Issue 5 (2019)
Week 28 January - 3 February 2019
Welcome to the new edition of the Last Week In Batteries digest! Good news: sub-second battery charging is theoretically possible.
This weekly digest of developments in the battery space is intended as a demonstration of what one can do with Avogadro One. Avogadro One allows capturing relevant news easily and quickly, saving you valuable time. If you want to know when you can use Avogadro One for your own research, please sign up to our mailing list here. We would also be happy to hear any feedback.
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.
Tesla is acquiring an ultracapacitor company
Tesla is acquiring Maxwell Technologies, a company focusing on ultracapacitors. We'll have to see if it succeeds at integrating that technology into its vehicles.
Impact areas: Ultracapacitors, Electric vehicles
Gel polymer electrolyte for magnesium batteries
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences have developed a gel polymer electrolyte for magnesium batteries. The new electrolyte shows good performance and safety.
Impact areas: Magnesium battery performance and safety
An algorithm for managing lithium batteries
A researcher from Tongji Zhejiang College is proposing a new algorithm for online estimation of the state of charge in lithium battery systems. Experiments on lithium cobalt acid batteries showed estimation error of under 4%.
Impact areas: Lithium battery management
New candidate for sodium-ion batteries
Scientists from the Nagoya Institute of Technology have identified a candidate material that can make sodium-ion batteries viable - Na2V3O7. The material shows "fast charging performance, as it can be stably charged within 6 [minutes]" and "leads to long battery life as well as a short charging time." Initial experiments showed capacity at just half of the theoretical level, however, so more work is required before sodium can dethrone the more expensive lithium.
Impact areas: Sodium-ion batteries
Flexible cathodes for Zn-air batteries
A team of researchers from IMDEA Energy Institute, IMDEA Materials Institute, and the University of Wisconsin has developed flexible, carbon nanotube fiber-based cathodes for structural zinc-air batteries. They report "high capacity of 698 mAh/g and ultrahigh energy density of 838 Wh/kg." Structural batteries can be used as structural elements in devices, e.g. serve as both a wing of an airplane and as a battery at the same time.
Impact areas: Zn-air batteries, Structural batteries, Flexible batteries
Battery selection framework for photovoltaic systems
Scientists from Rutgers University have created a model to help select the right type of battery for "optimal grid-outage resilient photovoltaic and battery systems." This could eventually affect the demand for various types of batteries.
Impact areas: Utility-scale energy storage systems, Battery supply chains
3D imaging technique for metal nanoparticles
Chemists from the University of Manchester have developed a technique to create 3D images of metal nanoparticles. The new method greatly improves the understanding of metal nanoparticles, which are important in catalysts. And catalysts are critical for fuel cells.
Impact areas: Fuel cell efficiency and costs
New material to clean hydrogen in fuel cells
Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China have come up with a new material that can purify hydrogen in fuel cells. Hydrocarbon-derived hydrogen often has impurities, such as carbon monoxide, which can "poison" fuel cells, reducing performance and life. The new material is "a new structure of atomically dispersed iron hydroxide on platinum nanoparticles," which can work at ambient and freezing temperatures, unlike existing alternatives that require high temperatures. Eventually, water-derived hydrogen will replace its dirtier hydrocarbon-derived counterpart, but with the relatively high cost of hydrogen, this discovery could help lower the costs of using fuel cells in the short run.
Impact areas: Fuel cell vehicles
Distributed energy storage management algorithm
Scientists from the University of New South Wales have developed an algorithm that groups elements in a distributed (peer-to-peer) energy storage system for optimal performance. This will help design better storage systems for distributed renewable energy networks.
Impact areas: Energy storage demand
Management of electric vehicle charging system
A researcher from Penn State University is proposing a new control system to protect electric vehicle batteries during charging. According to the scientist, "simulation and experiments show that original voltage and current ripple magnitude can be reduced significantly."
Impact areas: Electric vehicle battery durability
Analysis of materials for Li-Ion batteries
A team of researchers from several German institutions has published new insights into a class of materials "considered as promising materials for solid state electrolytes in Li-ion batteries." Their findings shed light on the processes in these materials and could lead to improvements in battery technology.
Impact areas: Li-Ion battery performance
Study of nanostructured amorphous Si for high-energy-density batteries
A team of scientists from US universities has used machine learning to get insights into how nanostructured silicon behaves in Li-ion batteries. They believe their findings can help design "rate-improved anodes based on modified Si."
Impact areas: Li-Ion battery performance
Proton highways promise sub-second battery charging
Researchers from Oregon State University have demonstrated that "proton highways" can be exploited in batteries instead of ionic charges. Proton highways promise very fast charging and discharging in theory, but a lot more work is required to develop batteries based on this mechanism.
Impact areas: Battery performance
Machine learning model for prediction of energies and forces
Scientists from the University of California San Diego have developed a new machine learning-based model to predict energies, forces and various other properties of materials. It could help predict the performance of materials in batteries and speed up research.
Impact areas: Battery materials