Researchers use super-high pressures to create super battery

Jul 04, 2010
Washington State University chemist Choong-Shik Yoo, seen here with students, has used super-high pressures to create a compact, never-before-seen material capable of storing vast amounts of energy. Credit: Washington State University

The world's biggest Roman candle has got nothing on this. Using super-high pressures similar to those found deep in the Earth or on a giant planet, Washington State University researchers have created a compact, never-before-seen material capable of storing vast amounts of energy.

"If you think about it, it is the most condensed form of storage outside of nuclear energy," says Choong-Shik Yoo, a WSU chemistry professor and lead author of results published in the journal Nature Chemistry.

The research is basic science, but Yoo says it shows it is possible to store into the of a material with such strong . Possible future applications include creating a new class of energetic materials or fuels, an , super-oxidizing materials for destroying chemical and biological agents, and high-temperature superconductors.

The researchers created the material on the Pullman campus in a diamond anvil cell, a small, two-inch by three-inch-diameter device capable of producing extremely high pressures in a small space. The cell contained xenon difluoride (XeF2), a white crystal used to etch silicon conductors, squeezed between two small diamond anvils.

At normal atmospheric pressure, the material's molecules stay relatively far apart from each other. But as researchers increased the pressure inside the chamber, the material became a two-dimensional graphite-like semiconductor. The researchers eventually increased the pressure to more than a million atmospheres, comparable to what would be found halfway to the center of the earth.

All this "squeezing," as Yoo calls it, forced the molecules to make tightly bound three-dimensional metallic "network structures." In the process, the huge amount of mechanical energy of compression was stored as chemical energy in the molecules' bonds.

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Simonsez
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
This could be the wave of the near future; I wonder how practical is the technology in terms of cost vs. reward? Not to mention the enormous cost of retrofitting commonly-used battery-intensive devices to accept these types of batteries.
TabulaMentis
1.9 / 5 (8) Jul 04, 2010
For years I have been wondering when batteries were going to become extremely dangerous. It appears we are now beginning to enter that stage of technology.
Jigga
2.6 / 5 (8) Jul 04, 2010
Well, you can forget to saving energy in form of XeF2 safely. Actually I don't like, when journalists or some scientists are misinforming the layman public in such way.

Such approach maybe makes particular article more interesting temporarily, but from long term perspective it would make layman people hostile toward science, because they're repeatedly promising the things, which can be never realized - just because of science. Such individuals are polluting a good name of science under hope, they will make their research more popular.
axemaster
5 / 5 (6) Jul 04, 2010
So... Does the material remain intact when it's taken out of the high pressure environment? That would seem to be the most important question, yet the article doesn't even mention it.
dirk_bruere
5 / 5 (4) Jul 04, 2010
Can we have some numbers?
grunge
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
I think NASA may like to spend some money on this stuff. After all, NASA is the institute that is willing and need to spend lots of money on energy for their flights in this world.
Question
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 04, 2010
Quote from article: "In the process, the huge amount of mechanical energy of compression was stored as chemical energy in the molecules' bonds."

I would like to know what percentage of this "stored" energy can be usefully retrieved and in what form, heat, electrical, etc.??
Jigga
1 / 5 (2) Jul 04, 2010
..does the material remain intact when it's taken out of the high pressure environment?
I presume it will be explosive in analogy to this stuff:

http://www.nature...321.html
ForFreeMinds
1.3 / 5 (6) Jul 04, 2010
I see no information on how to access the energy. Lacking that, I see no practical use of this.
Jigga
2.6 / 5 (5) Jul 04, 2010
This research is sponsored by DARPA, between others - so I wouldn't expect batteries, rather mines..
Jigga
1 / 5 (2) Jul 04, 2010
BTW By this article xenondifluoride lattice should remain stable up to 50 GPa.

http://www.inform...52373986
otto1923
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
Whats going on with ultra-dense deuterium? I couldnt find much-
Shootist
1.7 / 5 (6) Jul 04, 2010
This research is sponsored by DARPA, between others - so I wouldn't expect batteries, rather mines..


You think too small.
Graeme
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
WE need to have materials that can be compressed, but then stay stable at normally pressures. If the energy density is so high, it would almost certainly be explosive if metastable. Perhaps a high dialectric material like barium titanate, or something piezoelectric could provide a quick electric conversion.
gopher65
not rated yet Jul 04, 2010
TabulaMentis: IIRC, a standard Li-ion laptop battery stores approximately the same amount of energy as a hand grenade. It takes a freaking lot of energy to run a power hungry laptop for 10 hours.

So the time you're waiting for is loooong past.
jimbo92107
5 / 5 (3) Jul 04, 2010
This article is about scientific research, not a developed technology or an engineering project. As such, they have not "created a super battery." A battery is a device that can store and release energy in a controlled manner. This research says nothing about releasing the energy or how the release would be controlled. Inappropriate title.
TabulaMentis
1.2 / 5 (5) Jul 05, 2010
TabulaMentis: IIRC, a standard Li-ion laptop battery stores approximately the same amount of energy as a hand grenade. It takes a freaking lot of energy to run a power hungry laptop for 10 hours.

So the time you're waiting for is loooong past.


Gopher65:
Are you not in a bad mood. Maybe you should have stayed in that hole you crawled out of.
Energy on demand is the safest way to supply power.
AABB
not rated yet Jul 05, 2010
HAH! ZPM, here we come!
Sonhouse
not rated yet Jul 05, 2010
Like some comments say, there were no numbers given as to how much more energy is stored than say, li-ion batteries, nor is there any clue as to how you would go about commercializing this technology considering the diamond cells are very small and any battery made at this point in time would be the size of a grain of salt. What other technology do we have to get 1 million atmosphere pressure in a controlled way with kilogram masses which is what it would take to make an actual useful product? Explosives? Anyone know, anyone at all on the planet, how to get that much pressure on a commercial scale? If not, it's just another laboratory curiosity up there with ozone generators to cure arthritis.
HeloMenelo
1 / 5 (4) Jul 05, 2010
If it is explosive when removed, why not cover it with something that can prevent it's sudden expansion?
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) Jul 05, 2010
This research is sponsored by DARPA, between others - so I wouldn't expect batteries, rather mines..


You think too small.
Yes, think 'pure fusion device'- no nuclear initiator- who needs red mercury?
why not cover it with something that can prevent it's sudden expansion
Like a Bucky ball or nanotube?
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (4) Jul 05, 2010
I personally like H2O power the best. Splitting the hydrogen from oxygen as one needs it sounds like the best way to power devices, vehicles, etc..
Fusion to power cities, homes and factories is my second best choice.
And of course gravity engines for flying machines is my third best choice for the next thousand years or so.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jul 05, 2010
When Otto says 'device' he means weapon. A 'pure' hydrogen bomb without the atom bomb at it's core. A thermonuclear weapon without the need to enrich fissionable materials or fabricate precision shapes out of dangerous metals.

Something fearful and nasty, and within reach of dozens of nations and rogue entities. Organized crime, Mexican drug cartels, yakuza, Somali pirates, afghan warlords, gazans, xians, etc.
SteveL
4 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2010
Even if this is some type of energy storage, the amount of energy required to "store" the energy in this form certainly doesn't seem to be very effecient. I can't envision any partial release of this stored energy. Graeme, Sonhouse and Otto may be correct concerning the type of use for such a method of energy storage, but I don't think the amount of energy would be sufficient for replacing the main fuel for thermonuclear devices. However it may serve either as a compact trigger or ignition component. Or, more likely, as a non-detectable (using current techniques) conventional weapon head or shaped charge.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) Jul 06, 2010
but I don't think the amount of energy would be sufficient for replacing the main fuel for thermonuclear devices.
"If you think about it, it is the most condensed form of energy storage outside of nuclear energy," says Choong-Shik Yoo

People here dont seem to know what this might mean. But the effort to create the stuff might be miniscule compared to its potential as an initiator.
Cross
1 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2010
A hydrogen bomb without an atom bomb at its core wouldn't be much of a bomb, even if you thought that you could set one off easier with exotic chemistry than with lasers or flux compression coils.

Very little explosive energy is actually coming from the fusion reaction (a few percent of the total yield actually comes from fusion). Its "job" is just to make more neutrons that will burn more of the fissile material. So why bother with pure-fusion when you can just use the huge amount of chemical energy stored in your exotic material to make your boom rather than wasting it by turning it into x-rays and neutrons.

otto1923
not rated yet Jul 06, 2010
A hydrogen bomb without an atom bomb at its core wouldn't be much of a bomb, even if you thought that you could set one off easier with exotic chemistry than with lasers or flux compression coils.
"These weapons would be lethal not only because of their explosive force, which could be large compared to bombs based on chemical explosives, but also because of the neutrons they generate. The neutrons may cause substantially more casualties than the explosive blast."
http://en.wikiped...n_weapon
Very little explosive energy is actually coming from the fusion reaction (a few percent of the total yield actually comes from fusion). Its "job" is just to make more neutrons that will burn more of the fissile material.
Are you saying that you think the yield of a fusion device comes mainly from fissile material and not from fusion itself?
Cross
1 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2010
So, wasting energy (that could kill) by making neutrons to kill is an advantage how? This is the old "why don't we have neutron bombs in our arsenal" discussion. Tactically they have almost no advantages over a larger conventional weapon excepting that they leave (some) structures intact.

Weapons are about putting energy into a target. The fewer energy conversions you go through before you get there, the better.

Yes, most of the yield of conventional hydrogen bombs comes from fission of the third stage tamper. You can get arbitrary amounts of fusion yield by staging, but generally nobody bothers except to prove a point. (eg., Tzar bomba was 85% fusion because they left off the tamper)
Cross
1 / 5 (1) Jul 06, 2010
"It has been claimed that it is possible to conceive of a crude, deliverable, pure fusion weapon, using only current day, unclassified technology. The weapon design[1] weighs approximately 3 tonnes, and might have a total yield of approximately 3 tonnes of TNT. "
http://en.wikiped...n_weapon

They should stage this hypothetical device and get 3 kilotons out of a 3 ton weapon.

Either that or its not so easy to do, even if you have a conventional initiator.
otto1923
not rated yet Jul 06, 2010
So, wasting energy (that could kill) by making neutrons to kill is an advantage how?
For terrorists and tech-poor players who want a WMD, like those I listed. It may be easier to build and harder to detect than a nuke.

"However, in the public perception, hydrogen bombs, or H-bombs, are multi-megaton devices a thousand times more powerful than Hiroshima's Little Boy. Such high-yield bombs are actually two-stage thermonuclears, scaled up to the desired yield, with uranium fission, as usual, providing most of their energy."
http://en.wikiped...ear_bomb

-Huh. I did not know this.

"using only current day, unclassified technology"
-I assume this meant chemical, and did not consider the material in the article.
StandingBear
1 / 5 (2) Jul 09, 2010
Now maybe a laser rifle is possible powered by these batteries....think of it! and with speed of light processors and room temperature..or space temperature superconduction tech as well. We already have the lasers, just need power. Now we have power, and with superconduction comes efficiency and compact weapons of greater power for the infantryman.
Trim
not rated yet Jul 10, 2010
Just a thought, if such large amounts of stress energy can be stored maybe lesser forms of energy can be stored in deeply buried materials like palladium, if so it might help explain the so called cold fusion heat anomaly.
Jigga
1.8 / 5 (5) Jul 10, 2010
You're right - if these guys are claiming, this highly compressed material stores so huge amount of energy (10 eV/atom or 100 KJ/mol) - it would violate the scale of binding energies available for common chemical bonds. It would initiate whole new submolecular chemistry. But I've still no details about this work and its termochemical data.

Note that some theories of cold fusion and/or hydrino theory are claiming the existence of sub-quantum energy scale for chemistry occurring in surface cavities, shielded against virtual photons from vacuum.
Jigga
1 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2010
Mr. Yoo was kind enough to answer an e-mail:

"It stores a large mechanical energy (PdV; huge P and dV) into a chemical bond energy (a few eV per Å; or 10-50 eV/nm)..As for the efficiency of such device is a bit premature to estimate."
Shootist
1 / 5 (4) Jul 11, 2010
I personally like H2O power the best. Splitting the hydrogen from oxygen as one needs it sounds like the best way to power devices, vehicles, etc..
Fusion to power cities, homes and factories is my second best choice.
And of course gravity engines for flying machines is my third best choice for the next thousand years or so.


Your tomorrow, powered by Fairie Dust and Unicorn Farts.

There are no hydrogen mines.
antialias
not rated yet Jul 11, 2010
I can't envision any partial release of this stored energy.
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Then think of 'full release' of small samples at a time.
If it is explosive when removed, why not cover it with something that can prevent it's sudden expansion?

Is it explosive? Lots of materials when compressed do not explode when uncompressed (e.g. diamonds)

If the energy is 'stroed' in the bonds then I'd hazard that this stuff does not explode once taken out of the anvil.

For years I have been wondering when batteries were going to become extremely dangerous.

This is not a matter of batteries - this is an issue for all forms of energy storage. Wh/m^3 that's what it boils down to. If that number is the same the the danger is equal for chemical fuels, capacitors or batterise since the release will do the same amount of damage (aside from any extra chemical peculiarities like acidity or somesuch)
TabulaMentis
1 / 5 (2) Jul 11, 2010
Shootist:

RE: Your tomorrow, powered by Fairie Dust and Unicorn Farts. There are no hydrogen mines.

So then what is your answer Shootist; Highly compressed electric batteries?

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