Telsa is planning to build an enormous “Gigafactory” in order to make cheaper batteries for electric cars. Via IEEE Spectrum.
Tesla Motors plans to build a huge U.S. battery factory capable of supplying 500 000 electric cars annually by 2020. The $5-billion “Gigafactory” is expected to produce more lithium ion batteries in 2020 than all the lithium-ion batteries produced worldwide in 2013—a huge step on the road to driving down the cost of battery packs and mass-market electric cars.
A completed Gigafactory running at full production capacity in 2020 would allow Tesla, founded by Silicon Valley entrepreneur Elon Musk, to have an annual battery cell output of 35 gigawatt-hours. The Gigafactory’s initial launch in 2017 would coincide with Tesla’s plans to introduce a lower-cost, mass-market electric car in the same year, according to The Wall Street Journal. But lower lithium-ion battery costs could also open the door for new power storage opportunities beyond electric cars.
“By the end of the first year of volume production of our mass market vehicle, we expect the Gigafactory will have driven down the per kWh cost of our battery pack by more than 30 percent,” said a Tesla Motors press release…
While some are exploring the use of solar energy with clothing, Kolon Sport is exploring wind energy, according to Design Week. Its Life Tech jacket has a tri-layered system for water and wind protection, and also features a first aid and survival kit. But the real interest lies in its power generation capability.
It also features a wind-turbine mounted on the jacket sleeve, which can be angled to generate power throughout the day when the wearer is on the move. It can be used to power devices such as GPS and smartphones, as well as the jacket’s built-in Heatex system, which provides up to seven hours of heat up to a temperature of 40-50ºC.
The wind turbine can also be attached to the side of a tent at night for continued energy harvesting.
The jacket was developed by Semourpowell to address basic needs such as shelter, warmth and communication.
Ian Whatley, associate design director at SeymourPowell, says, ‘The concept was born from invaluable insights gathered by working with leading experts in extreme survival; so we’re absolutely confident that the design and features are based on solid foundations.
Although this garment is designed for survival, it may have a use in windy cities. Could a daily commute include wind power? Attaching a turbine at the elbow allows for hand movement and stride, but perhaps it could be done on the back of belts or on top of hats. Just a few weeks ago, wind turbines the size of rice were in the news, so perhaps wind energy in our threads will eventually be common.
Moss FM is the world’s first totally plant powered radio. Developed by Swiss engineer Fabienne Felder in collaboration with Cambridge University scientists Dr. Paolo Bombelli and Ross Dennis, Moss FM works using an aesthetically pleasing lineup of moss plants as a “Photo Microbial Fuel Cell.” The fuel cell acts as a sort of biological solar panel and harvests electrons produced from the photosynthesis of the moss and converts them into electricity, even when no light is available.
In order to grow, plants photosynthesise – they use solar energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars. The photosynthetic process, in simple terms, consists of two stages. In the first, light-dependent stage, plants split water – oxygen is released and electrons and protons are produced. In the second, light-independent stage, plants then ingest carbon dioxide to convert those electrons and protons into sugars.
Now, here’s why mosses operate as potentially better photo-active components in Photo-MFCs than other plants: Mosses are as efficient in the first stage of photosynthesis as other plants. But they grow slowly, which means they are less efficient at converting the produced electrons and protons into sugars in the second stage – leaving us with bigger potential to collect and transform electrons into electrical current.
The researchers acknowledge that this type of technology is still in its infancy and the total amount of harvested energy is limited, but hope to develop it further to increase its efficiency for larger scale use. As Felder notes, the impact of this sustainable energy source has some significant potential.
If 25% of Londoners (ca. 2.7 million people) charged their mobile phone on average for 2 hours every other day with moss, we would save enough electricity to power a small town: 42.5 million kWh, amounting to a saving of £6.81 Million and 39632 Tons of CO2* a year. These are interesting values, given the huge amounts of electricity that are wasted during generation and transmission, for example. And even more interesting, if we consider that at the moment we capture only about 0.1% of the electrons the mosses potentially produce.
This conceptual design for tiny windmills is adorable and could potentially be very useful. Via Wired.
Imagine a world where your iPhone was out of juice and there wasn’t a Lightning cable for miles—wouldn’t it be great if you could just blow on your phone to bring it back to life?
Professor J.C. Chiao and Dr. Smitha Rao of the University of Texas at Arlington have developed a new windmill technology that could shake up the power industry and make emergency recharges possible. Unlike the industrial giants that sit in off-shore windfarms, these diminutive devices measure just 1.8 millimeters at their widest point and ten could fit on a grain of rice.
These windmills would be instantly recognizable to Van Gogh, but the itty-bitty blades are examples of a thoroughly modern class of of device called Microelectromechanical Systems, or MEMS. These micro machines are widely used in electronics manufacturing, an average smartphone contains at least half a dozen, but the brittle silicone assemblies are typically reserved for static applications. Advances in nickel-alloys add durability to the structures and open up a variety of applications, including assemblies with highly dynamic parts.
IEEE Spectrum explores the idea of cooling servers with liquids rather than air which would have a huge impact on energy use.
Asicminer, a Hong Kong–based bitcoin mining operation, has taken an unorthodox step to gain an advantage over other computing systems running the algorithms that generate the virtual currency. To save money on energy, Asicminer puts its servers in baths of oil to cool them.
The result? Asicminer’s 500-kilowatt computing system uses 97 percent less energy on cooling than if it employed a conventional method. Its custom-made racks hold computers that are submerged in tanks filled with dielectric oil that won’t damage the machines. The oil takes up the system’s heat, and inexpensive cooling equipment extracts the heat out of the oil, ultimately expelling it outside.
The average data center spends more than 30 percent of its energy bill just on cooling, making it a major cost to the Googles and Facebooks of the world. But liquid cooling, particularly immersion cooling or circulating water through server racks, has yet to make a big splash in the cloud. Microsoft, which operates more than a million servers worldwide, is sticking with air cooling because it’s proven and scalable, says Kushagra Vaid, general manager of cloud server engineering at Microsoft. “Cost of scaling is a big factor for Microsoft when considering new types of cooling methods,” Vaid says. “Our scale demands standardized and simplified techniques that are deployable across server environments and geographies.”
Sometimes is pays off to be a little messy…espcially if you’re a lithium ion battery. Via Scientific American.
Inside a lithium-ion battery, you might not want to keep everything neat and tidy; a little bit of disorder may improve its performance, according to new research.
Engineers meticulously arrange materials in rigid patterns in typical lithium-ion cathodes and anodes, the idea being that a more structured arrangement yields a more efficient battery. In the pursuit of greater energy densities, better performance and longevity, designers are seeking ways to structure battery components more rigorously and at smaller scales.
Letting material layers blend or lose their shape often corresponds to weaker battery performance, a situation that arises as these devices age. The lithium ions have a harder time moving through the cathode and thereby deliver less energy.
“This understanding and experimental evidence has generally led battery scientists to overlook disordered materials,” explained Jinhyuk Lee, a research assistant in materials science and engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
However, he found that in some circumstances, disruption could have performance benefits. Lee and his collaborators published their findings last week in the journal Science.
“In this paper, we found a particular composition that when it becomes disordered, it can still have a good performance,” said co-author Dong Su, a staff scientist in the electron microscopy group at Brookhaven National Laboratory.
Researchers used a blend of lithium, chromium and molybdenum for the cathode, initially alternating between lithium and transition metal oxide layers. After charging and discharging the battery a few times, they found the performance remained steady.
What made this battery design work so well with a disordered structure compared to previous designs was the presence of excess lithium. Conventional lithium-ion batteries use equal amounts of lithium and a given transition metal. With the new formula, the extra lithium finds its own path through the cathode, creating faster channels for the ion and delivering a more consistent performance.
This hack explains how one maker brought his laptop battery back to life, via hackaday:
[Andrew] picked up one of those Panasonic Toughbooks awhile back and although it’s hardly a top of the line laptop specs-wise, it does have some pretty cool features: it’s shock-proof, splash-proof, and extreme-temperature-proof. It even had a touch screen before touchscreens were cool. Despite its durability, however, the laptop was left to sit for a bit too long, and the battery pack no longer accepted a charge.
[Andrew] quickly disassembled the battery pack and began measuring the cells with his trusty multimeter, assuming just one cell had gone bad. Curiously though, no cells reported 0V. What he did find was that each cell and sub-pack reported 2.95V, which is 0.05V below the “safe operating limits” of typical lithium ion cells.
I wanted to create a more generic version of my battery board that could easily be used with either a Model A or a Model B Raspberry Pi without electrical or mechanical modification. The board would utilize the same electronic components of my V1 board but have a form factor that allowed it to be simply plugged into a stock Raspberry Pi. After hacking away at some prototyping PCB, this is what I came up with
PiTFT Mini Kit – 320×240 2.8″ TFT+Touchscreen for Raspberry Pi – Is this not the cutest little display for the Raspberry Pi? It features a 2.8″ display with 320×240 16-bit color pixels and a resistive touch overlay. The plate uses the high speed SPI interface on the Pi and can use the mini display as a console, X window port, displaying images or video etc. Best of all it plugs right in on top! (read more)
Utilities would love to be able to store the power that wind farms generate at night—when no one wants it—and use it when demand is high during the day. But conventional battery technology is so expensive that it only makes economic sense to store a few minutes of electricity, enough to smooth out a few fluctuations from gusts of wind.
Harvard University researchers say they’ve developed a new type of battery that could make it economical to store a couple of days of electricity from wind farms and other sources of power. The new battery, which is described in the journal Nature, is based on an organic molecule—called a quinone—that’s found in plants such as rhubarb and can be cheaply synthesized from crude oil. The molecules could reduce, by two-thirds, the cost of energy storage materials in a type of battery called a flow battery, which is particularly well suited to storing large amounts of energy.
If it solves the problem of the intermittency of power sources like wind and solar, the technology will make it possible to rely far more heavily on renewable energy. Such batteries could also reduce the number of power plants needed on the grid by allowing them to operate more efficiently, much the way a battery in a hybrid vehicle improves fuel economy.
Potatoes are not only delicious, easy to grow and easy to store but scientists are now finding that their power potential is bigger than they had previously thought.
A couple years ago, researchers at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem released their finding that a potato boiled for eight minutes can make for a battery that produces ten times the power of a raw one. Using small units comprised of a quarter-slice of potato sandwiched between a copper cathode and a zinc anode that’s connected by a wire, agricultural science professor Haim Rabinowitch and his team wanted to prove that a system that can be used to provide rooms with LED-powered lighting for as long as 40 days. At around one-tenth the cost of a typical AA battery, a potato could supply power for cell phone and other personal electronics in poor, underdeveloped and remote regions without access to a power grid.
To be clear, the potato is not, in and of itself, an energy source. What the potato does is simply help conduct electricity by acting as what’s called a salt-bridge between the the two metals, allowing the electron current to move freely across the wire to create electricity. Numerous fruits rich in electrolytes like bananas and strawberries can also form this chemical reaction. They’re basically nature’s version of battery acid.The potato battery kit, which includes two metal electrodes and alligator clips, is easy to assemble and, some parts, such as the zinc cathode, can be inexpensively replaced. The finished device Rabinowitch came up with is designed so that a new boiled potato slice can be inserted in between the electrodes after the potato runs out of juice. Alligator clips that transport the current carrying wires are attached to the electrodes and the negative and positive input points of the light bulb. Compared to kerosene lamps used in many developing parts of the world, the system can provide equivalent lighting at one-sixth the cost; it’s estimated to be somewhere around $9 per kilowatt hour and a D cell battery, for another point of comparison, can run as much as $84 per kilowatt hour.
Taek-Soo Kim, Jung-Yong Lee, Jang Wook Choi and colleagues explain that electronic textiles have the potential to integrate smartphone functions into clothes, eyeglasses, watches and materials worn on the skin. Possibilities range from the practical — for example, allowing athletes to monitor vital signs — to the aesthetic, such as lighting up patterns on clothing. The bottleneck slowing progress toward development of a wider range of flexible e-fabrics and materials is the battery technology required to power them. Current wearable electronics, such as smartwatches and Google Glass, still require a charger with a cord, and already-developed textile batteries are costly and impractical. To unlink smart technology from the wall socket, the team had to rethink what materials are best suited for use in a flexible, rechargeable battery that’s also inexpensive.
NEW PRODUCT – K-TOR Pedal Powered Generator – The Power Box – The Power Box is a pedal powered generator that generates electricity as you pedal. In addition to the two-bladed socket Americans find in their homes, The Power Box features a universal outlet that adapts to EU, UK, and other world outlet styles. Global citizens and world travelers can leave adapters and converters at home. The Power Box will work with almost any rechargeable device. Just plug your charger in the socket, pedal as if you were on a bicycle, and it will charge your device. The Power Box can power devices up to 20W.
Powerful and Versatile Twice as powerful as The Pocket Socket, The Power Box has 20 watts of generation capacity at 120 volts. This is enough to charge low power netbooks, tablets, smartphones, video devices, portable gaming devices, all sorts of stuff!
The Power Box can charge multiple devices at one time, for example four smart phones or two tablets. When used with an accessory part, the Power Box can charge a 12 volt battery. A 12 volt battery can be used to store energy and can power certain appliances that the Power Box cannot power directly.
Hands-Free Designed for continuous operation from a seated position, our pedal power generator enables you to generate electricity on a sustained basis. While this generator can be used with either hands or feet, when pedaling with your feet your hands remain free to do other things.
Light Weight and Portable The Power Box (folded) is 12 in by 5.5 in by 3.5 in. It weighs 14 lbs, 11 oz. Power output is 120 volts DC, 20 watts.
It’s convenient that the 5.5/2.1 mm center-positive DC connector is nearly ubiquitous among DIY electronics. On the other hand, the “whoops I grabbed the wrong supply and killed my LED strip” tragedy is almost a weekly occurrence in the forums. I’ve done it too. They all look the same.
You don’t need a fancy labeler for this (but they’re fun!). Tape will do. Or bread clips. Whatever, avoid the Magic Blue Smoke Monster and label all your power supplies one way or another.