Jun 14

Could ‘Cambridge Crude’ gel battery send fossil fuel toward extinction?

 

File this one under gee whiz, or – if it pans out – file it under in a few years we won’t be needing nearly as much gasoline to power motor vehicles anymore.

Stories of amazing tech possibilities come out all the time, but one reported last week with more than a little hope attached to it is about a lab-based experimental battery invented by MIT students based on a two-part liquid electrolyte called “Cambridge Crude.”

The battery is being developed for EVs and grid storage and reportedly could deliver more energy density than lithium-ion batteries while being more cost effective. Even more intriguing is it could overcome a common objection to present-tech batteries in that it can be “refueled” with the pump-able liquid as petrol cars do in minutes, thus promising to relegate long recharging times to distant memory.


Cambridge Crude. A new kind of black gold?

The project’s supervising professor, Yet-Ming Chiang – one of the founders of A123 Systems – said the team’s mission was no less than “to reinvent the rechargeable battery,” and he expects to have a fully operational prototype suitable for electric cars in the next 18 months.

The new battery, which you can read more about in a technical paper, has been licensed to 24M Technologies which is working on perfecting the recipe, as it were. This Massachusetts-based organization branched from A123 Systems – which itself branched from MIT – and is doing the research with $16 million in venture capital and U.S. Department of Defense funding.

According to MIT News, the battery employs an innovative architecture called a semi-solid flow cell. In it, charged particles float in a liquid carrier between two containers.

The battery’s electrically active components – the positive and negative electrodes, or cathodes and anodes – are composed of particles suspended in the liquid electrolyte.

These two different suspensions are intended to be stored in separate tanks in a vehicle, then slowly pumped through systems separated by a filter, such as a thin porous membrane. When they come in contact, they exchange ions and create electricity.

“[The] new kind of flow battery is fueled by semi-solid suspensions of high-energy-density lithium storage compounds that are electrically ‘wired’ by dilute percolating networks of nanoscale conductor particles,” MIT said in a summary statement.

The battery’s separation feature is in contrast to conventional batteries in which energy storage and discharge take place in the same structure. Chiang said batteries can be designed more efficiently by separating these functions.

To recharge, electricity is input to separate the particles that make up each electrode. A couple potential ways to quickly “refuel,” would be either pumping out the expended liquid slurry, and replacing with fresh, similar to gas or diesel (except the pumping out part). Or, a complete tank swap system could be designed such as Better Place now proposes with solid batteries.

Until now, flow battery technology has been known, but energy density was too low. Cambridge Crude is said to have 10 times more energy density than previous liquid flow battery electrolytes. It is actually a fairly dense gel-like liquid that need not circulate very quickly, and instead “kind of oozes,” Chiang said.


MIT’s “Cambridge Crude” flow battery.

The unique difference of the MIT design is that it utilizes proven lithium-ion chemistry broken into tiny particles merged into the liquid matrix.

The initial promise of Cambridge Crude’s has MIT researchers hoping that they may have invented a completely new family of viable batteries.

MIT News cited Yury Gogotsi, distinguished university professor at Drexel University and director of Drexel’s Nanotechnology Institute who offered validation for the research.

“The demonstration of a semi-solid lithium-ion battery is a major breakthrough that shows that slurry-type active materials can be used for storing electrical energy.” This advance, he says, “has tremendous importance for the future of energy production and storage.”

Gogotsi cautioned research is still required to find better cathode and anode materials and electrolytes, but added, “I don’t see fundamental problems that cannot be addressed – those are primarily engineering issues. Of course, developing working systems that can compete with currently available batteries in terms of cost and performance may take years.”

This time estimate is on the high side from Chiang’s year-and-a-half projection for a working prototype EV battery, so we shall see whether the optimists or pessimists win.

Source: The Atlantic Wire, MIT News, MIT Online Library

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 14th, 2011 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 73


  1. 1
    nasaman

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (6:53 am)

    A superb summary of an exciting topic, Jeff! This could very well represent a major breakthrough in practical, high-density Lithium-ion battery development, one that I hope key people at GM, such as Mickey Bly, and those at other advanced automotive battery labs will look into in detail.

    /I’ve forwarded the link to this to two key people at GM involved in the Volt


  2. 2
    Jean-Charles Jacquemin

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (7:36 am)

    nasaman,
    @

    nasaman: A superb summary of an exciting topic, Jeff! This could very well represent a major breakthrough in practical, high-density Lithium-ion battery development, one that I hope key people at GM, such as Mickey Bly, and those at other advanced automotive battery labs will look into in detail.

    /I’ve forwarded the link to this to two key people at GM involved in the Volt

    Great Nasaman, I’ve seen this news last week and I did the same as you here in Europe.

    JC


  3. 3
    Sean

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (7:50 am)

    Let’s hope this is a truly original invention that will teach those oil companies a lesson unless that crude is oil it better not be? If it’s not and it better not be toxic to the environment either and I do hope that car companies will use this to truly increase the range and the charging time of an electric car but as usual they need to find out in a way by not shortening the battery’s life and I hope this crude stuff does not clog up the motor though if this does becomes a true marvelous invention just imagine the possibilities when it come to the future of the electric car only time will tell?


  4. 4
    Dan Petit

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (8:32 am)

    Re-reading between the lines, I am leaning toward a view that it is a repackaged Redux battery technology. In Redux, you pump the cathode and anode as extremely-highly reactive liquids through the cell that inputs energy or outputs energy by moving the liquid cathode and liquid anode faster for more energy transfer in or out, or slower for less energy transfer in or out.

    Forward-looking statements are often projected to be compared to what is already an excellent established benchmark of reliability in lithium ion as of today, but such statements are usually a little too forward thinking for the vast number of trial experiments needed before you get a seriously commercial-grade tech that could possibly be competitively marketable for something somewhere.

    A conversation I had with an EE a while back regarding Redux technology was also interesting, but he said that the Redux fluids, when charged, where extremely highly corrosive and toxic.

    I think that it is a good thing to look at all the various technologies as we really have no choice to do so for all the reasons we here at GM Volt.com express and discuss them every day. But by the same token, keeping in mind that we need reliable, compact, and high density energy storage technologies in electric motoring that are not many “years” away. It might be that this is worth looking into for stationary grid apps, but certainly not electric motoring moving apps.


  5. 5
    kdawg

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (8:38 am)

    So if its 10x greater density than the last flow battery, how does it compare to today’s lithium-ion battery density?


  6. 6
    Dan Petit

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (8:55 am)

    It looks like a very very simple experiment in the picture above, as of right now, so there is nothing really to compare yet. That is the problem with forward looking statements, in that there is an imaginary future comparison that does not yet exist as of right now.

    It could be an oil company joke for all we know right now.


  7. 7
    mikeinatl.

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (9:01 am)

    Seems to me that the breakthrough needed next would be a device that would separate the combined slurry back into its two orignal components so they could be reused to produce the electricity again. If that device were small enought to be onboard in the car, say a bit smaller than a current automobile engine compartment, this new type of battery might be able to produce ongoing electricity for a long long time, perhaps until the two components of the contained slurry lost their properties. Who knows, maybe months or years without replacing the slurry. How’s that for time between fill-ups? How about an electric car (or boat) you only have to “refuel” once every year or two? MIT, its your move…

    OK, thats enough science fiction from me today. Its back to work and reality.

    (Maybe I should interview with EEStor.)

    Go Volt!


  8. 8
    APC

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (9:40 am)

    Great to see new technology! Although I don’t like the idea of refueling with fresh gel. That presents problems.

    -We would still be at the mercy of fuel companies, tied to purchasing their fuel each week forever, at a price they decide.

    -You would need to remove some gasoline pumps and build-out an entirely new infrastructure of gel-charging, storage, and pumping facilities at thousands of gas stations. That could take years, even decades. By then, a better battery will have come around!

    -A useful refueling station would need to be able to supply all cars.. That means we would have to convince all manufacturers to use the same gel (not easy).

    - But most importantly, this would freeze the technology from advancing. You couldnt just come out with a better gel next year, because that would leave last years model with no fuel. This would be true no matter how well you planned it.

    I think the more viable option is improving batteries that can be recharged directly, with regular old electricity. That ensures batteries are free to evolve/improve. All new chemistries will use the same infrastructure we already have, -the grid- !!

    That said, the gel idea is still neat. Couldnt this battery recharge on-board? Maybe there are two storage tanks. One contains the spent fuel. When you plug in, the gel is pumped past charging electrodes and into a ‘charged’ gel tank. That way you could still seperate charging/recharging within the battery but refuel it directly from the grid?

    Either way great to see people are working everyday on this stuff. The world needs better batteries!


  9. 9
    PatsVolt

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (9:58 am)

    I think that this technology has the benefit of providing a long lasting (as in lifetime) battery that when the electrolyte fluid is spent as in lower power output, then one would only have to go and get the old drained and new Gel introduced to the battery and a new charge and off you go with a new battery. No need to physically change batteries. This has possibilities.


  10. 10
    Jackson

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (10:30 am)

    ;-) Isn’t “Cambridge Crude” an oxymoron? :-)

    Well, I guess this finally puts EEStor in it’s place! :P


  11. 11
    Jackson

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (10:46 am)

    But seriously.

    Any means of recharging the gel onboard a car would be much slower than replacement, obviously (less power available in your house, vs some commercial facility). The situation would be pretty much what we have today charging ‘conventional’ Lithium Ion. It seems reasonable to suppose that a practical battery of this kind would have to be capable of both recharging schemes. What makes this exciting is the issue of longer-distance travel which defines our EV choices today:

    * Pure EV with the prospect of public charging (perhaps at ‘high’ speed) for greater distance vs

    * EREV, which uses ordinary home charging combined with an onboard generator for longer distances.

    A gel car would be able to recharge at home using off-peak power and get a ‘rapid’ fill up when more range is needed (a fluid exchange will still take longer than a a gasoline fuel-up; imagine the time needed to pump something like shampoo or Karo syrup into your gas tank: probably a system of forced pressure will be used. Even so, I would expect the exchange to beat any form of “level 3″ recharging with plenty of time to spare).

    Some form of onboard recharging will be needed in any case for regenerative braking, unless a separate energy storage device is used.

    The technology, if feasible, also opens up a new possibility: a matched set of home and car batteries which use the same gel. The home unit would be a miniature of whatever process is used to recycle the gel commercially; it would recharge using off-peak power or solar arrays during the day. Gel could be exchanged with the car as needed, or used to run the house during it’s high peak periods.

    Incidentally, comparisons with petroleum have to take into account the fact that the fluid is not being consumed, but is infinitely recyclable (the commercial charging process would be capable of reconditioning the gel in whatever way might be necessary for continued use). I frankly don’t see oil companies getting involved at all (beyond providing pumps at existing gas stations). It’s far more likely to be a business model for utility companies: who would likely site the commercial recharging facilities close to power plants for greater efficiency (using the off-peak surplus electricity themselves).

    As I say, it’s an exciting prospect; but as Dan says, there is cause to temper that excitement. Some perfectly plausible forms of electricity storage I read about 30 years ago still haven’t appeared. There may be show-stoppers waiting in the wings.


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    Noel Park

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (11:21 am)

    Jean-Charles Jacquemin: Great Nasaman, I’ve seen this news last week and I did the same as you here in Europe.

    JC

    #2

    Hi Jean-Charles. It’s great to see your name here. Best regards. +1


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    Noel Park

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (11:24 am)

    mikeinatl.: (Maybe I should interview with EEStor.)

    #7

    Funny you should mention that. +1 I’m from Missouri.


  14. 14
    Tall Pete

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (11:36 am)

    Dan Petit: It could be an oil company joke for all we know right now.

    Involving MIT ? I’d be surprised. But it’s fondamental research at its core : they are trying to invent a new class of battery. They may succeed… or not.

    What I find interesting is the fact that they are searching for innovative solutions to solve the long recharging time problem. Also of great interest is the fact that we see more research in the field of batteries intended for cars.

    It’s about time we seriously search for ways to give back the power to the people by way of electric cars easily recharged at home or on the road at a stable price.


  15. 15
    Nelson

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (11:37 am)

    We need to learn from Nature.
    Clouds have the answer.

    Volt#671
    NPNS!


  16. 16
    Bob

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (11:37 am)

    I think the first thing they’ll need to do is rename it. You’re not going to get environmental enthusiasts to champion a new type of fuel if it’s got “crude” in the name — that just immediately makes everyone think of barrels of oil.


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    srschrier

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (11:49 am)

    It’s really good to learn of the battery technology advances being made by M.I.T.

    Similar research is underway at the University of Michigan and Fraunhofer Institute of Germany with their Redux Flow energy storage system:

    http://www.ict.fraunhofer.de/EN/coreco/AE/Batt_tech/Redoxflow-Batterie/index.jsp

    And the researchers at Cella Energy of Oxford University, England have invented a new hydrogen fuel that does not require a high pressure storage tank and uses a “fuel exchange” concept something like that of MIT & Fraunhofer:

    http://www.cellaenergy.com


  18. 18
    pjkPA

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (11:56 am)

    It’s only a matter of time … a energy storage device will be invented to replace OIL.
    I still don’t understand why GM doesn’t get some of it’s batteries from A123? Instead they pour all their Billions into a Korean company? Just not right.


  19. 19
    Larry

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (12:01 pm)

    I believe MIT has been a little over-enthusiastic the past few years in announcing new research results as “potentially revolutionary” when they are still little more than lab experiments. It is a long, long road from the lab bench to a commercial product.

    **I would prefer that technology writers wait until products reach the “Pilot Production” stage where actual samples are being delivered before making big announcements about how the future will be forever changed.

    If people had waited to see working samples of EEStor before getting excited, then a lot of people would have saved themselves a lot of time and investors would not have wasted so much money on what turned out to be false expectations. “Show me” beats “Could be” every single time!


  20. 20
    atljohn

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (12:10 pm)

    Will I still be able to recharge in my garage at night? I want to continue to be able to do that.


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    kdawg

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (12:26 pm)

    Nelson: We need to learn from Nature.
    Clouds have the answer.

    Clouds could contain the answer. I know I store lots of data there.
    ;-)

    (Seriously though, I assume you are not talking about capturing lightning?)


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    jeffhre

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (12:26 pm)

    atljohn: Will I still be able to recharge in my garage at night?I want to continue to be able to do that.

    Yes.


  23. 23
    kdawg

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (12:30 pm)

    OT
    Has anyone ordered a 2012 model year Volt yet?


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (12:42 pm)

    It’s STILL all about the batteries. Great to see what seems like more $ and effort going into R&D these days. Hope GM’s still testing a lot of different batteries in their 60k sq ft lab.

    OT: Here’s an expansion of the topic, from the Detroit News:

    The electric bus project and others in which GM Ventures has invested in recent month fits with GM’s efforts to lead in emerging auto technologies, said Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures, which formed last summer with about $100 million to invest.

    “The nature of the business is changing,” Lauckner said. “Technology cycles are rapidly shortening over time.”

    “If we do want to be a leader in technology again, we need to take advantage of where technology is being created,” whether it’s in-house or at a start-up supplier, Lauckner added.

    GM Ventures has spent $36 million of the $100 million, investing in companies such as Indiana-based Bright Automotive, which is developing a plug-in hybrid vehicle targeted for launch in 2013 or 2014. It also invests in companies pioneering technology in other areas, such as in-car infotainment, light-weight materials and vehicle sensors.

    All told, GM Ventures already has looked at more than 350 projects and allocated investments ranging from $3 million to $7million to five projects.

    From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110614/AUTO01/106140335/GM-Ventures-to-invest-$6M-in-Colorado-electric-bus-maker#ixzz1PGokLjae

    OOT: Still feels like we’re heading down the road towards solar power generation and batteries. Wouldn’t THAT be nice.


  25. 25
    CorvetteGuy

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (1:01 pm)

    Every new advancement in battery technology is just one more step to a better world. However, it only costs about $1.50 off the grid to recharge a VOLT. And that charge is needed at least once a day for the average driver.

    How much would a “goo” injection cost? More than $1.50 ? I would bet ‘yes’ on that one.

    This new tech sounds better for industrial use, maybe in large EV semi-trucks? That would be cool. But it still sounds like the Chevrolet VOLT is still the best combination of EV and ICE tech in one smooth-driving package.


  26. 26
    Jeff Cobb

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (1:09 pm)

    Request –

    I love off topic as much as the next person. However, sometimes people grab the top headlines and put stories in here which I might have expanded on for tomorrow.

    [Edit: ... Or, there is not much to expand on in some cases, and the main lead news may be given away a day in advance in an off topic post.]

    As a courtesy, could I request you think about it before doing that?

    I will find something for you folks tomorrow, but my plans have now changed. My workload is now double what it was because I am editing HybridCars.com too.

    Thanks,

    Jeff


  27. 27
    Jackson

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (1:19 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: I love off topic as much as the next person. However, sometimes people grab the top headlines and put stories in here which I might have expanded on for tomorrow.

    Is there an email box we can forward these top headlines to, in order to make your workload easier? We won’t tell your bosses — honest. ;-)


  28. 28
    DonC

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (1:24 pm)

    This is great and interesting stuff, but there is a lot of great and interesting research in the battery world. Lithium air batteries which could also be refilled using an acqueous solution is also exciting. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/japanese-research-examines-anti-clogging-lithium-air-battery-tech/

    The big deal is that until now we’ve had a chicken and egg problem. Because there haven’t been any EVs there has been less reason to have batteries designed to hold large amounts of energy. And because there haven’t been batteries designed to hold large amounts of energy we haven’t had EVs. With the Volt and the Leaf and other EVs coming to market this is beginning to change. We should see lots of breakthroughs, making the old rule of 8% improvement per year obsolete.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (1:31 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: How much would a “goo” injection cost? More than $1.50 ? I would bet ‘yes’ on that one.

    Me, too. BUT, that only helps you go 40 miles or so. If we’re talking 400, with fast range replenishment and a battery that no longer needs to be replaced at year 8 or 10, then we’re really talking something. The end game for batteries, actually. The 400 miles part seems to be the hardest problem to solve.


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    DonC

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (1:35 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: I love off topic as much as the next person. However, sometimes people grab the top headlines and put stories in here which I might have expanded on for tomorrow.

    I think you’re wrong in not wanting posts about other stories. Just because someone posts a story link doesn’t mean you can’t expand it for a new story! Lyle used this technique all the time. The more story posts the more ideas for you.


  31. 31
    DonC

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (1:37 pm)

    As a practical matter I think something like this is more likely to see the light of day first. It uses existing battery chemistry but speeds up the recharging. http://gm-volt.com/2009/03/11/100-fold-lithium-ion-battery-breakthrough/ Two minute fast charging for your Volt? Sounds good to me.


  32. 32
    Jackson

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (1:43 pm)

    The more I think about it, the more a commercially-recharged fluid-based battery seems like a win-win-win for the electric utilities. A facility for reprocessing discharged fluid could be placed near (or incorporated into) a power plant in order to use off-peak power near it’s source. The utility then has the option of using the plant for load leveling themselves, discharging the fluid through it’s own batteries; or of selling the off-peak power in liquid form to be stored and dispensed as needed for transportation.

    The baseline (most cost-effective) generators gain utility as peak load sources, the utility gains an additional revenue stream from providing fluid for use off site, making greater monetary use of an otherwise discounted resource.

    Many would argue that electric utilities might replace oil companies as a combine-controlled source of transportation energy, except:

    * Electric utilities tend to be more regionalized than “big oil,” and competition between them should keep the for-sale fluid reasonable in cost for motorists (once charged, the fluid can be shipped beyond a utility’s wired service area)

    * The ultimate source of the electricity is produced (for the most part) using resources in our own country. (Alternative energy, by it’s very nature, will also be locally sourced). This greatly reduces the need for huge, globe-spanning businesses to provide transportation fuel (and perhaps fix it’s costs).

    * With the exception of those few who have their own solar power in sufficient quantity, the utility is providing the energy over the wires in any case

    Now, if they can only get a battery like this to work outside the laboratory …


  33. 33
    Jeff Cobb

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (1:59 pm)

    DonC: I think you’re wrong in not wanting posts about other stories. Just because someone posts a story link doesn’t mean you can’t expand it for a new story! Lyle used this technique all the time. The more story posts the more ideas for you.

    Sometimes I can expand on things, sometimes there is not a whole lot to expand on.

    Do you realize GM did not reply to me since offering to answer reader questions over the weekend? Other times other sources don’t follow up either, so I am left sorting through the same news you are.

    If a big Volt news story (or GM-Volt-worthy top story) comes out, I don’t usually do a second post in the same day, but would do that for the next day. Sometimes the story is what it is, and I cannot add much to it.

    And in any case the core of the story may simply be given away a day in advance, so it kills the impact for the next day.

    I know my job, and what it takes to do it. I made a request. You do what you want.


  34. 34
    Jeff Cobb

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (2:01 pm)

    Jackson: Is there an email box we can forward these top headlines to, in order to make your workload easier?We won’t tell your bosses — honest. ;-)

    Sure, and thanks Jackson for your support. Nice to see you posting again. :)

    jcobb@verticalscope.com


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    Noel Park

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (2:22 pm)

    Larry: I believe MIT has been a little over-enthusiastic the past few years in announcing new research results as “potentially revolutionary” when they are still little more than lab experiments.

    #19

    Yeah, I really like the alligator clips, LOL. +1


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    stas peterson

     

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (2:23 pm)

    Flow batteries are nothing new. Flow batteries were proposed in the 1970s and nothing came of them. But they do make more sense than the talk of exchanging batteries.


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    Noel Park

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    Jun 14th, 2011 (2:27 pm)

    CorvetteGuy: But it still sounds like the Chevrolet VOLT is still the best combination of EV and ICE tech in one smooth-driving package.

    25

    Tell it like it is Brother! +1


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (2:29 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: I know my job, and what it takes to do it. I made a request. You do what you want.

    You sound like the Old GM, Jeff. Disdain for the users of this site is no way to increase viewer numbers. I still enjoy this site, but not nearly as much as before, for several reasons–some under your control, others not. You have no control over this site’s “product cycle”, that is, it is past the exciting early years now that the Volt is known and being produced. But you do have some control over the ‘feel’ of the site–do you even own a Volt? Do you even like it? That fact that I can’t tell is very revealing.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (3:18 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: I love off topic as much as the next person. However, sometimes people grab the top headlines and put stories in here which I might have expanded on for tomorrow.

    #26

    I see stuff go up on the forums, usually late in the day, all the time which then become stories by you the next day. It doesn’t bother me at all because you always flesh the story out and bring a new perspective. I think that’s fine. Don’t sweat the little stuff. You’re doing great. Pick out what you think is most important and go for it. A hint dropped the day before doesn’t distract from your more detailed analysis IMHO.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (3:21 pm)

    Noel Park: #26

    I see stuff go up on the forums, usually late in the day, all the time which then become stories by you the next day.It doesn’t bother me at all because you always flesh the story out and bring a new perspective.I think that’s fine.Don’t sweat the little stuff.You’re doing great.Pick out what you think is most important and go for it.A hint dropped the day before doesn’t distract from your more detailed analysis IMHO.

    Thank you Noel. Your kind words are always appreciated.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (3:34 pm)

    I was looking forward to not going to a service station every few days or weeks. This looks like a scheme to keep the oil company’s “apron strings” attached to your car so that the current distribution network could keep working. Nothing completely wrong with that, except not what I want to do. But, who am I to stand in the way of progress. More power to them, if they can make it work.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (3:51 pm)

    N Riley: I was looking forward to not going to a service station every few days or weeks.This looks like a scheme to keep the oil company’s “apron strings” attached to your car so that the current distribution network could keep working.Nothing completely wrong with that, except not what I want to do.But, who am I to stand in the way of progress.More power to them, if they can make it work.

    As long as the vehicle OEM is willing to have an on-board charger in the car, you will be able to charge this at home. The sludge replacement is only a different form of quick charge. A constant current from the grid, an on site turbine, solar or what ever could recharge the “Cambridge Crude” electrolyte in a service station for when nasaman makes his cross country drives.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (3:58 pm)

    T 1: You sound like the Old GM, Jeff.Disdain for the users of this site is no way to increase viewer numbers.I still enjoy this site, but not nearly as much as before, for several reasons–some under your control, others not.You have no control over this site’s “product cycle”, that is, it is past the exciting early years now that the Volt is known and being produced.But you do have some control over the ‘feel’ of the site–do you even own a Volt?Do you even like it?That fact that I can’t tell is very revealing.

    I much prefer objectivity over stories that are slanted as partisan sales jobs or wanton cheer-leading. And Jeff, I don’t feel disdained upon by your work in the least.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (4:01 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: Sometimes I can expand on things, sometimes there is not a whole lot to expand on.

    I wouldn’t worry about it. As long as you provide your individual perspective, it’s enough. We don’t necessarily need new facts for every article. Enthusiasm goes a long way.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (4:02 pm)

    jeffhre: I much prefer objectivity over stories that are slanted as partisan sales jobs or wanton cheer-leading. And Jeff, I don’t feel disdained upon by your work in the least.

    Thank you! I assure you that no one has my disdain. I work to midnight just about every day. I don’t always hit a home run, but I filter what is most “newsworthy” based on what I can find, and assuming I have the resources to pull off the article on time.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (4:16 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: Thank you! I assure you that no one has my disdain. I work to midnight just about every day. I don’t always hit a home run, but I filter what is most “newsworthy” based on what I can find, and assuming I have the resources to pull off the article on time.

    Jeff,

    You don’t sleep much if you end at midnight and post around 6:00 AM. I get to work at 6:20 AM and I see the new post each morning. Sometimes I post my comments early and sometimes at the end of my day. You are doing a great job! But take it easy and don’t “burn out”.

    Raymond


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (4:39 pm)

    Attention OPEC: The days of over charging US for your oil are numbered.

    You have awakened the sleeping giant of American ingenuity!

    Good luck in your future endeavors.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (4:41 pm)

    Attention Jeff:

    If I didn’t like the way you do things, I wouldn’t hang out here.

    Keep up the good work!


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (5:16 pm)

    Loboc: Attention Jeff:

    If I didn’t like the way you do things, I wouldn’t hang out here.

    Keep up the good work!

    Thanks, much appreciated!


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (5:19 pm)

    Raymondjram: Jeff,

    You don’t sleep much if you end at midnight and post around 6:00 AM. I get to work at 6:20 AM and I see the new post each morning. Sometimes I post my comments early and sometimes at the end of my day. You are doing a great job! But take it easy and don’t “burn out”.

    Raymond

    No, not enough sleep. I do work a flex schedule, and the post is set in advance the night before however, so it’s not that bad.

    Thank you.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (5:21 pm)

    LauraM: I wouldn’t worry about it. As long as you provide your individual perspective, it’s enough.We don’t necessarily need new facts for every article.Enthusiasm goes a long way.

    Thanks LauraM.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (5:58 pm)

    Loboc: Attention OPEC: The days of over charging US for your oil are numbered.

    You have awakened the sleeping giant of American ingenuity!

    Good luck in your future endeavors.

    #47

    I am reminded of a quote from Sheik Zaki Yamani, the Harvard educated Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia many years ago. He warned against pricing too aggressively, for fear of exactly the result which you have described. He said:

    “The stone age did not end because thay ran out of stones”

    +1


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (5:59 pm)

    Hi Jeff,

    It’s usually impossible to know what will be the next few post topics, so, if someone accidentally gets excited about something relevant to Volt or GM, I think it’s perfectly fine to discuss it, knowing that we don’t mean to undermine the process.

    Sometimes in a seminar, I have to say the exact same phrase more than two or three times. The larger the group, the more compromised the group dynamics. (There is always someone who has a puzzled look on their face when there are seven techs instead of two or three. So, I have to be very redundant, which slows down the learning rate for everyone.) So, even though seeming redundancy might on the surface seem undesirable, still, we are talking about a seriously complicated and wonderful product all the time, and, repetition is what fills in the additionally-necessary details.

    If GM did not get back to you for the Q and A, perhaps it was my fault for asking about the new breakthrough in steel processing, (Flash Bainite in Science Daily recently,) which would make perfect sense for the Volt, but I certainly would not mind if my question was not answered because of that, or if it was indeed in the formulation of proprietary design.

    You could still do a fantastic topic about it, I think.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (6:02 pm)

    Jeff Cobb: I know my job, and what it takes to do it. I made a request. You do what you want.

    No problems Jeff. Just trying to make your job easier. Do what you want.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (6:25 pm)

    I think Jeff was right to put a question mark after the story headline.

    Don’t forget that oil is an insulator, so, it seemed that there wasn’t enough of a handle regarding the physics of crude oil to make a link to what else the source was talking about that they claimed they were doing with it.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (6:38 pm)

    I was told once that for every hundred pounds of weight you remove, you get a half a mile per gallon of increased efficiency. But that was over twenty five years ago, and it was with those huge monstrosities of land yachts that people drove then.

    What might be worth speculating is what could be the electric range improvement if seven hundred pounds was reduced off of the weight of the Volt?

    My sheer speculative guess is four more electric miles.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (6:42 pm)

    N Riley: I was looking forward to not going to a service station every few days or weeks.This looks like a scheme to keep the oil company’s “apron strings” attached to your car so that the current distribution network could keep working.Nothing completely wrong with that, except not what I want to do.But, who am I to stand in the way of progress.More power to them, if they can make it work.

    I wonder what sort of home fluid swapping network could be made so you could still recharge you own fluid overnight but still have the option of filling up.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (6:53 pm)

    Dan Petit: Hi Jeff,

    It’s usually impossible to know what will be the next few post topics, so, if someone accidentally gets excited about something relevant to Volt or GM, I think it’s perfectly fine to discuss it, knowing that we don’t mean to undermine the process.

    Sometimes in a seminar, I have to say the exact same phrase more than two or three times.The larger the group, the more compromised the group dynamics. (There is always someone who has a puzzled look on their face when there are seven techs instead of two or three.So, I have to be very redundant, which slows down the learning rate for everyone.)So, even though seeming redundancy might on the surface seem undesirable, still, we are talking about a seriously complicated and wonderful product all the time, and, repetition is what fills in the additionally-necessary details.

    If GM did not get back to you for the Q and A, perhaps it was my fault for asking about the new breakthrough in steel processing, (Flash Bainite in Science Daily recently,) which would make perfect sense for the Volt, but I certainly would not mind if my question was not answered because of that, or if it was indeed in the formulation of proprietary design.

    You could still do a fantastic topic about it, I think.

    Thanks Dan,

    At this point, I’m sorry I brought it up. I am fine with anyone posting anything.

    If someone wants to hold back on a story that I may well write on the next day, I’ll thank them for that, but that’s the extent of it.

    It is certainly not your fault in any way that GM did not get back to me.

    I think someone was just busy, and still is, so no harm, no foul.

    Also, I asked about your engineering question about re-flashing ECUs, but got little response there as well, so sort of hit a wall.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (7:03 pm)

    Jeff,

    I think you are doing about ten times the work than ever was done here.
    I am always impressed that you take the time to talk to us directly.
    Your scholarship and analysis is unmatched by anyone ever posting here.
    People don’t actually leave, it seems to me, but they do have occasions where
    there are mandatory and compelling things that intervene and divert from regular visits.

    Sometimes, technical people do not realize that factual statements are sometimes
    too blunt or directly given. This is why technicians are not service writers most of the time.

    One thing that helped me last year, when I had 14 hour days of seminars, is that I chose to go to sleep early at nine pm on Tuesday nights and Thursday nights for complete sleep cycles. That pattern turned out to be a very successful strategy.

    Maybe that when the topic is so very well and thoroughly discussed, that new material is prone to come in late in the day. Lots of very gifted people post great responses all day after all.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (7:06 pm)

    Thanks for your encouragement, Jeff.

    No, you didn’t run me off ;-) .

    You have to have a thick skin to do this (there are one or two persistent trolls who regularly get under mine, lol). We had a retired psychologist on the board at one time, who was particularly adept at keeping some sense of civility here. Where are you, Tagamet?

    Keep up the good work, and retaliate by succeeding beyond anyone’s expectation. :-)


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (7:07 pm)

    kdawg: (Seriously though, I assume you are not talking about capturing lightning?)

    Now that you mentioned it, would it be possible to charge the goo during a lightning storm?
    If Franklyn were alive today he’d fill a large rubber barrel with the goo, put a lightning rod through the goo and barrel into the ground and wait for the lightning.
    :)

    Volt#671
    NPNS!


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (7:11 pm)

    Dan Petit: Jeff,

    I think you are doing about ten times the work than ever was done here. I am always impressed that you take the time to talk to us directly. Your scholarship and analysis is unmatched by anyone ever posting here. People don’t actually leave, it seems to me, but they do have occasions where there are mandatory and compelling diversions from regular visits.

    Sometimes, technical people do not realize that factual statements are sometimes too blunt or directly given.This is why technicians are not service writers most of the time.

    One thing that helped me last year, when I had 14 hour days of seminars, is that I chose to go to sleep early at nine pm on Tuesday nights and Thursday nights for complete sleep cycles. That pattern turned out to be a very successful strategy.

    Thanks Dan,

    I appreciate that. I see you bridge the gap quite well though.

    I have a fairly technical mind, and understand these things you say about technically oriented people are true.

    Really, it is no harm, and I hope after today we can all move forward.

    Unlike face-to-face talking, the Internet is a two-dimensional medium, and it is easy to misread people at times. I try to be careful, but I guess I still have a way to go.

    Regards,

    Jeff


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (7:20 pm)

    No one else runs a site anywhere as well on the planet as you do, Jeff.
    Keep everything the same, because it is as perfect as perfect gets.
    I do worry a bit about the possibility of your working a bit too hard at the
    expense of a little more needed sleep.

    (The value of each hour before midnight equals the value of two hours after midnight
    in our biological sleep cycling.)


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (7:27 pm)

    Jackson: Thanks for your encouragement, Jeff.

    No, you didn’t run me off ;-) .

    You have to have a thick skin to do this (there are one or two persistent trolls who regularly get under mine, lol).We had a retired psychologist on the board at one time, who was particularly adept at keeping some sense of civility here.Where are you, Tagamet?

    Keep up the good work, and retaliate by succeeding beyond anyone’s expectation. :-)

    Ha! I see you’re still not so much as writing as editing. ;)

    Glad to hear you’re sticking around. :)


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (8:00 pm)

    atljohn: Will I still be able to recharge in my garage at night?I want to continue to be able to do that.

    Edited. It appears that conventional charging is supported by these cell types. A paper from this project is linked below.

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aenm.201100152/pdf

    P.S. – The slurry provides some buffer, but if the particles in it are charged, they’ve got to be corrosive, right?


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (8:28 pm)

    Nelson: Now that you mentioned it, would it be possible to charge the goo during a lightning storm?
    If Franklyn were alive today he’d fill a large rubber barrel with the goo, put a lightning rod through the goo and barrel into the ground and wait for the lightning.

    Isn’t that how Flubber is made :)


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (9:39 pm)

    Dan Petit: No one else runs a site anywhere as well on the planet as you do, Jeff. Keep everything the same, because it is as perfect as perfect gets. I do worry a bit about the possibility of your working a bit too hard at the expense of a little more needed sleep.

    (The value of each hour before midnight equals the value of two hours after midnight in our biological sleep cycling.)

    Dan, you are too kind, and I know it’s still a work in progress.

    As mentioned also, I’m easing into HybridCars.com doing a few posts a week, with aim toward more.

    Tonight I posted a brief about a Wisconsin attempt next month for a 500 car hybrid parade (Volts are permitted too).

    It would beat the Belgian record set last year by Toyota of 140 cars.

    http://www.hybridcars.com/news/wisconsin-toyota-dealer-aiming-set-world-record-hybrid-parade-30167.html

    As for sleep, you are right about post-midnight. In this transition period I’ve been pretty stressed really.

    Tomorrow’s post will be shorter, but it’s kind of interesting, I think.

    Thanks again.


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    Jun 14th, 2011 (10:17 pm)

    An exciting concept that hopefully will allow a liquid quick charge fill in a few minutes in a self-serve location. With fill and discharge ports, the possibility of zero airborne fumes could help improve air quality in areas that do not have fuel recovery nozzles.


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    Jun 15th, 2011 (5:45 am)

    After driving half a million miles on gasoline. Volt ownership means you just don’t need to burn gasoline to get around town. It takes a while to sink in. Currently at about 410 MPG.

    =D-Volt


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    Jun 15th, 2011 (9:54 am)

    Might not work so well when it is cold out. This concept could work very well with the combination of being able to recharge at home and pumping out the old goop if a fast charge is needed.


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    Jun 15th, 2011 (1:53 pm)

    Great article, Jeff. Very interesting. Thanks


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    Jun 15th, 2011 (9:15 pm)

    kdawg,

    Better than the low end of conventional Li batteries and at best equal to average.


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    Jun 18th, 2011 (2:23 pm)

    APC,

    I’ve read a couple of other stories on this and one of the beauties not mentioned in this article is that they can be recharged by plugging in like “normal” batteries. Oil companies probably won’t get their hands on this one because of who is heading it up, the same professor that developed the A123 battery that is now used in countless laptops, cordless tools, and cell phones. So he understands the money involved in going to market. Infrastructure is going to be a challenge, but so was the gasoline infrastructure at the turn of the century. It will take the miracle of supply and demand to create a good system. Changes in the gel or hardware can be done as “upgrades”. Reletively inexpensive changes that may require a small hardware change that could be covered by purchasing an upgrade warrantee pakage for the first couple of years of your vehicle.

    Ultimately, this could mean a paradigm shift in how we fuel our vehicles and in the next 20 years we could open up all new avenues for plastics (which are formed out of crude oil) and the numerous other things that our society uses that are made from oil. This will reduce the need for oil in many forms and give us energy independance that all political parties can get behind.