Week 11-17 March 2019
Welcome to the new edition of our Last Week In Batteries digest!
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This is a very basic review of last week's events relevant to the battery and fuel cell industries. We do not pretend to be experts in this space but as investors we find such an overview helpful. The digest is intentionally very brief and dry and is intended as a demonstration rather as an end product. We'd love to hear what tools/software/platforms you use to stay abreast of the events in your industries of interest: please answer our anonymous questionnaire.
Nickel cathode degradation explained
U.S. Department of Energy chemists have looked at the processes inside nickel-rich layered materials that can replace the expensive and toxic cobalt in Li-ion batteries. They found the explanation for the nickel cathode's degradation over time and have proposed a new particle structure to mitigate this.
Impact areas: Li-ion battery durability and costs
Review of 2D materials for Li-ion batteries
Scientists from the China University of Petroleum have published a review of recent advances in 2D materials for Li-ion battery electrodes.
Impact areas: Li-ion battery performance
Overview of electricity storage technologies
Researchers from Tata Steel Limited and Institute of Physics in India have published an overview of electricity storage systems, particularly supercapacitors.
Impact areas: Supercapacitors
New generation of lead batteries
At a recent Consortium for Battery Innovation (CBI) conference, members "mapped out a plan to develop a new generation of lead batteries." The Consortium wants to make lead batteries good enough for grid-scale storage and for electric vehicles. Reportedly, "CBI and its many research partners have now developed a roadmap to guide funding for the next steps in the technology’s advancement."
Impact areas: Lead battery performance and applications
What experts say about proton exchange membrane fuel cell adoption in vehicles
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University asked 39 experts for their opinion and estimates regarding various aspects of mass adoption of proton exchange membrane fuel cells for electric vehicles. For example, most experts agree that the Department of Energy's $30/kW cost goal would be met by 2050.
Impact areas: Fuel cell adoption, Electric vehicles
Fuel cells that work both ways
Chemists from the Colorado School of Mines have designed a ceramic alloy catalyst for a proton conducting fuel cell (PCFC) that both splits water and generates electricity from hydrogen. The catalyst uses 98% of the electricity it receives to split water, compared to less than 80% in previous designs. The PCFC can then generate electricity from the hydrogen as a normal fuel cell. This opens interesting opportunities for distributed hydrogen generation by the very devices that use it as fuel.
Impact areas: Fuel cell adoption
Nanodots improve Li-ion battery electrodes
Scientists from Tokyo Tech and Okayama University have discovered that covering the LiCoO2 electrodes of Li-ion batteries with BaTiO3 nanodots enhanced their "high-rate performance." Importantly, the researches were also able to explain the phenomenon, although some questions still remain.
Impact areas: Li-ion battery performance
Drone with structural battery wings takes flight
Engineers from Case Western Reserve University have tested an electric drone airplane with structural batteries built into its wings. The plane stayed in the air for almost three hours. Hopefully, larger aircraft with structural batteries will follow soon.
Impact areas: Electric aircraft, Structural batteries
Thermal runaway in Li-ion batteries explained
Researchers from the University of Texas at Dallas have described how Li-ion batteries overheat in what is referred to as "thermal runaway." According to the scientists, the cause of the problem lies on the surface of the electrode and thus should be relatively straightforward to fix with a coating that controls the detrimental reactions. If these processes can be controlled, battery capacity can be increased more easily as they will be safer. Maybe Penn State has already figured this out? (see below)
Impact areas: Li-ion battery safety
New solid-electrolyte interphase for Li-ion batteries
Chemists from Penn State University have designed a reactive polymer composite to make a better solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) and protect Li-ion electrodes from degradation. According to the researchers, "With a more stable SEI, it's possible to double the energy density of current batteries, while making them last longer and be safer."
Impact areas: Li-ion battery safety, performance and durability.
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