Batteries. It's All About Batteries.

by Joe Havelick 3. December 2008 18:03

...or in a more abstract form, energy storage devices.  The United States has a big problem.  As do some other nations, but I'm speaking to ours in particular.  We have such a terrible dependency on oil, that those who possess it are able exercise some control over our actions in order for us to obtain it.  We're even able to ignore the increasingly clear negative side affects of our use of this stuff, ala global warming, because we don't seem to have any viable alternative.  But let's not just talk about the problem, let's talk about the solution.

In our current pursuit of alternatives, we speak regularly about the collection of energy via alternative sources including solar, wind, hydro, the aggregation in solar arrays, dams, and wind farms, and the transmission.  However, we have pretty much maxed out the potential of those methods and need to focus on the current weakest link, storage.

One of the major problems with these alternative energy sources, particular those based on solar or wind, is the variability in the rate of production.  A cloud or calm sky can vary a energy production rate by up to 95% percent, unpredictably to boot.  A redundant system is not enough to assure a reliable supply of energy, so we must depend on a reliable backup supply of energy.

Additionally, current implementations of batteries within hybrid vehicles prove to be heavy,of low capacity, volatile, and even harmful to then environment.  The weight and size of these devices severely limit the performance and range of the vehicles.  The chemical composition of them make them prone to fires and explosions.  They are typically made of either lithium-ion or nickel-metal hydride type cells.  You may be familiar with lithium-ion batteries as those that had a stent of exploding and creating uncontrollable fires in laptop and cellphone batteries.  Nickel-metal hydride batteries present their own volatilities.  Both types also present a major environmental impact in terms of their production and disposal, although much less so than other types of batteries.

We must develop a more practical means for the storage of energy.  This will have major applications to both vehicle and utility industries.  Rather than spending money to "bail out" our automotive industry... rather than spend money on a war to preserve our oil interests int he middle East... rather than worry about Mr. Putin being able to proactive war games in our back-yard via the funds he has been able to marshal via oil interests in his country... we should be allocating money towards research of energy storage devices.  Once developed (and yes, this is thinking optimistically), not only will we have eliminated a major hurdle, but we will have the option to sell the products or license the technology to other nations.  That, or we can sit on the sidelines and wait for another country to develop and license it to us...

McCain had the right idea, in proposing to implement a $300 billion battery challenge. Let's hope Obama can implement something similar.

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Comments (1) -

1/12/2009 1:47:53 PM #

Chris

Hi Joe Havelick.  I believe you are correct in your assertions, we have to move more electric vehicles.  There are certainly ramifications to the grid however.  This should be one of the first public projects that Obama undertakes in his stimulus.  We need to up date the grids so that we can make electric cars viable as well as possible battery stations.  

One would need a chain of battery rental establishments (or something of the sort).  Perhaps a monthly membership of sorts to a place that can store the batteries necessary for operating electric vehicles.  Obviously the batteries need to become more viable (a.k.a. smaller and cheaper), but that can be done.  So rather than fueling you would get to exchange a low battery for a full one, charged on the premises.  

Who would have thought two kids who used to pretend they were on "Whose Line is it Anyway" in a basement would be trying to solve America's problems on the interent?

Chris United States |

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