Friday, January 18, 2008

Huge advance in hybrid battery technology--more power, longer life

Among the relatively few complaints about electric and hybrid cars is, what do you do with a pile of toxic batteries when they (too quickly) wear out?

(Photos: Test car in the United Kingdom goes 100,000 on new UltraBattery. Credit Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium. Researcher Rosalie Louey prepares battery components. Credit CSIRO.)

Battery performance and battery life have been a big, muddy anchor preventing faster movement in a number of technologies to reduce fossil fuel use.

A team of researchers has now combined known technologies in a unique way that promises to increase the life of batteries by as much as four times.

Turn that number around, and it means a 75 percent reduction in the amount of battery waste.

It's an indication that electricity storage technology is hardly close to a standstill.

The breakthrough was announced by researchers with the Energy Reformed National Research Flagship of Australia's CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, who developed it. Battery construction was by Japan's Furukawa Battery Company, and testing in the United Kingdom was done through the American Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium.

Their UltraBattery is in actual use. It's loaded on a hybrid car, which has now been driven more than 100,000 miles on a test track in the United Kingdom.

The UltraBattery combines a supercapacitor with a lead acid battery to create a battery that, in the words of CSIRO, “lasts longer, costs less and is more powerful than current technologies used in hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).”

One of the bonuses of the capacitor is that it takes a charge quickly and delivers a charge quickly. The UltraBattery loads the capacity quickly during braking, and employs the capacitor again during heavy acceleration. A lead-acid battery is the kind that's in your car now. They tend to be great for long, slow charging and long, slow discharging, but their performance can be significantly decreased by the kind of sudden demands that capacitors love.

“Previous tests show the UltraBattery has a life cycle that is at least four times longer and produces 50 percent more power than conventional battery systems, It's also about 70 percent cheaper than the batteries currently used in HEVs,” said David Lamb, who heads low emissions transport research with the program.

The program said it also has UltraBattery applications for renewable energy technologies like solar and wind power.

Some local links:

Cars that inflate:

Fuzzy logic and batteries:

Cars that run on air:

© 2007 Jan W. TenBruggencate

1 comment:

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