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Old 01-12-2012, 10:06   #1
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Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

This could be a game changer for boat systems. Dare we hope?

DOE wants 5X battery power boost in 5 years - Computerworld
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:09   #2
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

Why can't the free market do this?
Argh. More unnecessary gummint spending.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:15   #3
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

We got some pretty nice technologies out of the space program. I hope the DOE succeeds. More efficient battery technology would help tremendously with a lot of things.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:15   #4
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

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Why can't the free market do this?
Because the free market provides no incentive for 6 government laboratories, 5 universities, and 4 private firms to work together on a highly focused project.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:16   #5
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

It seems the govmet wants to compete with MIT. Sadoway’s MIT Liquid Metal Battery Startup Adds $15M and Khosla Ventures as Investor : Greentech Media

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"Until we find a technology that is low-cost, highly scalable, and long-lasting, ubiquitous grid storage won't be possible. The all-liquid battery's elegant materials design and simple assembly process makes it the best chemical option we've seen for storing the grid at massive scale."

That's Khosla Ventures partner Andrew Chung's comment on Liquid Metal Battery Corporation (LMBC). He's now on the board of the firm; he funded founder Don Sadoway's research at MIT before the firm won the top ARPA-E award back in 2009.

LMBC just announced that it raised an additional $15 million in funding in its Round B from Khosla Ventures, Bill Gates and energy company Total.

We spoke with Phil Giudice, the CEO of LMBC, as well. He said, "Our Liquid Metal Battery technology is tremendously exciting because it has the potential to dramatically change the electric power system everywhere," in a release. The CEO told GTM that the company had passed the R&D stage and was moving into commercializing the technology for large-scale grid applications.
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Old 01-12-2012, 10:17   #6
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I did not read the hole thing, but anyone that thinks the gvt working on a solution to anything, is going to work. Is crackers. They will come up with a way to tax battery charging. I could see that.
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:09   #7
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

Battery technology is certainly needed. We're still using a 19th century technology, charged by Rudolph Diesel's other 19th century technology, which is pretty sad.

Nevertheless, you have to laugh at the comparison with the Manhattan Project, which cost about 25 billion in today's money. $120 million is chump change, for such a project.
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Old 01-12-2012, 11:23   #8
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This government mentality on things like this is so absurd. Like car emissions or gas mileage standards - some do-gooder idiot in an office in Washington somewhere throws a dart at a dartboard and says 200 miles to the gallon by 2015! Like you can just mandate technological breakthroughs by fiat. Imagine if we did that with medicine - let's just mandate hospitals will cure cancer in 24 months, what a great idea. This is a lot like DOE's nuclear fusion mandate. Billions spent - fusion reactions achieved: zero; deadlines met: zero. Since Einstein is dead now, maybe we should just pick another physicist and mandate that he finish the unified field theory by day after tomorrow.
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Old 01-12-2012, 13:32   #9
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

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This government mentality on things like this is so absurd. Like car emissions or gas mileage standards - some do-gooder idiot in an office in Washington somewhere throws a dart at a dartboard and says 200 miles to the gallon by 2015! Like you can just mandate technological breakthroughs by fiat. Imagine if we did that with medicine - let's just mandate hospitals will cure cancer in 24 months, what a great idea. This is a lot like DOE's nuclear fusion mandate. Billions spent - fusion reactions achieved: zero; deadlines met: zero. Since Einstein is dead now, maybe we should just pick another physicist and mandate that he finish the unified field theory by day after tomorrow.
There's an obvious political component to this discussion that I have no interest in pursuing. I appreciate the above sentiment, and am often frustrated by the bureaucracy of modern day civilization as well.

I believe this is different though. What's being defined is a stretch goal, not legislation. It's not dissimilar to how I run my own business. We look for milestones on a year by year basis, both financial and technological. We certainly don't always reach them but occasionally we exceed them. It's human nature to need a goal to measure accomplishment. As Ford said, "If you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right".

The lines between academia and industry are no longer blurred, they simply don't exist (at least in the fields I work in). The benefit of this collaboration is highly skilled, and cheap labor from academia. $120M over 5 years is a lot of money, but in the perspective of our 2012 budget (~$2.5 Trillion), it's a pittance. I doubt they'll get a 5X increase in battery efficiency, maybe it's 1% or 0.5% but a lot will be learned in the process. Look at the collateral benefit to the US population from the Apollo missions or the defense industry. I don't like paying taxes, but I'd much rather see my personal and business tax dollars spent on projects like this than about 75% of the government programs I'm currently aware of.

I look forward to following their progress and thanks for linking to the article.
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Old 01-12-2012, 15:24   #10
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

They won't.

Today the biggest brains are alreadye out there in business enterprises trying to do just that. If they cannot, no govt will.

Denser energy storage will come from commercial sector, not from govt agencies.

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Old 01-12-2012, 15:40   #11
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

Maybe the guvmet wants to get a patent on it before someone else does. That way they can control the industry, which someday we'll all need due to lack of fuel. Fortunately, here in the USA the guvmet doesn't control the fuel flow/prices, for the most part, except for restricting where we can drill.
A lot of the oil we buy now gets processed and sent over seas. And even the process plants are on hold by the guvmet. A couple years back they wanted to build a plant in AZ, but I've heard the project got shut down.
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Old 01-12-2012, 15:54   #12
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

I can beat that:

Witzgall wants 6x battery power in 4 years - Computerwurld


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Old 01-12-2012, 16:02   #13
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

Quote:
Originally Posted by RainDog View Post
Because the free market provides no incentive for 6 government laboratories, 5 universities, and 4 private firms to work together on a highly focused project.
I used to work in grants at the National Science Foundation but I now work in private industry (not for long!).

I completely agree here.... and $120 million is chump change. That's just management oversight costs. This is scientific research not engineering. The vast majority of companies which produce products today can trace their technology heritage back to the work done in research labs chartered by the government.

Once the science and a proof of concept exists, the second phase is to turn over the work to the private sector via a bidding program; engineer it into military and consumer products.

You can't pick a program out of their air (fusion) and use that as an example of the success of these projects (BTW - you are wrong here come very practical engineering has come from that program). These programs are by definition speculative - and the government must fund them or they will never be done.

When we were in grants, they really did require to exist a scientific basis for the funds to be released. We looked at some really crazy over the top science and you cannot believe the stuff that was never funded. So yes, the government has a review board for all the programs which are up for funding and this often done by university professors but fellows at corporations participate also. So they corporations get a lot out of it and usually get first dibs on access to this shared information.

There is a lot of battery science out there seeking a friend, sometimes it is waiting on another program to produce corollary science to make it practical. For example, cooling technology. Take engineering from Company A and other technology from Company B and merge into a product. The market does not do this by itself and never will, that is why we need the government.

Also - we have enemies. Believe it or not there are some very very very smart people that work in countries without the same benefits/freedoms we do in the US. We know they are working on certain things in secret, so we need to have someone take the roll of leader on our side to develop similar programs. Again - markets do not do this unless they benefit somehow. In fact, some markets benefit from things being WORSE... like tobacco companies.
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Old 01-12-2012, 16:26   #14
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

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Originally Posted by senormechanico View Post
Why can't the free market do this?
Argh. More unnecessary gummint spending.
Simple answer: Because the free market's interests do not always align with a country's interests.

Simple example: some clever inventors and visionary investors gave us automobiles, but it took government pressure to make them safer and more efficient.

The internet would not exist without government investment, the contributions of academic institutions, and volunteer involvement.

(See also roads, fire departments, the military, schools, FEMA etc etc )

The biggest technical problem keeping us from kicking our fossil-fuel addiction is energy storage and portability. There is nothing (other than nuclear) that provides as much energy density as gas or diesel. Batteries are currently the weakest link.

It's not in the free-market's interest to aggressively develop alternatives because petroleum-based energy is still priced absurdly low (ask any economist), yet it's in the US's interest to reduce it's dependence on foreign sources, and to reduce the amount burned annually. (cough-climate change-cough). Since it's political suicide to allow gas to rise to its real cost (at which point the free market would act)... government incentive/pressure may be reasonable alternative.

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Old 01-12-2012, 16:44   #15
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Re: Batteries 5x cheaper and 5x more power

Quote:
Originally Posted by zboss View Post
I used to work in grants at the National Science Foundation but I now work in private industry (not for long!).

I completely agree here.... and $120 million is chump change. That's just management oversight costs. This is scientific research not engineering. The vast majority of companies which produce products today can trace their technology heritage back to the work done in research labs chartered by the government.

Once the science and a proof of concept exists, the second phase is to turn over the work to the private sector via a bidding program; engineer it into military and consumer products.

You can't pick a program out of their air (fusion) and use that as an example of the success of these projects (BTW - you are wrong here come very practical engineering has come from that program). These programs are by definition speculative - and the government must fund them or they will never be done.

When we were in grants, they really did require to exist a scientific basis for the funds to be released. We looked at some really crazy over the top science and you cannot believe the stuff that was never funded. So yes, the government has a review board for all the programs which are up for funding and this often done by university professors but fellows at corporations participate also. So they corporations get a lot out of it and usually get first dibs on access to this shared information.

There is a lot of battery science out there seeking a friend, sometimes it is waiting on another program to produce corollary science to make it practical. For example, cooling technology. Take engineering from Company A and other technology from Company B and merge into a product. The market does not do this by itself and never will, that is why we need the government.

Also - we have enemies. Believe it or not there are some very very very smart people that work in countries without the same benefits/freedoms we do in the US. We know they are working on certain things in secret, so we need to have someone take the roll of leader on our side to develop similar programs. Again - markets do not do this unless they benefit somehow. In fact, some markets benefit from things being WORSE... like tobacco companies.
zboss,

You may not have many posts here on CF, but this one is right on. If we as a country ever want true energy independence, then we need ways of storing cyclical energy production for use at a different time. Battery technology will free us from the gas pumps, where the product production and pricing is out of our control, to stored electrons that can be both produced domestically and individually. Not to mention the added benefit of being a greener means of personal transport, electric cars with their full torque available at 1 rpm are a hoot to drive. I have 3 EVs and have driven the Tesla Roaster, no need for a transmission that assists the operation of a weak kneed internal combustion engine when you have an electric motor.
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