djr
4 / 5 (4) Aug 18, 2013
Typically the daily load variation is about 20-30% of the total demand

This is not true for a large portion of the U.S. - where A/C load is the lions share of the electrical demand. What is the load variation from summer to winter? Why do you think OG and E (my utility) is charging 66cents a Kwh, at peak hours, and 5 cents a Kwh off hours? They are facing the possibility of having to build out large new power sources if they can't flatten out their demand curve.

"Denmark in particular exports nearly all of its renewable energy" My sources say they currently integrate about 28% wind power onto their grid. They have a goal of 100% renewables by 2050 http://denmark.dk...-energy/ They are an example of what is possible - we will see a 100% renewable world - I hope in my life time. Sharing power with neighboring countries is an example of the changes happening.
djr
4 / 5 (4) Aug 18, 2013
The reason why Denmark is able to deal with such high proportion of wind energy is because it's a country of roughly 6 million people, living next to countries with 100 million

And Germany is a country of 81 million - and they went from 6% renewables in 2000, to 25% in 2012. http://en.wikiped..._Germany Follow that curve up and see where it goes.

Europe has a plan on the table to develop 100 percent renewables by 2050. http://www.rethin...inal.pdf

These are engineers in the field developing these plans. Do you think they don't understand the problem of supply and demand matching? Or maybe they understand that it is still very early days - these problems are solvable in time - and a better world awaits us.
rsklyar
1 / 5 (3) Aug 18, 2013
Beware that some other MIT "researchers" have already stole in Nature journals and, with further support of the Harvard's ones, in ASC Nano Lett both the ideas and money of taxpayers. There are numerous swindlers from David H. Koch Inst. for Integrative Cancer Research and Dept of Chem Eng, also with Dept of Chemistry and Chem. Biology and School of Eng and Applied Science of Harvard University at http://issuu.com/...vard_mit .
Their plagiaristic "masterpieces" titled Macroporous nanowire nanoelectronic scaffolds for synthetic tissues (DOI: 10.1038/NMAT3404) and Outside Looking In: Nanotube Transistor Intracellular Sensors (dx.doi.org/10.1021/nl301623p) were funded by NIH Director's Pioneer Award (1DP1OD003900) and a McKnight Foundation Technological Innovations in Neurosc Award, also a Biotechnology Research Endowment from the Dep. of Anesthesiology at Children's Hospital Boston and NIH grant GM073626, DE013023, and DE016516.
Eikka
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 18, 2013
And Germany is a country of 81 million - and they went from 6% renewables in 2000, to 25% in 2012. Follow that curve up and see where it goes.


They've essentially ran into a wall with their ability to integrate any more renewable energy. The peak production capability is already at the limit of what their own grid can absorb if they turn everything else off, and since they can't actually turn everything else off, they too export the power everywere else.

These are engineers in the field developing these plans. Do you think they don't understand the problem of supply and demand matching?


They do, but it's simply not their problem. Because of the policies in place, the company building and operating a wind park doesn't have to mind the grid instability it causes, and the private individuals installing home PV don't understand the problem.

Both are happy as long as the subsidies keep coming. The grid operator companies on the other hand are not.
Eikka
1 / 5 (3) Aug 18, 2013
This is not true for a large portion of the U.S. - where A/C load is the lions share of the electrical demand.


Large portions in terms of land, but not in terms of population. Most of the US lives up north and on the east, instead of down in Texas.

Ironically, wind power in California and Texas has the consistent and unfortunate habit of producing energy at completely the wrong time of day: http://www.instit...tput.png

And from the graph we can also see that the daily load variation is about 40% of the peak demand. Not in the 20-30% range that I estimated, but not too far from it. The majority of the demand is still stable, which was the point.
Eikka
1 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
Here's the full article: http://www.instit...at-wave/

What is the load variation from summer to winter?


You'd have to check that from your local power co.'s website. Again, they usually provide ample data.

They are an example of what is possible - we will see a 100% renewable world - I hope in my life time. Sharing power with neighboring countries is an example of the changes happening.


Sharing power with neighboring countries is what's always been happening. The problem here is, what happens when the neighboring countries also build renewables and you run out of places to export your surplus and import your shortfall from?

That's the main issue, and why massive grid scale energy storage is the keystone to this problem. Without it, the whole thing - the import/export "virtual battery" - is just a house of cards waiting to fall.
djr
5 / 5 (2) Aug 18, 2013
"Here's the full article: http://www.instit...at-wave/"

Good article - thanks. What do you think that graph would look like if you supplied the renewable power with PV? Try it with solar plants with molten salt storage. What you are clearly not willing to recognize is that we are on the leading edge of this revolution. Yes there is much work left to do. We are probably talking about a 100 year process. And we have no idea what will happen if a game changer comes along like cheap modular nuclear plants - or on the 100 year scale - like fusion. But at this point - the future looks really bright for solar. It is questionable how much cheaper wind can go - but solar still has a lot of efficiency left to wring out of the system. I think $1 a watt - installed - within 20 years - is very conservative.
RealScience
not rated yet Aug 18, 2013
Very clever use of laminar flow to eliminate the needs for the membrane.

But hydrogen and bromine???
Hydrogen is hard to store, bromine is corrosive and toxic, and hydrobromic acid is roughly as corrosive as hydrochloric acid.

Just because elemental bromine is cheap doesn't make it good to use for something where there will be many many tons sitting around.
Uzza
5 / 5 (1) Aug 19, 2013
Europe has a plan on the table to develop 100 percent renewables by 2050.

No. The very first thing in the entire report is the following:

Who is EREC

EREC, the European Renewable Energy Council, is the umbrella organisation of the major European renewable energy industry, trade and research associations active in the field of photovoltaics, small hydropower, solar thermal, bioenergy, ocean & marine, geothermal, wind energy, and solar thermal electricity. It represents an industry with an annual turnover of more than €70 billion and with more than 550,000 employees.

So no, Europe does not have a plan of 100% in 2050.
Howhot
1 / 5 (1) Aug 22, 2013
Very clever use of laminar flow to eliminate the needs for the membrane.

Indeed, I know a Professor of microfluidics who has been doing this for the past 4 years (not MIT btw.). It's very doable, but external vibrations and contact electrode design issues and layering are the main technical challenges. But I agree, way cool work.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Aug 23, 2013
but external vibrations and contact electrode design issues and layering are the main technical challenges

The interesting thing is that when you miniaturize a system vibration becomes much less of an issue (halve the size of a system in each dimension and it becomes less sensitive to vibration by a factor of 8). Also contact forces become much more dominant, Electrostatic and even vanDerWaals forces start to play a significant role in MEMS. Both of these effects could help if the actual 'contact areas' between the substances were to be made small and massively parallel.
djr
5 / 5 (1) Aug 23, 2013
Uzza: "So no, Europe does not have a plan of 100% in 2050."

Ahhh - the ministry of splitting hairs is still alive and well. I will rephrase - some folks in Europe have a plan on the table that would see 100 renewables by 2050.

Missing of course the actual point - which is that there are people in the world with the vision and creativity to understand the potential of renewable energy to supply all of our energy needs many times over.

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