Lithium anode breakthrough could double or triple battery life

“Researchers at the University of Stanford have been working on a new type of battery, which could power everything from your phone to your car, and have made a breakthrough regarding the use of lithium as the cell’s anode,” Andy Boxall reports for Digital Trends. “A lithium anode could potentially increase the operating time of the battery, but sadly, lithium reacts with electrolytes used inside batteries, and can overheat or even explode.”

“This is the problem the scientists have overcome. By wrapping the lithium in a special protective layer – rather awesomely referred to as a ‘carbon nanosphere wall’ – it keeps the potentially unstable mixture from getting together and causing all sorts of chaos,” Boxall reports. “This has increased the efficiency of a lithium anode battery to 99 percent, according to the team, up from 96 percent before, and a step closer to becoming commercially viable.”

“According to a report by Phys.org, which quotes former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, a pure lithium anode battery could double or even triple the life of a smartphone, or increase the range of an electric car to 300 miles, but with a $25,000 price tag,” Boxall reports. “There’s still some work to be done on the overall efficiency, which includes further engineering and testing of new electrolytes, therefore no timeframe on when we can expect a lithium anode battery to be used in a product we can buy has been given.”

Read more in the full article here.

50 Comments

            1. Sorry I neglected to put the /sarcasm tag after my post. “One infinite loop” is a term that fits the running joke in this thread, and I applied it to one of those dopey “why talk about this on a Mac site?” posts.

    1. Over 2/3rd’s of the driving public could get buy with the electric vehicles available today. We have a Volt and my wife drives round trip to work 51 miles weekdays. She averages 41 miles a charge and uses about 2/10th a gallon each day of the work week. We never charge it any place but home. She typically fill’s it about once every 1.5 months for about $29 dollars because she can’t seem to get passed wanting to run it below two gallons.
      Say what you want will but I’m a fan and welcome even minor advancements.

      1. This is what I want to say: Mac users are sensitive to the total cost of ownership. I’m not sure electric car fans are. To replace an 8 year old Prius battery use to be $8K. I think the prices have come down quite a bit but that still needs to be considered. Here is an article about real cost of energy for the electric car: http://www.edmunds.com/fuel-economy/the-true-cost-of-powering-an-electric-car.html.

        While some think electricity is free, it isn’t, and much is generated using coal. For those that want to use solar panels dont forget about the cost of cleaning and the initial and eventual replacement costs.

        While the cost and efficiency of batteries is one part of the equation, the other part is the actual generation of the energy. I see a lot of wind turbines that sit idle and broken. Bottom line: there is a reason we use gasoline rather than clean the horse poop.

  1. I hope they engineer redundancy in the ‘carbon nanosphere wall’. I would not like to see a runaway reaction involving lithium. An efficient new battery could not become commercially available if not commercially safe.

  2. As sarcastic as the comment is (battery-powered cars in 100 years), it is not quite out of the realm of reality. Even with heavy enthusiasm of global markets for the possibility of affordable plug-in electric cars, the oil industry lobby has successfully blocked any third-party investment into research related to efficient storage of electrical energy (the only serious practical problem for the affordable electric car). Thirty years ago, GM was FORCED to build an electric car (by the state of California). When they did, even with the technology of the time, it was popular, and the owners wanted to keep them after their leases expired. By that time, though, California legislature changed hands, repealed the law, allowing GM to stop production. Not only did they immediately cease ALL development of electrical cars, but they didn’t even let current users buy their cars at the end of their lease — ALL cars were recalled back to GM and destroyed (to make sure not a single person ever got a chance to drive a car without paying an oil company for the fuel).

    Let us see where the current drive towards plug-in electric cars goes. Hopefully, with research projects (and zeal) from places outside the US, they will be a bit more successful.

    Without the oil industry’s forceful push-back, we would have been driving plug-in cars long, long ago. I can imagine what health benefits for millions of city dwellers the reduction in air pollution it would have had…

    1. Indeed, up to 10 years off your life expectations living in cities. I think the BMW electric car (i3) is becoming very popular and Teslas performance is a big leap forward because they have thought laterally. It’s gonna happen and I say that as a cynic a few years back, who saw only hydrogen as the only real alternative. If self motivated companies and organisations are truly being obstructive in the US then that is very short sighted as it could open the door to a second invasion of foreign imports from more enlightened producers. The first one didn’t work out too well for the home team.

    2. Although electric has it benefits, it is not fossil fuel free. The power generation plants are mostly powered by coal, nuclear, gas, or oil. Others provide the smaller part and general are supported by the fossil generation facilities. Even the production of various forms of alternative fuel systems are produced mostly by fossil fuel power and any lubercants required are from fossil sources.

      Even the Prius, based on an American patent that expired, takes about as much or energy to produce as a military Hummer. Not the cleanest start in life for its size.

      But getting back to fossil fuels, the electric car was the most popular until Ford and the combustion engine provided benefits, even today, electrics are not able to provide. Electrics are are fine in small urban areas and woefully short for the mass’ in between.

      Electric are a good start even though the price pays for a lot of fuel up front over a conventional high effiency combustion engine, not fossil free, and the carbon production needs to be offset before advantages are seen to the enviroment.

      But these electric vehicles, even dating back to the late 1800’s, are not the magic bullets against big fossil. But, it is a small movenment to a day when a new power production method arrives and battery tech that supports cheap and long lasting systems at a cost competitive point.

      But, oil will be used then too: clothes, lubercants, medicine, plastics, paint, etc.

        1. I was referring to the production of the car with the energy required along it complete supply chain. I do not know of the “bs” used. Perhaps define a little more as your answer was assuming knowledge of some information that was wrong. This I read had information was from an engineering report that calculated the cost per model for cost comparison. In the list was the energy used for the hummer, they were similar – that stood out in my member as something I had not expected. I no longer have the report and can not remember the analysts company responsible.

    3. Bullshit. Again, you don’t understand (or can’t comprehend) a market driven society. It is just beyond your Eastern Bloc ability to realize that the money a company (such as Apple, if it were to be) could make on that technology would be STAGGERING!!!!

      But no, it is much simpler to declare that EVIL BIG OIL has again held our planet hostage to global hot-headiness (or whatever) just to line their pockets and pay off their politicians.

      Obviously the Progressives you champion at every turn ended up being pussies when push came to bend-over in California in 1996!!!!!

      Of course, I’m sure there is some documentary somewhere that will set me straight….

  3. If I had a dime for every article I’ve read about some new battery technology that promises great leaps in capacity, I’d be a rich man. The only one I can think of was the jump to Ni-Cad, followed by a distant second with Li-Ion. I’ll believe it when I see it but I sure won’t hold my breath… like I did for the fuel cell, still not here yet.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to pop the cap on your methanol packet, shoot the juice into your AA size fuel cell, then don’t worry about it for 2 weeks. That’s what I’d call a jump.

  4. “University of Stanford” ?? Really? Apparently the author doesn’t know anything about Stanford. Phys.org didn’t screw up the university’s name but Digital Trends sure did.

    1. A friend was complaining that a more proper usage is Stanford University, or as they prefer to be called, Leland Stanford Junior University in full, Stanford for short. Not to detract from the informative article, but the incidence of OCD amongst readers is fairly widespread and ought to be respected by journalists even if editorial accuracy has declined in importance these days. Don’t know where, or if, the author and editor went to journalism school. Would hate to think such things don’t matter any more.

  5. So if you buy, say a volt for +40K, or you buy a Eco cruze for 20K, how long before you make up the difference in the premium between the 2 price points, taking in account the electrical costs and fuel costs. The cruze Eco (1.4L turbo) gets around 32-34 real driving MPG. I don’t know what the volt gets factoring in electrical costs (charging every night), but I’m guessing it would take at least 5 years to break even.

    1. Your numbers are off. A loaded 2014 Volt, leather interior, heated seats, Bose sound system, chrome wheels, cost us $33,500 out the door. $7500 tax credit which will make the real price $26,000. We save approximately $400 a month in gas or $4800/yr.
      It’s not a matter of paying for itself which it will in savings after 5.4 years, it’s the fact that I’m keeping much more money in my pocket every month. You lose the the cost of the vehicle through depreciation anyway. I have a 20 year old truck and even though I bought it new at $21,500, in turn it cost a little over $1k a year to own but it still cost me much more out of my pocket each month to drive then the Volt.
      Then there is the environmental impact. That argument people will debate but I believe it can help.

      1. A $7500 tax credit does not make the real price lower. It makes us pay for your car. The real price is still $33,500 and you would not buy it unless us tax-payers subsidized your purchase.

        1. Yes, I would have bought my Volt even without the tax credit. But I did receive the credit, so thank you for having subsidized my purchase—and so helping push vehicle electrification in the marketplace.

          Note, however, that it’s likely that you are receiving subsidies that I don’t get, such as for home mortgage, dependents, etc., so I’m supporting those common subsidies. On balance, I”m way behind in receiving the benefits of subsidies based on rather common provisions of the tax system.

          If, as is likely for the past decade or so, you have received more than $7,500 in credits and deductions for which I didn’t qualify, I’d appreciate a little nod of thanks for my tax support to you. 🙂

      2. Does the dealer provide the tax credit? I was under the impression you only get that money as a tax credit, meaning you get $7500 off your personal income taxes at the end of the year. And if you don’t file taxes, you don’t get any credit.

        1. In my case I do need to file a tax return and the $7500 will do more then just cut $7500 off my taxes. It will lower my overall tax bracket so it saves me even more.
          I didn’t make the rules but I can do basic math and I prefer to keep more of my hard earned money in my pocket then just handing it over to the government.

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