Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's Electric...

"Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."

A super-charged lithium ion battery?

If you own a cell phone, Ipod, or laptop computer, you own a lithium ion battery. They're long lasting - and take a long time to recharge. In small electronic items that's not a huge problem, but in the blossoming electric automobile technology, it's an interminably long one. Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) appear to have found a solution:

"In an attempt to pick up the pace, the M.I.T. researchers coated the lithium iron phosphate material with an ion conductor, which in this case was a layer of glasslike lithium phosphate. Sure enough, the charge-carrying ions traveled much faster from their storage medium; a prototype battery the scientists built completely charged in about 10 to 20 seconds.

The results have impressed some battery experts. "I think this work is a really exciting breakthrough with clear commercial applications," says Yi Cui, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Stanford University.

Two companies have already licensed the technology, according to Kang. Researchers are not sure how much these batteries will cost when they hit the market, but Kang says they should be reasonably priced, given that it should be relatively cheap to produce them."

There's still big hurdles to over come in electric auto tech. For example: Current shelf life is only about 3 years, whether you use them or not; Lithium ion batteries are degraded by their own generated heat, and in extremely, very rare cases have been known to burst into flames; Plus Li-ion batteries are drastically damaged by a deep recharge cycle, and ruined when completely discharged (you know how frustrated you get when you're s.o. drives on fumes...?)

Oh. Don't forget to tell Ol' no clean burning coal Joe that this electricity still has to come from someplace.

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