Lighter Cheaper More Powerful Battery Changes Renewable Economics
Guest essay by Roger E. Sowell, Esq. Marina del Rey, California
It is not often on SLB that I use the phrase “game-changer.” Most things progress, if they progress at all, in small increments. This time, though, is one of those that deserves the phrase game-changer.
The innovation is the low-cost, light-weight but powerful battery developed by Nobel prize-winner Alan Heeger, PhD of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). The company is Biosolar . see link to http://www.biosolar.com
The battery is suitable for mobile and stationary applications such as cars, trucks, grid stabilization, home power storage, and others. The innovation is the use of the Nobel prize-winning plastic-that-acts-like-a-metal, haologenated polyacetylene.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 2000: Conductive Polymers (see link) is lengthy but has this to say about the discovery:
” In 1977, however, Shirakawa, MacDiarmid and Heeger discovered that oxidation with chlorine, bromine or iodine vapour made polyacetylene films 10^9 times more conductive than they were originally. Treatment with halogen was called “doping” by analogy with the doping of semiconductors. The “doped” form of polyacetylene had a conductivity of 10^5 Siemens per meter, which was higher than that of any previously known polymer. As a comparison, teflon has a conductivity of 10^–16 S m–1 and silver and copper 10^8 S m–1.”
The battery, which is now patent-pending at the US and other patent offices, is expected to cost less than $100 per kWh (about one-fourth that of the best batteries today), to weigh less and therefore provide longer range to cars, to have a greater power density (power to weight ratio), have a faster charging time and much longer life. Another substantial positive is the material itself, made from common acetylene. There are no rare earths to mine and extract, no toxic residues. The halogen dopants are also common, cheap, and abundant.
This battery, which continues the use of lithium for the anode, is likely a primary contribution to the Tesla company’s announcement this week of a new mid-price all-electric car.
The renewable energy field, especially those technologies that have variable output due to changes in the wind or sunshine, will benefit greatly from a low-cost high-density battery. A wind energy project would not be limited to selling power at low prices, currently 3 cents per kWh, but instead selling the power as would a gas-fired power plant, on demand and reliably at the market price.
Added by Anthony:
From the Bisosolar website:
Breaking the $100/kWh Cost Barrier to Mass Market Adoption
Materials account for more than 70% of the cost of a battery. In particular, the cathode material makes up 20-35% of the total materials costs. Therefore, lowering the cost of the cathode is an effective way to lowering the total battery cost. The estimated raw materials cost of our cathode is similar to that of inexpensive plastics, with a very high possible energy density of 1,000 Wh/kg.
Our Super Cathode can be used to manufacture a super battery that is 2 times higher capacity than the batteries currently used in a Tesla Model S, at 4 times less cost.
Processing materials and time are additional cost drivers. Our cathode can be processed from water and eco-friendly solvents, which (i) eliminates the use of costly and toxic solvents, (ii) eliminates high temperature drying processes, and (iii) speeds up the production throughput.
Many analysts in the electric vehicle and solar industry consider $100 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to be the “holy grail” price threshold. In the case of electric vehicles, $100/kWh will make them undeniably cost-competitive with gas-powered vehicles. And in the case of solar, it will finally be cost effective to store daytime solar electricity for nighttime use and be less reliant on, or completely independent of, the power grid.
Our current estimate of the cost of a full battery using our Super Cathode with a conventional graphite anode is approximately $54/kWh.
Compared to Existing Batteries Based on internal experimental data, other published data, and a calculation model adopted from the Energy Laboratory of Samsung Electronics, we have estimated the energy density and energy costs of a complete super battery that uses our Super Cathode technology.
The BioSolar Super Cathode can be combined with conventional anodes to create different battery configurations to meet specific application or market requirements. Due to the overall low cost, high energy, long life and rapid charge features of our cathode, the resulting battery will be inherently lower cost, higher energy, longer life and faster charging.