Oct 04

IBM Launches 500 Mile Range Battery Development Project

 

IBM has a long history of putting its brainpower behind projects of significant societal importance.

Apparently they have chosen to focus a new endeavor on the electric car.

The so-called “Battery 500″ project is staffed by a consortium of the nation’s leading scientists and engineers, and the inaugural meeting kicked off last week in California.

IBM believes that the current target range of electric cars from 40 to 100 miles is too limiting and the focus of the group is to develop a 500 mile range practical electric car battery.

“Batteries technology has improved, but is still far inferior to gasoline in terms of how much energy they hold,” said Spike Narayan, an IBM scientist. “The energy density—which is the amount of energy a lithium-ion battery stores per unit weight—is really not enough to produce a family-sized sedan with a 300- to 500-mile range.”

The group has particularly focused on the lithium-air battery as the best option. The lithium-air battery isn’t sealed and uses atmospheric oxygen as the cathode, which flows into the cell as needed. By coupling this chemistry with IBM’s nanoscale manufacturing technologies it is projected that batteries with 10 times the energy density of today’s lithium-ion cells could be produced.

Lithium-air cells have already been demonstrated at the laboratory level, and IBM believes it will take about two years to determine if they can in fact mass produce a 500 mile battery of reasonable size and weight.

Cost may remain an issue as well as fast charging availability; it would take days to recharge a 500 mile battery at household current. Furthermore, if most people drive less than 40 miles per day, carrying around all that range may prove unnecessary.

All of this demonstrates the incredibly exciting flux of ideas and opportunities that the transformation of transportation technology is bringing with it.

Source (Smarter Technology)

This entry was posted on Sunday, October 4th, 2009 at 7:45 am and is filed under Battery, Research. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 150


  1. 1
    nasaman

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (7:57 am)

    Fascinating topic, Lyle! And if IBM can, if effect, combine the nanotechnology-based Anode announced last year by Stanford researchers with an Oxygen (air) Cathode, to achieve a 10:1 increase in energy density, a battery about the size of a traditional car’s lead-acid battery may be possible. An EREV like the Volt would benefit tremendously from a 10:1 smaller, lighter 40-mile battery!!!


  2. 2
    carcus1

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:08 am)

    My current car averages 22 mpg. It has a 16 gallon fuel tank.

    A 100 mile BEV would be the equivalent of waking up every morning with just over 1/4 tank in the car.

    I can deal with that 6 days out of 7.

    On the 7th day, I just take my other car.

    /Point being: we’d all love to see an affordable 500 mile battery in the future — but the technology available today will do the job. We need to start moving off of oil today.


  3. 3
    voltaholic

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:09 am)

    At roughly 12x the range of the volt it would take about 48 hrs to recharge at 220v given the same volt weight. Maybe swappable batteries would be practical for this application.


  4. 4
    Van

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:12 am)

    Since real world, 70 MPH with AC on mileage is likely to be about 3.5 miles per kWh, having a lighter battery with 15 kwhs available, about 22 total,is where the Volt needs to go in subsequent generations. With a lighter battery and say a 200 kw traction motor, it should sell like hotcakes.


  5. 5
    nasaman

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:15 am)

    PS: A 10:1 reduction in Li-Ion physical size & weight would also make such batteries highly attractive for countless other applications such as in homes or offices to store the electricity generated by rooftop solar panels! Of course, as with all new technologies, manufacturing cost will be an extremely critical factor …..and one I’m certain IBM will work hard to control.


  6. 6
    nuclearboy

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:27 am)

    This is great news. Whether or not this specific one succeeds is not critical. The general direction, world wide, is better batteries in the near future.


  7. 7
    Jason M. Hendler

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:34 am)

    This battery would likely find its niche, if only in the military or commercial industry.


  8. 8
    tom

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:43 am)

    Affordable BEVs like the Leaf would be fine to replace at least one fourth of the cars on the road now. An EV with 100 mile range if it costs the same as a comparable ICE and the battery lease costs less then $150 (less than the cost of gas for that comparable ICE that may burn 40 gallons of gas at $4-$5 a gallon.)

    Families with 2 cars and folks with one car that never leave town, these folks will keep Nissan and anyone else committed to mass producing these cars affordably busy building these cars as fast as they can.

    But eventually families with one electric car and wanting to buy a second will need EVs with greater range. It sounds like the solution to greater range may be in place by 2012 (5 years earlier then even I thought and I’m an optimist), the year when EVs start being produced in big numbers.

    I’m sure it would be many years before cars had 500 miles of battery range as the cost makes no sense. But certainly a 200 mile range makes a lot of sense if the cost of the batteries comes down and makes that extra 100 miles of storage cheaper and lighter than carrying around the EREV extra baggage. That would be the end of EREV (200 miles of electric range at comparable or less prices than similar EREV cars).

    Lots of folks have walked about pulling generators, I wonder if these batteries are so affordable in 5 years if it wouldn’t make more sense to have 200 mile range cars but pull a 500 mile battery for extra juice. I like that as it would be like rocket stages. Drive from Cleveland to Yellowstone, stop at any major truckstop every 500 miles and rent another battery trailer and turn in the previous one.

    When you get within your car’s range of your destination you don’t need the extra battery you just charge at your hotel overnight, then on the way back you get on the highways and pick up trailer/generators as you need them.

    At some point if the 500 mile battery is achieved it get a family of 4 on a 4000 mile family vacation to Wally World there and back a lot cheaper than flying and renting cars.


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    SteveK9

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:53 am)

    This could be very important. Despite the decades-long shift into services etc., not many organizations can top IBM’s expertise in Solid State Physics.


  10. 10
    tom

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:58 am)

    I also don’t understand why it would take so long at suitably equipped charging stations to charge the batteries of the future.

    If some battery 10 years in the future lets say was 200kwh but only weighed 200 pounds. Obviously a battery like this would not be charged on the road with a single stream of electrons.

    It would have to be designed so that it contained perhaps 20 modules of 10KWH each, then a suitably designed highway charging station could have 20 streams of electrons to charge those 20 modules. This of course will take much engineering and standardizing but if IBM is right the future may get here a lot sooner than we realize.

    Imagine if we spend a ton of money putting charging infrastrucutres at work places and malls that is never needed because 2014 models all have 200 mile range.

    And will 2012 sales be stunted and totally stopped because in 2012 IBM announces they have a working prototype for 200 pound battery with 200 KWH that they can sell for $10k?

    I remember back in the 80s/90s one of the impediments to buying a new PC was when you buy it, 6 months later you could have a cheaper faster PC.

    Wouldn’t it be something if the next 10 years was like that as different companies/ chemistries competed to make ever better batteries.


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    jwcrim

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:59 am)

    Voltaholic has the right idea.

    To deal with the lengthy charge time for a 500 mile Li-Air battery, use battery stations (“gas stations” w batteries) that just swap your battery in minutes. Use home charging only for small partial charges for short distance charges (i.e. 40 miles).


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    pdt

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:08 am)

    If you look at this video closely where they show the scales with batteries on them:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmHZhBqI500&feature=player_embedded

    You’ll notice that the size of the proposed Li-Air battery is about the same, if not bigger than the current Li-ion battery for roughly the same energy. That’s probably about right. Now take the Leaf battery and make if 5X bigger to get a 500 mile range. There’s no doubt that the lower weight is great but they do not say how Li-air batteries will help the biggest problem, cost, and they gloss over the volume issue.


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    CDAVIS

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:17 am)

    __________________________________________________

    GO IBM!!!

    Thanks Lyle for that post. IBM throwing their hat into the EV battery space is a very significant positive development. IBM has a proven tract record of successfully following through declared research/development projects including often arriving at the finish line ahead of schedule.

    If IBM successfully pulls this off, it will, among other things, be a massive PR score for IBM.

    Best Case Scenario:
    IBM succeeds in their project objective which in turn advances the Electric Car Revolution.

    Worst Case: Scenario
    IBM fails in their project objective but IBM’s declarative entrance into the EV battery space puts additional pressure for quicker advancement on competing EV battery solutions which in turn advances the Electric Car Revolution.
    __________________________________________________


  14. 14
    D.

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:27 am)

    Great idea. Rent the high mileage battery for interstate travel, perhaps with range even greater than 500 mile. Pull it along. Otherwise, standard 200 mile battery would get you where you need to go, mostly, around town in a given day.

    related Question- Wouldn’t the already developed EV1, but with a 30 kwh lithium pack, give us the 200 mile/day range today? Wouldn’t it be semi-affordable? Why will GM not resurrect the EV1?

    Question 2-s -d -t, but Why is US importing the L. cells for the Volt? Why not manufacture them here? thanks


  15. 15
    nasaman

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:27 am)

    Thanks for the link, pdt! You’re right that for equivalent capacities the Li-Air battery is MUCH (~7:1?) lighter in weight but not in size, probably due to the very large air cathode. I would expect IBM to apply nano science here to dramatically reduce the cathode size. And as I imply in my post #1, I wouldn’t be surprised if IBM brought Yi Cui at Stanford, who employed nano-technology to improve the energy density of the Lithium Anode by 10:1, into their research effort. And manufacturing cost will ultimately determine their success or failure.


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    Alex S

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:28 am)

    WOW. Just WOW!
    I was pretty sure at some point the tech companies in the US will start entering other industries, not just the IT industry. It looks like this is a great start.

    If most companies in the Silicon Valley would start entering other industries too, there would be no nation in the world that can compete with the US in those industries.


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    SteveK9

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:33 am)

    Weight and Cost are important, volume MUCH less so.


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    Schmeltz

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:34 am)

    Nasaman:
    Just wondering how feasible the Lithium Air battery is? There isn’t a lot of info. about it on the internet. You would think if IBM is allocating people and resources towards it, there must be some reasonable hope in their eyes that they can work out the technical “stuff” with it. I’ve read that moisture in the air needs to be removed in order to make the battery work to the optimum. And I don’t know much else about the other technical hurdles involved with it.

    To anyone who knows, what do you think the chances are for Lithium Air becoming a viable product to the spec’s. being described here?


  19. 19
    SteveK9

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:35 am)

    For a number of years now, the buzz in VC circles is energy. It’s already happening.


  20. 20
    nasaman

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:46 am)

    As a guy who’s devoted years to the development of long-life batteries for spacecraft applications, I doubt anyone knows what IBM’s chances of developing a viable product are at this time. Clearly, the work is a only science project for the next 2 yrs or so —not an engineering effort to develop a practical, affordable battery. The link below (thanks to pdt from his post #9) is enlightening in this regard….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmHZhBqI500&feature=player_embedded


  21. 21
    Herm

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:49 am)

    I would like to remind everyone that present day lithium batteries are fine for electrifying the US auto fleet. Sure, it would be nice to have 500 mile range and hydrogen gensets but they are not needed.

    How about wireless power transmission to extend range?.. all we would need to do is modify the highways in-between cities, in-city driving could be handled by your regular batteries… an you also have battery swap stations or 10 minute fast charges.. lots of options.

    http://www.allcarselectric.com/blog/1036051_german-firm-says-inductive-road-charging-of-vehicles-only-2-3-years-away


  22. 22
    stas peterson

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:14 am)

    The next generation battery chemistry has been identified by many as being Lithium-Air based batteries. But these chemistries are in their proverbial infancy, and little more than a theoretical exercise now. If this chemistry developed like the Lithium-Ion chemistry did, it would be 15-20 years ago when Li-Ion chemistry was at a similar stage of development when first proposed.

    That is an enormous time from now, assuming the chemistry will indeed prove feasible. There is a recognition that time frames will be shorter now, but still it will take a while for this to happen.

    The reality is that Ground Transport can be at least partially electrified, doing away with exclusive reliance on petroleum, and probably breaking the cartels, and the Oil PRICE crisis, as supply has never really been the problem,but only a potential problem for a few centuries from now.

    An auto fleet comprised of HEVs, PHEVs and EREVS will be more than sufficient to do that task.

    I will like to look forward to the time when gasoline, is produced nearer the genuine cost of production, including comparable profits, like a $1.00 to $1.25 a gallon retail.


  23. 23
    CDAVIS

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:18 am)

    ______________________________________________________
    Tom Said:
    “…charging station could have 20 streams of electrons to charge those 20 modules…”
    ———-

    Bingo!

    Parallel charging is the answer…the power of “divide and conquer “.
    ______________________________________________________


  24. 24
    Dave K.

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:20 am)

    Good move IBM, very smart.

    Now how about making the battery the size of a square table top (4′ X 4′ x 4″). Install the battery by sliding it into a slot located below the drivers side front and rear door space. Just like an IBM memory card.

    =D~


  25. 25
    CorvetteGuy

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:22 am)

    Will the economy improve enough so that average Americans can afford the new technology? I hope so.


  26. 26
    pdt

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:28 am)

    There are many difficult problems to solve to make Li-air work. When talking about Li-air, most people assume they will use a lithium metal anode rather than a LiC6 anode used in current lithium batteries. The French company batScap is the only company I know of that is considering a lithium metal anode. That is a challenging problem in a battery that is sealed, let alone a battery that needs to be exposed to flowing air on every part of the cathode (that’s huge number of seals). So, the lithium metal anode with an air cathode is difficult, but that probably pales in in comparison to the challenge of making a high cycle life, high calendar life air cathode. This electrode will be required to catalyze the breaking and formation of O2 and facilitate the deposition and dissolution of Li2O2 many thousands of times. The great thing about current lithium batteries is that the lithium ions have homes in the anode and cathode (in between graphite layers in the anode, and within the crystal structure of a transition metal oxide on the cathode)…they “know” where to go every time at the atomic scale. The cathode of a lithium air battery that lives up to the expectations being generated will not have such an atomic scale scaffold to provide lithium ions a home. Of course, you also need an electrolyte compatible with air and lithium metal too. Finally, there is the system level problem of delivering clean air to a very high cathode surface area.

    Lithium air is a very, very challenging problem that only has obvious promise for meeting one of the current battery challenges: weight, will not address volume at all, and has very high uncertainties about how it will impact the biggest problem by far: Cost.


  27. 27
    CDAVIS

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:30 am)

    _____________________________________________________
    Litium Air Battery – Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air-fueled_lithium-ion_battery

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_air_battery

    “…This new type has the potential to increase the capacity up to 10 times for the same volume and mass…The manufacturing of air-fueled lithium ion batteries should be cheaper, since the process is free and the carbon component is less expensive than the lithium cobalt oxide used in conventional lithium-ion batteries…”
    _____________________________________________________


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    Slave to OPEC

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:32 am)

    Great news for BEV’s however, if they can eliminate EREV premium costs by developing a 100 mile range battery at 1/5th the cost of current batteries, we’ll see a grand acceptance of the electric automobile.


  29. 29
    Jaime

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:32 am)

    Of course a 500 mile battery is coming. Its just a matter of how long it will take. My guess is about 8 years from now we will have it.

    Although, you never know with technology. Someone could come along and suprise us all with a 1,000 mile battery next year.


  30. 30
    CorvetteGuy

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:37 am)

    I wish someone would have started this project years ago. If this project really has the funding and determination that NASA had in putting a man on the moon, then it will surely succeed.

    Americans always invent the best stuff. The space program gave us Microwave Ovens, Velcro, and Tang (the refreshing orange breakfast drink!)

    I only hope that after they succeed, they have the foresight to keep the manufacturing of this new wonder device here in the USA.

    “Jobs”, people. That is what America needs right now.


  31. 31
    tom

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:40 am)

    I have never thought that the electric cars coming to market will cost money more money. Sure in 2011 there will be early adopters paying more than comparble cars. But in 2012 when companies like nissan start production 150,000 a year of just one model in one plant, the cars have to save money.

    There are certainly 150,000 Americans who can save a lot of money with the leaf. If you drive 60 miles or more round trip to work your car will pay for itself.

    The volt can work for these folks if they can charge at work.
    People will buy these cars to SAVE money.

    By 2012 if gas is $4 or more they won’t be able to make enough of these cars. Problem is GM may not have ramped up enough to bring their costs down enough.

    $64 billion question, GM is designing Gen 2 now, when will they be ready to mass produce that?


  32. 32
    CorvetteGuy

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:40 am)

    And make an adapter card for my Sony laptop. The battery on that sucks.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:41 am)

    Cost is by far the biggest problem. If I could choose between a smaller battery that gave me a fifth seat in the Volt and a lighter battery that gave me longer range, I’d choose the fifth seat.


  34. 34
    pdt

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:48 am)

    If you like that one, you should really like this one:

    http://www.almaden.ibm.com/institute/agenda.shtml

    I especially like Jeff Dahn’s presentation.

    Also, if you look at Tesla’s presentation, they have a list of problems with batteries, which is listed in this order:

    Big
    Heavy
    Expensive
    Short lifespan

    My guess is that the range for them is more limited by space, not weight. Of course, cost is less of an issue for the Tesla Roadster than for the Volt.


  35. 35
    D.

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:51 am)

  36. 36
    Shawn Marshall

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:56 am)

    IntnlBevMotorcompany

    Go IBM – this is some real meat – with impact far beyond cars and cap and trade fiasco.
    This is what the country needs – not political gerrymandering of science.

    Thanks for the encouraging post Dr. Dennis.

    Makes that Mini EV look a little better, does it not?


  37. 37
    pdt

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:56 am)

    The statement on volume is not true and on mass is only true for something so idealized as to be practically unrealizable.


  38. 38
    tom

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:02 am)

    We’ll have a lot more jobs if in 2-3 years we aren’t spending a trillion dollars to import oil. Thats money that needs to stay in our economy. I feel it is a race. Electrify the autmobile before energy costs doom our economy.


  39. 39
    Vincent

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:06 am)

    Great news. These guys are no joke. I was a contractor there for about 5 years doing Reactive Ion Etching….etc…
    This is the perfect environment for this kind of research.


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    Bob G

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:08 am)

    “How about wireless power transmission to extend range?”

    When you consider the huge losses of precious energy and the tremendous expense of building coils into roads, there are far more attractive solutions … like EREV.


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    Luke

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:12 am)

    Except that 220V comes in many many amperages. You can recharge faster, you’ll just need an electrician to help you install a dedicated high-amperage electric-car charger for you (rather than just plugging the charger it in to the dryer outlet).


  42. 42
    EVNow

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:15 am)

    Wow – not seen such an inaccurate post in a long time.

    You need to educate yourself on two things – peak oil and true cost of oil.

    How about $480 a barrel – more like $10 a gallon retail.


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    EVNow

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:20 am)

    If cost is the biggest problem, you could just use old lead batteries. It is cost & weight that is the problem. Afterall the idea is to have longer range and the heavier the car gets, the lower its range.


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    RSBaker

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:22 am)

    No matter how much range they get out of a battery, I for one would still want a Range extender motor like Volt has. When we drive a regular internal combustion engine we always know that it will take only 2 or tree minutes to fill up to to drive care free until the next fill up. I don’t think they’ll be able to get any battery charged in that short a time, so battery only cars will always suffer from range anxiety, even if the range is 300 to 500 miles. A driver will always be worried about where to charge and how much time it would take if they are not at home. I think Nissan with its leaf is seriously underestimating real world range anxiety. Leaf drivers will certainly still need another car. Volt drivers would not.


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    Herm

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:49 am)

    and make sure you put a lock on that..


  46. 46
    RB

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:57 am)

    IBM has many immensely talented engineers and scientists, the experience to work on large projects, the management needed to organize large projects, and the sales experience needed to sell at the CEO and high-government levels. The post makes me think that there is a large government contract either already obtained or to be awarded in the near future.

    It does not necessarily mean that there is an IBM product envisioned in 2 or more years.


  47. 47
    Herm

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:59 am)

    They are claiming 10% losses, regarding the cost..Yes, erev is cheaper since gas is only $2.50 a gallon.

    I still would like a simple all battery car.


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    omnimoeish

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:03 pm)

    A 30kWh battery pack alone would cost about $20,000 (judging by the cost of the Volt’s battery pack) for a range that people would only use a couple of times a year when on vacation. Even then, it would be of little use since there is no quick charging infrastructure if your destination was beyond 200 miles or for when you needed to get back home. People would be better off renting an ICE car. It would be a low selling vehicle to say the least especially if it was crammed in a little two seater like the EV1, not to mention the fact that the EV1 couldn’t hold that many batteries.


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    pdt

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:04 pm)

    Sure if you have a light battery it will give you longer range, but if it doesn’t allow for passengers and cargo, it’s not of much use.

    When I say cost is the biggest problem, I’m saying that current Li-battery performance in terms of weight and volume (and we hope cycle/calendar life) are adequate to build a Volt. If you could choose:

    1) half the cost, same weight and volume ($5000 instead of $10000)
    or
    2) half the volume (5th seat!), same weight and cost (50l instead of 100l)
    or
    3) half the weight, same volume and cost (200lbs instead of 400lbs, or ~6% of vehicle weight)

    what would you choose? I’d choose half the cost, then I’d choose a 5th seat, then I’d choose less weight.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:05 pm)

    Bingo


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:08 pm)

    The thing about the multi-day charge is that you would only use about 40-50 miles a day on average, which you can still charge at night. Then if you were going to go on vacation you would take advantage of quick charging infrastructure which is hopefully around by the time these batteries would ever become mainstream.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:19 pm)

    I fear we are already too late. Our big electronics industry giants like IBM, GE etc. totally dropped the ball on battery research for the last 2 decades or so, and the Federal government, led by George W. Bush, and CARB never thought about EVs, they only offered Hydrogen tax incentives, and so we got FCEVs, but we still have no way to affordably produce nor efficiently transport Hydrogen. Woops. Oh wait, we have no problems doing that with electricity, but now we’ve gotta go back and figure out how to make BEVs.

    In the mean time, Korea and Japan are deeply entrenched in Lithium Ion batteries and consequently we are stuck buying our batteries from them.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:20 pm)

    Exactly, imagine the multiplier effect in the US of saving $1-2 billion a day in fossil fuel costs.


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    Texas

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:21 pm)

    Nice science project but it will fail (not be commercially viable for the vast number of passenger cars) for the following reasons:

    1) Energy density is NOT the biggest problem. Quick-charge, cost and long life are the main problems today. The Tesla proves the range is good enough. Just a 2X improvement (that will come from normal technology improvements) will be good enough for practical passenger vehicles.

    2) They won’t even be building prototypes for 2 years! Everyone knows that most technologies die on the way to mass production. Thus, we have to wait two years just to find out the other problems, like having to filter the air and what the other, real-world issues are.

    3) In 3-4 years, other battery technologies will have advanced enough to prevent large scale investment in the lithium-air battery. It has to be far better than what exists. Will it have fast charging, long life and be inexpensive? Who knows, certainly not the scientists for many more years.

    Again, great science project. Also, it’s great for the researchers that don’t have to make anything real. Just play with their computer models for then next few years. Party time! Man, those guys really are smart! lol.

    P.S. If you really want progress, make up two complete and independent teams (just spit the one team in half). Give milestones and fat bonuses to the team that reaches it first, with real physical models. Treat the leading team much better than you do the trailing team. Just fire up the competitive spirit and you will improve the speed of development my a huge amount. Of course, this is well know, which makes you wonder why they don’t do this. Hummmm.

    ***Repost***


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:22 pm)

    Exactly, let’s say you have 500 miles of range. You can’t drive more than 200 miles or so from home unless you have somewhere to stop for a few days and recharge your 100kWh battery. But maybe with this research we will have an affordable domestic alternative to Asian battery makers for smaller 100 mile range batteries.


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    Frank D

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:23 pm)

    Great news! This Countries brain power will finally focus on important and relevant technologies that effect all our lives.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:24 pm)

    You are cruel!.. scientists are human too


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:28 pm)

    Could it be done with a consumable Li anode that would be replaced (and reused) at refueling time?.. some sort of solid cartridge could be practical… the spent cartridge would be much heavier than a fresh one.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:30 pm)

    Even if you couldn’t charge it rapidly, having that 500 miles available for an emergency would bring considerable peace of mind. It would have to be affordable, though.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:33 pm)

    fast charging can be done, even today.. but I suspect it will have limited commercial success when compared to recharging overnight at home, conveniently and essentially free… people wont bother to do it and even less to pay for it.

    I can see fast chargers at commercial fleet depots for taxis, utility trucks, airports and so on, and even a few on the highways for private BEV, but not widespread like gas stations are today.


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    Herm

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:35 pm)

    The EV1 was a two seater and ugly, it would not have sold even at $15k.


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    Schmeltz

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:39 pm)

    Piece of cake then, what are we waiting for!? LOL!

    Thanks for the post. I figured that there were going to be some big technical hurdles here or everyone would be working on it I suppose. I guess the good news is that they are indeed working on it in earnest.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:43 pm)

    I am glad that companies are considering new ideas to make BEVs more practical, but I think electrified highways and inductive charging will not be competitive. 10% loss is likely an ideal best case number. When you consider how uneven most road surfaces are (especially in winter), it will be hard to keep the car close enough to the road to get decent flux linkage under actual driving conditions.

    I too want a simple BEV, but the state of technology today is such that BEVs are still a niche market.

    The way I see the evolution occurring is: ICE –> Hybrid –> EREV –> BEV. Hybrids and EREVs are practical right now. Batteries will continue to improve (high energy density, fast charge rates, and low cost). Eventually BEVs will attain the same range as today’s ICE vehicles (>300 miles) and quick charge ports will become common at gas stations. For most days (when they drive less than 50 miles), people will “top off” their batteries at home over night.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:47 pm)

    The space program didn’t give us Velcro or Tang. I’ve never seen microwave ovens claimed before, but I’m doubtful.


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    Reality

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:52 pm)

    This should have been farmed out to them from day one. instead you have some Overseas douche bags trying to control battery prices for the next 5 to ten years and revenue leaving the US.
    LG plant here on US soil or not…at the end of the day profits are deposited in their countries banks.

    Employees given jobs here or not…that’s only half of it….screw the new acceptable standard of “well its giving American workers jobs”.

    The whole deal should be 100% US. WTF we granted all the money too…
    One stupid decision after another.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (12:52 pm)

    And also consider that most days most people won’t go more than 40 miles, so they can “top off” the battery at home in a few hours at 220 V. To completely charge a battery of this size, a quick charge (or battey swap) station would be a great option.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (1:06 pm)

    Imagine renting a “battery trailer” for long trips, just big enough to provide 300-500 miles of driving and a space to haul extra stuff for the trip. Pick it up at the local U-haul and plug it in a receptacle at the back. Use it to power stuff while camping, etc.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (1:38 pm)

    Also, thanks for the post.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (1:38 pm)

    It’s hard for some people to see all of the costs associated with oil. Of course, the costs of exploration, drilling, refining, and transportation are easy to measure. But it’s harder to measure the environmental, national security, and economic costs associated with consuming oil.

    We are already seeing damage from the mega storms, and there is more to come as the planet heats up. The difference between Osama Bin Laden and most other wannabe terrorists is money. If there wasn’t so much oil money in the middle East, the terrorists there couldn’t afford to be so dangerous (nor would they have incentive be so upset about Westerners “meddling” in their affairs), and we wouldn’t need to spend so much money (and lives) on military operations to secure the area. Finally, importing far more than we export has meant that our capital (corporations, land, etc.) is being purchased by foreigners.

    While I am not a big fan of government intervention in the markets, I do think the government has a responsibility to ensure that corporations cannot externalize their costs at someone else’s expense. So, I would definitely be in favor of an oil tax to offset the costs to FEMA, NIH, DOD, etc., provided that it is accompanied by equal tax reductions elsewhere (i.e., revenue neutral).


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (1:40 pm)

    Hey man, easy on the scientists. I’m an engineer myself (so I take the research of scientists and put it to practical use on the field), but none of the technology we have today would be possible without scientists. And it looks like they are already done with the lab stage. They will now explore feasibility of practical use, which means in two years they should have a good idea if they can mass produce this technology (which if they can, then they can start immediately working on getting it to market).

    By our current improvement cycle with lithium batteries, it is true we will can reach 2x improvement in under 10 years (in real practically I suppose 2x is already “good enough”), but it would still be nice to have that jump to 10x improvement. That’s what happened when nimh and li-ion batteries were first introduced.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (1:56 pm)

    Current ideas around lithium air all have lithium moving from the anode to the cathode, forming Li2O2 or Li2O. So, if you want to replace the anode, you also need to remove the Li2O2 or Li2O from the cathode.

    There is a proposal from someone in Japan to do this, but in that case the oxidized lithium is stored in solution on the cathode, which is essentially replacing an intercalation material in current lithium ion cathodes with a solvent, giving up a significant part of the mass advantage and probably doing even worse on volume than current Li batteries.

    Outside of those problems, the format of the anodes are usually very thin in order to get reasonable power, so the problem is to replace a wound or stacked foil of lithium metal. Difficult.

    Finally, the sealing problem for a replaceable anode would be even more of a nightmare than in a electrically rechargeable version.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (1:57 pm)

    To have IBM becoming involved with automotive electrification is really solidly promising to me. You just don’t have IBM making shallow commitments, ever. The other thing about IBM, is that when that vast pool of genius there decides to dedicate itself to something, and tell us so, it is a safe bet that success is already pretty much in sight for them.

    OTOH, where there are limited numbers of advanced technology individuals in any business operation, those whom are tasked with the long-term in-depth technical tasking must be managed so as to prevent burn-out of their creative-problem-solving capabilities (due to few qualified on staff).

    The first thing I look for in training technicians is if they are already “burned-out” and sound like they are awaiting retirement. While I can easily still advance them all, it still comes down to if management (service writing) is savvy enough to not cause “burn-out” once again. (Shops that also sell tires have to be especially careful to keep training going for various reasons, I have found).

    Certainly, there are vast financial sums that could feasibly be captured and cause renewed positive financial economies worldwide with Lithium Air if it is proven practicable.

    But I tend to be delighted that the “great inventive giant”
    IBM,
    has become awakened toward automotive electrification.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (2:07 pm)

    Saying that 40miles battery capacity is sufficient and there is little or no need for larger batteries clearly ignores all commercial uses of vehicles. (try to tell it a taxi driver)


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (2:13 pm)

    The microwave oven is a byproduct of radar technology developed during WWII.

    The Twisted History of the Microwave Oven
    http://www.yesmag.ca/microwave/5.html

    National Electronics Museum (near Baltimore-Washington airport)
    http://www.hem-usa.org/military-radar-research.shtml


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (2:21 pm)

    It is a world economy. If one country goes down, everyone goes down.

    Manufacturing is not the only game in town. America is a leader in high-technology. America is a leader in food production.

    Our best way to keep dollars here is to export our expertise as consultants and chefs to the world. Just because manufactured goods are the highest profile items counted in import/export doesn’t make them the most important commodity. Where is Microsoft’s and IBM’s profit counted? They don’t have all those language packs for nothing.

    If it’s cheaper to import oil, then we import oil. If it’s cheaper to make shoes in India, then we buy them from India. If it’s cheaper to build GM cars in China (and sell them there), then do it. If LG builds batteries for us, then, it’s because they can do it cheaper. Just keep the expertise here to build a Volt.

    Screw those $8/hour jobs. We need $200k/year positions.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (2:21 pm)

    Right now volume is a bigger limiting factor for Tesla than weight, because they are using the shell of the batteries as structural support to reduce weight (however, this might not be as easily done if they go the swapping route).

    They are also using commodity cells, which so far has the best energy density (probably both gravimetric and volumetric) and also benefits from steadily improving price/Wh due to mass production for the consumer electronics industry (the same thing can’t be said for any of the other types of cells being used for EVs, but it is foreseeable that the other types might eventually be cheaper than commodity cells which use cobalt, an expensive raw material).

    As long as the battery pack is ~1000lbs (~500kg) then with current engineering, the battery weight isn’t too much of an issue (most of the BEVs from the EV1 era had batteries of about the same weight). A heavy battery might mean worst range, but not that much worst (GM showed aerodynamics are more important for range than weight). A battery that takes up more space will mean less space for passengers and cargo, which is probably worst than slightly less range (since with BEVs you rarely use the entire range).


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (3:03 pm)

    “It’s a world economy, ….[screw those $8 jobs, give us the $200k jobs . . . ]

    Here’s a fun little exercise for you:

    Q. Go to the linked IBM website and search for a software developer job, first in the United States, then in India. Guess which one has more “opportunity”?

    (A. U.S.: 12 vacancies, India: 51 vacancies)

    Hell, let’s just make it a world government and a world currency, how great would that be? — Well if you’re in the “golden handshake upper management circle” taking advantage of all that $8 (an hour, a day) labor –probably pretty great . . . for a while.

    If the middle class goes away, this country dies. You better wake up and realize that.

    ————–
    https://jobs3.netmedia1.com/cp/search.jsp?region_id=0&continent_id=0&master_bu_id=0&employ_percentage_id=0&function_id=0&category_ext_id=&subcategory_id=0&keywords=engineer&hm_keywords=&new_this_week=false&desired_bu_id=0&desired_product_1_id=0&desired_product_type_id_1=0&desired_product_type_id_2=0&desired_product_type_id_100=0&desired_product_type_id=100&graduate=100&job_start_date_year=0&job_start_date_month=0&job_start_date_day=0&desired_region_id=0&date_posted_year=0&date_posted_month=0&date_posted_day=0&desired_markt_region_id=0&hotjobs=0&mgnpos=0&anylocation=0&employment_type_id=0&travel_percentage_id=-1&ERBP=0&jobcode=&workathome=&posted_within=0&jobmail=null&isd=0&lnl=0&adv=0&t=1254685670558


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (3:10 pm)

    You are looking at short term. Remember, the driving cycle of a plug-in is you plug-in every time your car is parked. And people who have gotten used to driving BEV don’t ever experience “range anxiety”. I think the issue is totally overblown; with an accurate range gauge (which we do have today), you will always be able to plan for your trips and never be left stranded. Range anxiety is esp not an issue if you have 500 miles of range since it gives you so much more options (also allows for a large emergency battery capacity) than the ~100 mile range we have today.

    And it isn’t like there aren’t 10-20 minute chargers already. Sure, it’s only about 80-100 miles of range for in that time frame but it is enough in an emergency, so you will never be stranded.

    Remember, they are already starting to install public charging infrastructure. A 100kWh battery like omnimoeish is saying, can be charged in roughly an 1hr or less with 100+kWh chargers (these are pretty common for forklifts/baggage carriers and have already been used in Hawaii to charge BEVs). So on a road trip, you can charge it in an hour while having lunch somewhere. You can do slower charging when you are sleeping at night. Such a battery will only take a few days to charge if you insist on charging on a 110v outlet, which is a stupid thing to do when there are other options (using a standard 110V outlet is like using a dropper to fill up a gas tank, even a dryer outlet is a lot better). And even if you choose 110V, nothing says you have to charge it fully before you can leave. Just charge it with enough range to reach a faster charging station and you can move on.

    And this isn’t that far away either: the Tesla Model S will have an optional 300 mile battery that will be near 100kWh and will be able to charge in about 45 minute with a special charger.

    Sure, if to look at it today, a BEV will obviously be more limited than a PHEV or EREV, but a bit further in the future when charging infrastructure has been rolled out, I think they can pretty much replace ICE cars if they get affordable (which so far is the biggest problem, not range anxiety but the cost of the batteries/cars).


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (3:18 pm)

    I say, dead ON olde Carcus1!!! Corporate Elite looks at the Earth and just considers the US as mere Earth Dirt from which to base their operations from to make as much money as they can. They will gladly use our sons and daughters to shed blood to protect the base operations of said DIRT base.

    It is way way beyond shameful. Criminal I dare say! Do we have ANY politician to point this out? ANY? NO! When we were, ah, employed in services to build a certain little bridge for the Nipponese we had NO idea that we were in the make to be eventually sold off so that in the future the likes of these corporate and National leaders would thereby profit. We thought our fellow citizens, our NATION, would profit from our sacrifices! Posh!

    Write on American Heritage olde man and of course there is Face Book.

    On second thought Carcus1, there has been a re-bout with the lung infection and Mr. Death sans, sadly, the most fair lasses and has returned with a vengeful sort of way. Oh well. Back in the jungle I had it much much worse.

    Again, dead on target on your pity comments!

    Regards!—Higgins & The Lads


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (3:32 pm)

    Hey WessonHiggins,

    Well, you’re not going to win any marathons with that going on. Sorry about that.

    I was down at a certain Martini Lounge in a certain Land of Sugar the other night. It came to mind later that perhaps we could have shared some conversation over an adult beverage (nice cigar shop next door, but that doesn’t do anything for the running, either/ might not be in your area, but I thought possible, given “Kate’s” career field)


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (3:53 pm)

    About 10 years ago there were two companies with working designs of Zinc-air batteries. Both had consumable zinc and a strategy for refueling the zinc and reprocessing the zinc oxide back into pure zinc fuel. The company on the east coast even ran a test car on 400 mile trip. It all worked. Zinc was cheap. But gas was still cheaper. Both systems also had the infrastucture problem. One of the companies had a “home charger” option where you could have a refrigerator sized machine in your garage to regen fresh zinc pellets. Only downside was maintaining a strong “lye” solution in the battery while it was exposed to air. The co2 in air will react with basic solutions and deactivate them. If anyone wants a long range refuellable electric vehicle right now, that tech is sitting on a shelf waiting for someone to revive it.

    As best I can determine, the two companies were Metallic Power, which seems to be dead now, and ReVolt which is still alive and working on Zinc battery systems.


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    Comcastic

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:04 pm)

    Epic FAIL.

    At least it will be IBMers and not GMers this time.

    I almost forgot to laugh. ROTFLMAO
    :-P


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    Red Hat Gnome

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:07 pm)

    Way before that Miss.


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    The Engineer

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:08 pm)

    I have worked with a few engineers at IBM. They have some good Fellows but most are agenda-driven looking for bucks and not necessarily applying the best technology to solve a problem. Plenty of smaller companies with better engineers can run circles around this bureaucratic machine every minute of the day. woot.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:09 pm)

    No, lead-acid batteries do not solve the cost problem. They have a low initial cost, but their usable life is so short ( about 4000 to 10000 miles) that their replacement cost becomes the single major cost of operation of the vehicle. And that cost is several times as much per mile as gasoline. I have a 300 pound electric motorcycle/scooter that got 4000 miles out of a battery pack that cost $400 dollars to replace. That is 10 cents per mile for a scooter that would cost about 3 cents per mile to operate on gasoline. No, lead won’t fly.


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    Itsy Bitsy Marketshare

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:11 pm)

    Word. Most of IBM’s engineers are not American and don’t live in America. You have been issued the Doofus Of The Day award. Enjoy. ;-)


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    United Nations

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:14 pm)

    I say let the UN take over all world-wide Battery Research. Nobody could do it better. IBM ..ha…we can do better than that.

    U.N. uber alles

    Note to Americans: Git your sorry arses in line and join the World community. You don’t run the world no more you losers.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:18 pm)

    What about a battery “suitcase” that you put in your trunk? Then you can swap it in 60 seconds without a fancy robot.


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    Peter M

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:18 pm)

    I feel alot better IBM is working on lithium air than EEstors ultracaps.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:19 pm)

    Whatabout the average policeman. That guy is putting in more than 40 miles just in search of the elusive donut. We gotta help this joe out. Let’s do it for your local law enforcement professional. A worthy cause for sure. And he need no torque limiter (like the volt has) in his bust-a-thug squad car.

    Bad Boys watchagonna do when they come for you ? Bad Boys…


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:42 pm)

    Texas makes some good points. Given that scientists are human, then human emotions like competition (fear of getting beaten) can speed things up dramatically. After all, that’s how we got to the moon.

    And lets not forget that manufacturing engineers also play a huge role in how much the battery will cost. Once Li/Ion EV/EREV batteries go into high quantity production, we will likely see cost reductions nobody has thought of before.

    As for energy density, I don’t think pure BEVs will catch on, so 40 miles is enough. If batteries were much smaller and cheaper, 80 miles might be nice, but anything more than that is a waste.

    It’s not the battery, but the infrastructure that’s the problem. Fast charging a 500 mile battery in 10 minutes is not safe. If you do the math, you’ll find the amount of power required is ridiculous. Things get vaporized with that much power. Plugging a 500,000 watt cable into a car with rain or snow dripping all over it – that’s insane. And battery swapping won’t work because every car battery will be a little different, to match the needs of the car.

    For these reasons, I believe longer distance driving will require liquid fuels for the foreseeable future, which is why I’m so keen on ethanol.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (4:45 pm)

    Why do we need a 500 mile battery when we can use Ethanol?

    There’s a lot of misinformation about ethanol:

    Ethanol Myth #1: It takes around 1 gallon of oil to produce 1 gallon of Ethanol.
    Reality: This is only for Corn Ethanol. Other sources of Ethanol use little or no fossil fuels.

    Ethanol Myth #2: Ethanol will never be cost effective without subsidies.
    Reality: Raw Ethanol can be produced for around $1/gallon without subsidies. After adding costs for refining, distribution, and markup, Ethanol can be profitable at around $2.50 / gallon. This corresponds to oil prices at around $65/barrel.

    Ethanol Myth #3: Ethanol will affect our food supply.
    Reality: Again, only true for Corn Ethanol. Energy crops can grow in areas that are not viable for raising food crops. Ethanol can also be made from Crop Residue, Municipal Waste, and Forest/Mill biomass.
    http://www.coskata.com/EthanolFeedstockPotential.asp

    Ethanol Myth #4: Energy Crops can’t be viable long-term without fertilizer.
    Reality: After Ethanol is extracted from energy crops, there is a lot of leftover biomass. This leftover substance is perfect for soil remediation.

    Ethanol Myth #5: Gas stations aren’t selling E85 now, so why would they in the future?
    Reality: Today, only a very small percentage of cars on the road can run on E85, so most gas station owners can’t afford to dedicate a pump to E85. A federal mandate that all new cars are FlexFuel would change that in a hurry.

    Ethanol Myth #6: We can never make enough Ethanol to completely replace gasoline, so Ethanol is not viable.
    Reality: The first part may be true. We may never be able to make enough Ethanol to completely replace gasoline. But why would that make Ethanol not viable? If we can replace 35% of our gasoline with Ethanol, and 80% of our gasoline with EREVs, that adds up to 115%, more than enough to completely replace gasoline.

    Ethanol Myth #7: Cellulosic ethanol is not ready. More research needed.
    Reality: Dollar-a-gallon ethanol plant in U.S. operation next year.
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-9928810-54.html
    The only major impediment for scaling up the current methods is volatile gas prices. If gas goes below $2/gallon and stays there for a few months, then any investment in large scale ethanol production would go bankrupt. A gasoline floor tax of $2.50/gallon would solve this easily.

    Bottom line: The combination of EREVs and Ethanol can give us a zero emission solution using our current infrastructure of 110v home outlets and liquid fuel filling stations. What’s not to like?


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    Ole EV Guy

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (5:07 pm)

    I don’t know where you fill your tank, but I have to set in line for about 10 to 15 min. just to get to the pump. The only time I can drive right to the pump is 9 to 11 pm when everyone else is home watching tv. and here in Oregon I still have to wait for the attendant to get around to pumping the stuff.
    I will LOVE the LEAF!


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (5:10 pm)

    tweak the EV1 design and what do you get?…the Loremo EV.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QIZVqYdYyY&feature=PlayList&p=27073C08FF039871&index=30

    first test run, April 14, 2009


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (5:21 pm)

    I don’t really care who does it. Every body just keep working on the problem and some day we (including the U N guy) will all be driving electric.


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    Dan Petit

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (5:23 pm)

    Post Script side note.

    Last week I discussed the idea of a charger junction box be installed by new home builders as an inexpensive way to give the new prospective buyer the EREV/EV charger option.

    Well, during that post, an EE mentioned that the SAE specs called for 4 gauge copper. But that was to be for 70 amp service. The Volt charger at 240 volts ought to be, what, only 8 amps? Should 4 gauge copper still ought to be used to satisfy the standard? (Likely I will anyway, since there’s not a big price difference between 8 gauge 4-conductor and 4 gauge 4-conductor).

    Since I will be replacing the siding on my house in the next few weeks, it would be a good idea at that time to route 4 gauge copper from the main panel next to the outside meter, and take it into the garage, left of center (at, say, 7 feet high for the charger junction box to be safely placed, and, for the 20 foot coiled Volt charger cord to reach the Volt charge port easily from overhead). This, as opposed to just tapping the junction box over into the garage 100 amp breaker panel that is located at the back center of the garage. EE Advice?

    All the final connections at each end will be made by a licensed electrician neighbor up the street, since he will have to deal with the meter when that siding panel behind the meter is replaced anyway.


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    Shock Me

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (5:43 pm)

    Of the three the only one from the space program was Tang and even that was not direct. However there were many products derived from the space program one of which was the huge bump it gave computers. But here’s more:

    http://www.thespaceplace.com/nasa/spinoffs.html


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (5:53 pm)

    they do not say how Li-air batteries will help the biggest problem, cost

    I was under the impression that the main advantage of lithium air batteries was cost. With lithium air you don’t need any materials for the cathode. Since 80% of the cost of the battery is attributable to the raw materials costs, using air for the cathode reduces the needed material for, and hence the cost of, the battery.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (6:00 pm)

    I’m a fan of biofuels, but a couple of points:

    1. The dollar a gallon plant references the cost of refining, not the cost of the fuel. We’re a ways away from even $1 per gallon ethanol, and you have to take into account that you can go 30% further on a gallon of gas than on a gallon of ethanol.

    2. A combustion engine using ethanol results in emissions, it’s just that the carbon emitted is the amount of carbon removed by the biomass.


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    pdt

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (6:54 pm)

    Less material weight does not necessarily mean lower cost. If someone ever does make a lithium-air battery that can work for an EV, we’ll have to see how much it costs based on the materials needed to make it work and the manufacturing process needed to make it.

    The big battle cry for Li-air I’ve heard most often is “lower weight!”


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    carcus1

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (7:54 pm)

    “…and you have to take into account that you can go 30% further on a gallon of gas than on a gallon of ethanol.”
    —————-

    True, . . sort of ….. but then again, maybe not.

    Ethanol does result in lower mpg when used in today’s engines, but ethanol has a higher octane level which would allow for much higher compression and thus better energy efficiency from the fuel burned.

    Ford is working with this characteristic of ethanol to develop the “Bobcat” engine which uses ethanol injection to increase power and fuel efficiency 25 to 30% over regular (non boosted) gasoline engines.

    Sneak Peek! Ford’s “Bobcat” Dual Fuel Engine
    http://news.pickuptrucks.com/2009/06/sneak-peek-ford-bobcat-dual-fuel-engine.html


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    Texas

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:01 pm)

    Dave G, I agreed with your EV post on everything accept the swap, which I feel is a workable concept.

    On your ethanol post, I completely disagree.

    1) The use of arable land is a bad idea, already proven.

    2) If you have leftover to fertilize your crops then you are not using a 2nd generation cellulosic process and thus using food for fuel.

    3) If we already had a near-production process that was running for $1 per gallon and it was a scalable and sustainable concept the entire energy crisis would be solved and no further work would be needed.

    We could tell the Saudis to kiss our butts and start building the ethanol factories. OK, maybe build the factories first and then tell OPEC to kiss our butts.

    Right? Seriously, having a renewable fuel that was not only scalable, didn’t use our arable land and only cost $1 with no petroleum inputs would allow us to hold the biggest party since 1999.

    In reality, we are far from having a proven practical biofuel process. Lots of promise but no proof as yet. Don’t fall for the flashy marketing and calls for funding. It’s not ready, the EROI is not high enough, it’s not free of petroleum inputs and the cost is not low enough. In short, a lot more work needs to be done.


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    Loboc

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:03 pm)

    More protectionist babble.

    It already *is* a world currency. People just don’t realize it yet. This latest crisis has pointed out that the IMF has more power than any government. You could say that there is a world government already (at least financially).

    The Chinese are not going to let world exchange remain based on the dollar for long. Once the dollar is not tied to commodities, China can drop us like the bad debtor we are. Their hands are tied right now because we owe more than we produce. Their dollars would be worthless.

    As far as software developer jobs in India… Check out the salaries before you move there. In most cases, software development that is off-shored is the grunt work. The management and project leadership stays at corporate.

    The middle class won’t go away. The question is will their income go down or up? If we try to compete directly with third-world hourly rates, the US will lose. We need not compete in those spaces (let others fight that one out). We need to compete in the higher salary positions.

    Playing the protectionist card will not work in today’s world economy. The US (or anyone) trying will be left behind. The US could easily become a forced self-contained (and poor) island if we don’t play the current game on the table instead of continued thinking in obsolete cold war terms.

    We are no longer competing for hourly jobs. We lost that fight. We are competing for entire corporations. US corporations had better be world-class and world-scope or we may as well just give up now.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:39 pm)

    If we ship all of our decent paying “grunt jobs” (as you call them) overseas, just what do you suppose everybody’s going to do come monday morning? Are you proposing that all 304 million of us U.S. citizens (or is that North American based citizens of the world) aspire to become international corporate executives and engineering project leads?

    It takes all kinds of education, workers, and skill sets for a country to be truly free and prosperous. If you want to see how nice it is with no middle class, just take a trip to any country south of the Rio Grande and north of the Panama canal (or maybe just to Miami). That’s not the America I grew up in. It’s not the America I want to live in.

    /Sounds like you already went tits up on this.


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    Dave G

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (8:55 pm)

    Your facts on ethanol were true last century, but not now.

    1) We can replace up to 35% of our current gasoline usage without using any farmland at all. The gasification process makes cellulosic ethanol from crop residue, forest/mill waste, municipal waste, and energy crops. This process works right now.

    2) There is no food at all in this process. Energy crops grow on land that is not usable for farming. They’re essentially weeds.
    The leftover biomass after ethanol extraction can be used for soil remediation, which practically eliminates the need for fertilizers. No farmland, no food, up to 35% of our gasoline replaced by ethanol.

    3) The raw ethanol can be produced for $1/gallon. That’s the cost of production. That doesn’t include the costs of transportation, refining into E85, markup for the filling stations, and profit. In order to be profitable, they have to sell E85 for at least $2.50 per gallon. Remember last winter when gas was under $1.50 per gallon? Volatile gas prices kill ethanol investment. Thats the only real problem in scaling up this process. That’s why I keep talking about a floor tax for gasoline or oil. If they set a minimum price of $2.50 per gallon, investments in ethanol and other alternative transportation would rise sharply, and things would start to happen.


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    LRGVProVolt

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:02 pm)

    PolyPlus has already solved the problem. They have developed a protected lithium electrode. It keeps the lithium from being exposed to the water in air. Their website states that “PolyPlus intends to first commercialize non-rechargeable Li/Air and Li/Seawater batteries followed by the introduction of rechargeable Li/Air.”

    The engineering of lithium air batteries is further along than most realize.

    Happy trails to you until we meet again.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:03 pm)

    carcus1,

    I had heard that E85 could actually beat gasoline MPG if the engine was tuned specifically, but this is the first I’ve seen an actual engine that does this.

    Thanks for the link!


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    pdt

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:04 pm)

    The good think about Zn-air is the fact that the reaction products are stored on the anode and the cathode really can be thin since nothing is stored there. The downside is the CO2 reaction issue.


  109. 109
    TEXAS

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:12 pm)

    Really towel head fag. Better look harder. Without us your below shit on the evolutionary line. Go lurk 3rd world country sites…oh yes, thats why your here. Your sorry ass country still sells kidneys.


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    pdt

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:13 pm)

    From the Almaden conference I linked in a separate post:

    This is what polyplus says they have left to do for a rechargeable lithium air battery:

    •Develop thin or wind-able solid electrolyte
    membranes to increase cell surface area
    •Develop electrocatalysts for the non-aqueous
    oxygen electrode
    •Explore non-aqueous electrolytes and
    complexing agents to increase solubility of
    Li2O2
    •Develop suitable electrode microstructures
    for deep reversible cycling of oxygen electrode
    •Demonstrate suitable cycling of lithium
    electrode for traction applications

    Sure, all done.


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    Loboc

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:19 pm)

    Ya better double-check the price difference in that copper. Also, you can’t just lay it in the rafters without being inside some serious metal conduit (like the kind they use for power entrance). Ya wouldn’t want to punch a nail or screw across 70amps! Serious sparkage and death are possible.

    Can you even get 70amp circuit breakers? I’m pretty sure that the main buss-bar tabs where the breakers clip in can’t handle that much. (At least on a normal 200-amp residential entrance.)

    I wouldn’t go over 40 amps using appropriate wire for these and other reasons.

    Disclaimer: Anonymous advice you get on an open forum should be confirmed with a licensed electrician :) Your local electrical code may vary.


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    DonC

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:22 pm)

    Carcus, good point about the octane rating. I had forgotten about that. I was just thinking about the fact that the energy density of gasoline is 32 MJ/L while the energy density of ethanol is only 23.5 MJ/L. So the difference is 25% or 35% depending on whether it’s percentage more or percentage less.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:29 pm)

    I dimly recall that there was also an aluminum-air chemistry which could be physically recharged (replaceable aluminum plates, a water tank, yielding electricity and a drainable product solution (at first, then later an on-board precipitator to generate hydrargrillite granules, reusing the water, was developed. Hydrargrillite would be reprocessed back into aluminum). Whatever happened to that idea?


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:32 pm)

    A small, really lightweight battery might have a future as a UAV power source.


  115. 115
    Sarah Lasker

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:36 pm)

    “(Please freely repost this)

    This funding for the car companies was all “pay to play”, insider, self-dealing. The companies that were turned down had the exact same things in common:
    1. They did not pay hundreds of thousands to buy influence. This is on public record and can be investigation under lobby and cost filings.
    2. They did not make campaign contributions.
    3. Each of the reasons they were told they were turned down were violated with each of the companies that did get money.
    4. They were doing all of the work in the U.S. unlike those who did get the money.
    5. They had a car design and those who got the money were “thinking about doing a car design”.
    6. You could not draw a line from them to a politician or a person who made money or political gain unlike those who did get the money.

    Every one of the people that did get money got the “requirements” of the section 136 law waived or were in direct violation of the intent-of-the-law yet the DOE team for that money used those very same “requirements” to say that they would deny funding to those who had not contributed.

    It was a crooked set of deals and the regulatory, law enforcement and voters need to make some noise about this.”


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:39 pm)

    I’ve heard about the higher energy density as well, but the big advantage has always seemed to be cost. It’s not that the materials for the cathode would weigh less — lighter materials can weigh less than heavier materials — it’s that the only material you need for the cathode is air, which doesn’t cost anything.

    Obviously you need a nano barrier to keep moisture away from the anode but the cost of that could be driven down. The cost of metals just doesn’t drop the same way.


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    LRGVProVolt

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:46 pm)

    Note that Steven Visco, Co-founder, VP Polyplus , spoke on August 27, 2009 at the Scalable Energy Storage: Beyond Lithium Ion
    August 26-27, 2009 Seminar.

    Their PLE solves the problem of water vapor in th air attacking the lithium metal structure.

    http://www.polyplus.com/company.html

    Happy trails to you ’til we meet again.


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    Jackson

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:47 pm)

    New battery chemistries are like acorns planted in the ground. It’ll be a decade or two before you can stand in the shade of a tree which may sprout — if one does.

    Actually, I don’t know how old this approach is, but based on the history of NimH and Li/Ion, we’re realistically looking at more than a decade after the first commercial debut of any new battery chemistry before someone starts talking automotive applications.

    I don’t have anything at all against seeds, but we have to take announcements like this for what they are: beginnings. It will be a long time before we can make any judgements, or assess any competition.


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    Red HHR

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:48 pm)

    Ah, If there is no middle class, who will buy the Volt?


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    Loboc

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:52 pm)

    Basic research is badly needed. Since corporations can no longer afford it (they think), we probably need national labs to get more government funding.

    Good to see IBM has R&D budget for this. There’s a huge pay-off at the end, but, highly risky until then.

    MIT also is doing some good work in the area of lithium batteries.

    Someone will eventually figure it out. BTW, you don’t really need the same energy density as gasoline. Electric motors are 90% efficient and gas motors are 30% efficient.

    I’d rather have a Volt today than a 500-mile BEV in 20 years as would 78% of commuters that drive < 40 miles a day. To us a Volt *is* a BEV most of the time.


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    Oct 4th, 2009 (9:55 pm)

    Thanks for the info, pdt. I wasn’t inferring that its a done deal, just that many didn’t realize that that problem of water vapor in the air has a solution. That there is more development necessary to get to full commercialization is a reality. Apparently IBM believes the Lithium Air battery is the next step to higher density batteries. I saw your link just before checking my email and finding out that you responded to this comment. Sounds like you where at the Almaden conference and attended Steven Visco’s speach.

    I look forward to your comments.

    Happy trails to you ’til we meet again.


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    Herm

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (10:17 pm)

    I believe Volvo also has a production engine that is optimized for ethanol, no mileage penalty at all.


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    jake

     

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    Oct 4th, 2009 (11:19 pm)

    Ethanol (and other biofuels) is always on the back of my mind as a possible way to address short comings of plug-ins. It is a particularly practical situation given it allows us to use most of our existing infrastructure and still have a renewable fleet.

    However, I disagree on your point about BEVs never catching on. Even assuming your prediction about quick charging and swapping is true, BEVs serve perfectly well as second vehicles (primary everyday driver, with a second vehicle for longer trips). 100 mile BEVs might initially undercut EREVs in cost simply due to EREV complexity (further in the future, the battery cost for 60 miles of range might reach lower than the cost of the genset, emissions equipment, and generator for the EREV, a BEV-100 needs only half the cycle life of an EREV-40 and thus less buffer, which also decreases battery cost).

    The main reason why people might not be comfortable with a car that takes longer than 10 minutes to fill is because so far the only way their car can fill is at a station. The thought of having to go to a charging station every week and take longer than 10 minutes (up to hours) to fill is obviously very unpleasant. Once people experience filling up their cars at home, it becomes much less of an issue. You just need a fast enough charging rate that makes roadtrips practical.

    Currently charging rate is about 50-80 miles in 10 minutes with the 100kW quick chargers (ones already in use in Hawaii) with no safety problems (faster charging at 250kW is possible but only Altairnano batteries can handle it so far). Less than 2 hr of charging for 500 miles. A typical driver can travel about 500 miles a day without fatigue and 1000 miles a day if there is a switch to a different driver. (Most of the sites I have seen on roadtrips say it is a bad idea to travel more than 1000 miles a day even when you switch drivers). Less than 4 hrs charging a day shouldn’t be too much of an issue for a road trip (spend the time resting, eating or sleeping). I don’t think a BEV-100 is adequate for roadtrips (needs too much stopping), but a BEV-200 should allow a decent roadtrip experience.


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    Texas

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (3:27 am)

    Dave G,

    Yes, I’m very familiar with 2nd generation biofuels but you said the remaining part of the plant will be left in the soil to keep the soil fertilized. That’s the cellulose!

    Also, we cannot do what you are claiming yet. If we could, we would be working on it at lighting pace! Don’t you think it’s a bit strange that you claim the complete solution to the world’s energy problems yet nobody is doing it at the investment level needed?

    If you were correct, we would be investing hundreds of billions, even trillions to make that happen. Gosh, $1 / gallon ethanol that uses no arable land is completely CO2 neutral, homegrown and can satisfy up to, what did you say, 35% of our needs? Hello?! We wish!

    How about we stay in reality for a bit. We have many biofuel pilot projects going on right now and are waiting for the results after some real-world production volumes and reliable cost analysis of the processes at scale-up.

    I know you hope we are there but the fact is, we are not there yet. Heck, if we had what you said, we would not even bother with EVs. A super cheap renewable biofuel that uses no arable land?! Yes please!


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    Wolfdoctor

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (4:08 am)

    Range anxiety with a 500 mile range? You’re kidding, right?


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    ironcoconut

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (4:38 am)

    Another huge problem with ethanol is that you can’t transport it cheaply. You can ship gasoline and other petroleum products through pipelines, but you can’t ship ethanol this way b/c the water that leaks into the pipes can’t be easily separated from the ethanol when it comes out the other end. You either have to make it near where you use it or transport it by truck or rebuild the entire pipeline infrastructure in the US.

    Add up all the other problems with ethanol listed here, and you really don’t have a very good solution.

    The simple fact is that electricity and gas are our best bet in the short term.

    Dave G –> I think our engineers can figure out how to design a 500k watt cable that any person can use to fast charge their car. Those guys are pretty clever after all.


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    Dave K

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (4:53 am)

    Volt with the pre Euro hood.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqNfkHpsmuc

    =D~


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    Rashiid Amul

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (5:26 am)

    Since I am really interested in longer range, I am happy to see someone set a goal of 500 miles per charge.


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    pdt

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (6:09 am)

    The cathode will still require some sort of catalyst for the O2 splitting and recombination reactions, some kind of current distributor, a scaffold for the reaction products, electrolyte to move Li-ions to the reaction sites with oxygen, and a structure to define the air pathway through the cathode. It’s kind of like a PEMS fuel cell in many ways. Those aren’t cheap.


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    Oct 5th, 2009 (6:30 am)

    I’m a pretty clever engineer, and I think it can’t be done. Connecting a 1/2 megawatt cable to your car is inherantly dangerous.


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    Oct 5th, 2009 (6:42 am)

    Dollar-a-gallon ethanol plant in U.S. operation next year
    http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-9928810-54.html

    Note that GM is investing in 2 ethanol companies, and this is one of them.


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    Dave G

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (7:04 am)

    As for transporting liquid fuel through pipelines, two points:

    1) The oil and gasoline pipeline infrastructure we have now is all oriented toward importing foreign oil. Massive oil refineries are established on the coasts were oil is imported, and then pipelines move refined fuel into central parts of the country. Since ethanol would be produced more locally there would be much less need for pipelines.

    2) If ethanol pipelines are needed, you can simply line them with stainless steel, plastic, or something else that prevents corrosion. Not a problem.

    As for the other problems with ethanol you mention, they are all myths that I have addressed above. Up to 35% of our gasoline can be replaced by ethanol, without using any farmland, using a process we have today, profitable at $2.50 per gallon.

    If gas prices were guaranteed to stay at $2.50 per gallon or above, investments in scaling up ethanol plants would increase dramatically. By the way, a minimum gas price would also dramatically increase investments in other forms of alternative transportation (e.g. batteries).


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    Jay

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (7:17 am)

    Well since IBM has been a major innovator in Photovoltaic Cells it would seam only natural that they would do so with a new type of storage battery. IBM brings unique skills from our vast experience in semiconductors and nanotechnology to this type of project and they usually have done their homework before they start talking about it. Do some research into what IBM has done to date with photovoltaics and you will see they know a little bit about the subject dummies. When you develop and build electrical devices and have large amounts of research capabilities you don’t go off on a what-if scenario very often and you sure don’t run your mouth about it unless you are a blogger who just like to show your stupidity.


  134. 134
    Lwesson

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (8:46 am)

    Today 12 miles to run. The cough dovetails nicely in my Doc Holiday impersonation that Jana/Kate and I do at the BBQ Cookoff during the Houston Rodeo. Hope I have gotten rid of it by then and we should be more “official” at that time being all married like.

    No to win a marathon is to finish a marathon. I am not too highly strung to do much more these days.

    Used to smoke a pipe of tobacco now and then but it has been awhile.

    I see that Loboc calls our thoughts, “babble”. Posh I say, posh!

    On vacation.

    Regards! Higgins and The Furry ones


  135. 135
    N Riley

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (11:06 am)

    Not every car would need a 500 mile battery. You could size your battery to your every day needs. For longer trips, you could rent a car with an ICE or a 500 mile battery. Lots of things would change with the capability of 500 miles per charge.


  136. 136
    Noel Park

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (12:16 pm)

    Carcus:

    Amen!


  137. 137
    Noel Park

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (12:17 pm)

    Right!


  138. 138
    Wow

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (6:17 pm)

    Wow,
    This site has really turned into crap. Where did all the freaks come from.
    Do the 3am infomercials suck so bad that the looser are on here now speaking of their extremely limited knowledge and demonstrating the IQ of those under 100. ;)


  139. 139
    Ole EV Guy

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (6:34 pm)

    Even so the battery chemistry we have today is good enough to get us all started driving electric.


  140. 140
    Ole EV Guy

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (6:37 pm)

    AMEN!


  141. 141
    Ole EV Guy

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (6:44 pm)

    So you won’t be back, right. :-)


  142. 142
    Eric E

     

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (10:29 pm)

    We need a 240 mile range with a 15-20 minute quick charge at high-voltage public charging stations. This would allow 3-4 hours of continuous driving then a good stretch, some food, and a trip to the bathroom while the car is charging. Roughly half that range for a larger vehicle towing a boat.
    For daily use, the car could easily be recharged at home with 120v or 240v to recover the 20-60 miles traveled that day.
    Oh…wait a minute… I just described the EESU!
    Coming soon to a car near you…

    LMAO!


  143. 143
    Wow

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    Oct 5th, 2009 (11:50 pm)

    I dont know. Kind of like a train wreck you have to watch :-)


  144. [...] [Source: Smarter Technology via GM-Volt.com] [...]


  145. [...] [&#83ou&#114ce: Smar&#116er Te&#99hnology via GM-&#86olt.com] [...]


  146. [...] [Source: Smarter Technology via GM-Volt.com] [...]


  147. 147
    jwcrim

     

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    Oct 8th, 2009 (10:04 am)

    Right.

    This would also allow you to routinely use up more charge in your typical daily driving than you replenish at night. Then when your 500 mile reserve gradually nears depletion, you can drive over to a quick-charge station (or a battery-swap station).

    For example someone who charges nightly and drives 50 miles per day (instead of less than 40 miles) might be able to go for more than a month between visits to a station.


  148. 148
    jwcrim

     

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    Oct 8th, 2009 (10:33 am)

    Quick charging would be a cleaner solution than battery swapping but would probably take longer and could clobber battery life.

    Battery swapping activity:

    http://www.businessgreen.com/business-green/news/2248833/tokyo-taxis-trial-battery-swap

    http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/06/renault-ev/


  149. 149
    kent beuchert

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    Oct 8th, 2009 (5:38 pm)

    Household current isn’t as low volume as impleuied. Fifty amps at 220 volts would pump out 11 kilowatthours per hour, or 100 (which is what a 500 mile range vehicle would nominally require) in
    less than 10 hours. But thats not the point. if and when 500 mile ranged vehicles arrive, with fast recharge capability, then so will power pumps at your local gas station. Make no mistake about it – the only recharge locations that make any economic sense will be found at your local gas station. That’s what they are set up to do : refuel automobiles. Why would anyone pursue the totally brainless
    idea of creating all new refueling stations for electric autos? That’s
    about as inefficient and nutty an idea as I can imagine.


  150. 150
    Essai de motos

     

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    Oct 29th, 2009 (10:59 am)

    [...] [...]