23 September 2009

Tech Tuesday - For effective Lithium Ion batteries, just add...Silicon?

  We all know that most hybrids don't run very far on a single charge before switching to gas, making the electric part not very useful for long distances.  This new find just might change all of that.  Here's the scoop from Treehugger

Researchers from Stanford University and Hanyang University in Ansan, Korea, in collaboration with LG Chem (makers of the Chevy Volt battery), have made a breakthrough that could change the future of electric cars. It's too early to know for sure, but what we know so far is very promising. They have shown that by replacing the conventional graphite electrodes in lithium-ion batteries with silicon nanotube electrodes (silicon nanotubes, not the more common carbon nanotubes), 10 times more charge could be stored. This could not only greatly extend the range of electric cars, but it would also make gasoline-electric hybrids more efficient by allowing them to run in electric mode for longer periods.

That's really promising and also very impressive.  I'd like to buy an electric hybrid, but it just wouldn't be cost effective for me, as I do a lot of long distance driving.  Even the Volt can only go about 40 miles on a single charge.  There are some setbacks, however.  The Silicon tubes are pretty fragile because they can hold so much lithium, and so they break after only 200 uses (give or take).  Scientists are working on ways to strengthen these for indefinite use.

Kudos to Chevy for partnering up with LG Chem on the Volt.  I like to see car companies moving into the future.  Now if only the Volt wasn't so damn expensive....

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