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This was from a year ago.....but some interesting numbers.

Nick Chambers |

According to a researcher working on I.B.M.'s Battery 500 project, lithium-ion technology has been stagnant since 2003 and there are few signs that it will show a dramatic breakthrough soon.

Referring to Moore's Law—in which computer processing power doubles every two years—Winfried Wilcke, the senior manager Battery 500, in a New York Times blog post said, "Forget Moore’s Law—it’s nothing like that. Lithium ion, which clearly is the best battery technology today, is flat, completely flat since 2003." Working on the assumption that battery technology is likely to make huge jumps every now and then, rather than steadily increasing like computer speeds, Wilcke's team has been developing lithium-air batteries for the last few years.

Lithium-air is one of the most promising next generation batteries due to the fact that it could provide a 500 mile range in a drivetrain and battery combo that weighs about the same as a combustion engine drivetrain plus the fuel needed to go 500 miles—but it is turning out to be a very tricky battery chemistry to figure out. As the Battery 500 website says, it is a "very high risk/very high reward, long horizon project," and potential commercialization may not be until 2020 or beyond.

Wilcke says that his team has just begun to scratch the surface of lithium air's potential, but they have already made some significant breakthroughs, including showing that lithium-air batteries can be recharged (something that had yet to be proven and a necessity for electric cars). Even so, many other pieces of the puzzle have to fall into place before this kind of technology becomes viable. For instance, even if we could develop a lightweight lithium-air battery with the energy density of gasoline, recharging that battery in a reasonable amount of time would be a feat in and of itself.

To take a car 500 miles, you'd need about 130 kW of electricity, meaning a 130 kWh battery. Even at the highest level of home recharging now available (14.4 kW) it would take you about 17-18 hours to fully recharge that battery. Of course, you likely wouldn't need to do that much charging at home on an average day, so you'd need some kind of massively powerful quick recharge infrastructure if you were on a long road trip.

Certainly some of the DC fast chargers that are on the books for the future could supply enough electricity to fill that battery to 80% full in about a half hour, but imagine the stress on the grid in that half hour for all the local infrastructure—that's a draw of 260 kW, or about what 9 average American households use in one day, but supplied in a half hour of time. Now imagine if you had even a hundred of them doing it all at the same time.

Regardless of the gigantic infrastructure hurdles, it is technology that would clearly mark the breaking of any barriers to electric car adoption if it could be implemented.

One would assume that with current 'tiered' electric'd need solar panels to compensate for the increased load/bill you'd be getting.
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Old 06-25-2012, 11:51 AM
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