Stanford's battery-life research steps into economy class

October 25, 2012 by Nancy Owano, weblog

(—Looking for better battery designs and solutions is a priority pursuit for many scientists, and the Batteries for Advanced Transportation Technologies (BATT) Program is always on the lookout for worthy contributions. Supported by the U.S. Department of Energy and managed by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, BATT is a leader in U.S. research in battery solutions for electric vehicles. They have not missed the fact that Prof. Yi Cui, Associate Professor, Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, has been leading a team that is coming up with new answers for energy storage.

"Several fundamental studies still need to be conducted to develop viable Si electrodes for batteries," BATT has written in the past. "Yi Cui's group at Stanford University is working on understanding the properties of various Si nanostructures and is designing new ones based on particles and wires that target improving Si cyclability."

BATT has recognized an important issue addressed by Cui, the conductivity of Si electrodes. "The of Si is a major factor in determining the power and energy capabilities of an electrode that does not contain inactive materials such as conductive additives and binder. Future work in the Cui group will focus on designing new Si structures and pre-lithiation methods that are amenable to scale up so that large quantities of this can be made at a low cost. Fundamental questions such as the best morphology for electrode packing, the type of for improving cyclability, and the optimal state of charge for these electrodes still need to be answered."

This month, Prof. Yi Cui and his Stanford team offer more answers in a newly published paper appearing in the journal Nature Communications. To compensate for fluctuating renewables in wind and solar systems, new approaches to storage are needed and Cui's team present a that works when the sun or wind falls short, in the form of sharp drop-offs of wind and solar systems. The battery electrodes can run for a thousand charge cycles without degrading, an advancement when typically the electrodes degrade with time.

As New Scientist translates, the secret sauce in their battery prototype involves the negatively charged cathode coating in copper hexacyanoferrate and an anode made of activated carbon and a conductive polymer. The compounds allow electricity-carrying ions to move in and out easily.

"We demonstrate a new type of safe, fast, inexpensive, long-life aqueous electrolyte battery, which relies on the insertion of potassium ions into a copper hexacyanoferrate cathode and a novel activated carbon/polypyrrole hybrid anode. The cathode reacts rapidly with very little hysteresis. The hybrid anode uses an electrochemically active additive to tune its potential. This high-rate, high-efficiency cell has a 95% round-trip energy efficiency when cycled at a 5C rate, and a 79% energy efficiency at 50C. It also has zero-capacity loss after 1,000 deep-discharge cycles."

As important to the design is the cost factor. A key stumbling block in the search for answers in rests in viability. Many solutions are promising in the lab but present daunting costs that are eventually branded as impractical. No existing energy storage technology, the Cui team said, can economically provide the power, cycle life and energy efficiency needed to respond to the costly short-term transients that arise from renewables and other aspects of grid operation.

"Virtually all of the energy-storage capacity currently on the grid is provided by pumped hydroelectric power, which requires an immense capital investment, is location-dependent and suffers from low energy efficiency," according to the authors. They said that their battery's components are cheap and commercially available.

via … d-scale-battery.html

Explore further: Battery electrode's 40,000 charge cycles look promising for grid storage

More information: Nature Communications 3, Article number: 1149 doi:10.1038/ncomms2139

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1 / 5 (2) Oct 26, 2012
Another example of wasting tax payer's money by DOE. Stanford is a top rated research institution. They do exceptional research. However, per this article, DOE is funding fundamental research on Batteries instead of funding the commercialization of patented and established ones, like PbC batteries by Axion Power International. This shows how stuffed the government scientists and administrators are. By appropriating money to Standford to find ways to circumvent a patented technology. I surely would hate to see my tax money wasted on somebody's ego.
not rated yet Nov 10, 2012
Hi All,

Innovators with breakthrough technology finally meet the scale and efficiency requirements of grid level energy storage. For the first time last year, investment in renewable energy infrastructure was higher than in fossil fuel infrastructure. With grid-scale energy storage, intermittent sources of renewable energy, such as wind and solar, become viable for the grid. VLAB will examine the technology and economics to make this transformation possible.

Join us on the 13th at Stanford to discuss Grid Energy Storage. Click on the link to register online!

www vlab . org

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