Monday, March 12, 2018

Look Mom, No Lithium! (Proton Batteries)

We post on very, very few battery technologies/breakthroughs/discoveries because:
1) There are so many we'd never get any actual work done. The potential rewards are so huge that everybody-and-their-brother-in-law is trying to find the Holy Grail.

2) 98% of the announcements will result in nothing outside the laboratory, the stuff just won't scale up.
The last one that we noted was January's "Batteries: Lithium-Iron may be Competitive With Lithium-Cobalt".

So with that in mind, here's Futurism:

What’s A Proton Battery? Three Things You Need To Know.
Most of your everyday electronics run off of lithium batteries — you know, the ones that you can never seem to find in your drawer when the remote is dead? Yet the days of the double-A may be ending. Researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia have created a prototype of an alternative battery that runs on carbon and water.
This is the first-ever rechargeable proton battery, an energy storage solution that runs off on cheap, environmentally friendly materials. But why do we need to change the way we store power? Here are three things you need to know about this energy source of the future, and about why it’s time to phase out those batteries currently rusting at the bottom of your recycling bin. (Don’t worry, we don’t know how to get rid of them either.)

1. The proton battery is made of much more abundant materials.
The planet’s supply of lithium is concentrated in just a few countries, and the other rare earth metals that go into lithium batteries are an increasingly scarce, expensive resource. In contrast, the proton battery has an electrode made of carbon, one of the most abundant materials on our planet, and is charged by splitting water molecules.

“The advantage is we’re going to be storing protons in a carbon-based material, which is abundant, and we are getting protons from water which is readily available,” said the project’s lead researcher, John Andrews, to The Guardian.

2. It’s rechargeable.
The RMIT battery can be plugged into a charging port just like any other rechargeable battery. What happens next is remarkably simple: the electricity from the power supply splits water molecules, generating protons, which bond with carbon in the battery’s electrode. The protons are then released again to pass through the fuel cell, where they interact with air to form water and generate power....

Some of the companies that have graced our pages and then failed to scale to the point they went bankrupt
  • Aquion - Funded to the tune of $190 million, Bill Gates liked it
  • A123- recipient of $249 million in government grants
  • Alevo - a claimed billion-dollar SwissCo bet on inorganic lithium ion tech.
Okay that's the A's.

Representing the B's, we don't have a battery Co. but we do have Beacon Power which, while not a battery does qualify under the rubric 'energy storage' and the $43 million DoE loan guarantee.

For C we have...

You get the point.