Friday, May 11, 2012

Latest from: CleanTechnica

Latest from: CleanTechnica

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Drop the Second Car and Save with Public Transport

Posted: 11 May 2012 11:46 AM PDT

 
A new report from the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) outlines the huge savings possible by swapping from driving to public transport.

According to the APTA May Transit Savings Report, “individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can save, on average, $823 this month, and $9,880 annually.”

The report takes into consideration the costs of owning and operating a car, as well as aspects like the amount it costs to park a car.

“These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the cost of owning and driving a vehicle which includes the May 9, 2012 average national gas price ($3.75 per gallon — reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate.”

The top 20 cities with the highest transit ridership are ranked in order of their transit savings based on the purchase of a monthly public transit pass and factoring in local gas prices for May 9, 2012 and the local monthly unreserved parking rate.

City

Monthly

Annual

1. New York $1,209 $14,508
2. Boston $1,104 $13,248
3. San Francisco $1,084 $13,013
4. Chicago $988 $11,853
5. Seattle $984 $11,810
6. Philadelphia $977 $11,728
7. Honolulu $945 $11,339
8. Los Angeles $916 $10,987
9. San Diego $875 $10,502
10. Portland $874 $10,483
11. Minneapolis $872 $10,470
12. Denver $851 $10,208
13. Baltimore $844 $10,131
14. Washington, DC $819 $9,825
15. Pittsburgh $805 $9,664
16. Cleveland $803 $9,635
17. Miami $778 $9,332
18. Atlanta $771 $9,252
19. Dallas $763 $9,158
20. Las Vegas $759 $9,103

 

Source: American Public Transportation Association
Image Source: Benson Kua

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1-GW Solar Project Awarded by City of Jinchang

Posted: 11 May 2012 11:04 AM PDT

 
The Jinchang Municipal Government and Shanghai Alex Solar Energy Science and Technology signed an agreement in early May to develop 1 GW of photovoltaic solar capacity in the Jinchang city development center as part of a 5-year plan extending to 2016.

The total investment is said to be worth approximately 11 billion yuan, which is close to $1.7 billion USD. Alex Solar will build solar power stations in western Jinchang City, and a new factory will be developed in the new Jinchang City Economic and Technological Development Zone, which will have a capacity of 300 MW on its own.

“This project happens just in time to support China’s 12th Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development focusing on the energy, technology and health care sectors,” said Zhang Lingping, Municipal Party Committee Secretary, who presided over the ceremony. “Jinchang City is rich in natural resources and its sizable territory provides a platform for developing solar plants employing unique grid architecture.” Mr. Zhang explained that the government will “be adhering to this agreement and will provide all the necessary support to ensure this project gets an early start achieving early results.”

ZHANG LIANWEN, Chairman of Alex Solar, says the signing ceremony is an opportunity to seek further cooperation with the city of Jinchang in order to continue his mission of “utilizing science and technology to improve the quality of life for all people domestically and abroad.” Mr. Zhang Lianwen also recognizes that the ceremony signifies “an era of growth in Jinchang, bringing new business, increased revenue and more jobs to the developing area. Alex Solar is happy to be spearheading that growth.”

Source: Alex Solar

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UK’s Largest Community Wind Farm Takes New Step Forward

Posted: 11 May 2012 10:58 AM PDT

 
The Roseland Community Energy Trust announced Friday that it had formally lodged a planning application with the Bolsover District Council for what would be the largest community-owned wind farm project in the UK.

The project, which has been put together by Roseland Community Energy Trust, over the past three years, aims to benefit the local community in the Bolsover area of Derbyshire and Ashfield and Mansfield areas of Nottinghamshire, through income generated by six wind turbines on a 450 acre site leased from The Chatsworth Estate. If planning permission is granted, the Roseland site will be the largest wholly community-owned facility of its type in the UK.

It has been estimated that a minimum of £750,000 would be delivered back in to the community each year via two local organisations — LEO — a local enterprise organisation supporting young businesses, and Community Voluntary Partners (CVP) — a community-based local charity which supports voluntary and community groups and activities in Bolsover.

Speaking to BusinessGreen, the trust’s director John Hudson said that the group had spent three years developing the plans and engaging with the local community and remained confident that the project can secure planning approval.

“We have three factors in our favour: we have good community support for the project, the Localism Bill makes local community benefits a material factor in planning decisions, and changes to planning laws make it more likely that community-owned projects will be consented,” he said.

Source: Business Green
Image Source: Andrew Bowden

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$109 Billion Increase for Solar in Saudi Arabia

Posted: 11 May 2012 10:53 AM PDT

 
saudi arabia
Saudi Arabia is well known for being a leading exporter of crude oil, but soon enough it may also add substantial solar to its energy profile. The country is planning to have a solar capacity of 41,000 megawatts by 2032. How will it grow so much in just twenty years?

The country has begun a $109-billion plan to finance its solar endeavors, and is seeking outside investors. First Solar Inc. and SunPower Corp. are two of the larger companies mentioned so far as potential investors. However, it has been said they would probably need to do their manufacturing within the country. Otherwise, their efforts may not be profitable, and even if they have a local presence, profits will likely be lower than for American or European installations.

The majority of the 41,000 megawatts will likely be concentrated solar thermal power plants, which focus sunlight to very high temperatures in order to heat a fluid and then power a turbine. About 25,000 megawatts might be provided by this type of technology, with the remaining 16,000 coming from photovoltaic panels. Solar thermal plants have been successfully constructed in places like Spain, and they tend to have large energy generation capacities. (They also employ many people during the construction phases.)

Saudi Arabia is motivated to engage more with renewable energy due to a rising population and because the current practice of generating electricity using crude oil is reducing the income the country could make by exporting it. Currently, it only has about 50 megawatts of solar power, so increasing to 41,000 in the next twenty years is a massive shift.

Image Credit: Baptiste Marcel, Public Domain

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Solar PV Industry Group Invokes US Legacy of Industrial Innovation Ahead of Telstar 1′s 50th Anniversary

Posted: 11 May 2012 05:17 AM PDT

Scientists, engineers and other members of the US solar photovoltaic (PV) industry are gearing up to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Telstar 1, the launch of which ushered in the area of modern, space-based telecommunications, as well as solar PV energy technology.

Telstar 1 was launched in July, 1962, amid the Cold War era “Space Race.” Some 3,600 solar PV cells met the pioneering satellite’s power needs, as it began beaming the first space-based telephone calls and television broadcasts.

The successful launch of Telstar 1 marked a milestone in an era of US and Western scientific and technological innovation, and it’s one that solar PV industry participants hold particularly dear. “The advances marked just two milestones in a more-than-125-year solar strand of American industrial heritage that gives the solar industry special standing in the nation's technology pioneering,” states the Coalition of American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) in a press release.

“In that light, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) hails the approach of the Telstar anniversary as a time to recognize the inseparable lineage of U.S. solar ingenuity and manufacturing as a national industrial treasure. Today, solar manufacturing is realizing the promise of decades of American entrepreneurial striving by offering a robust source of rising energy security and independence.”

Bell Labs: Ushering in the Dawn of Solar PV…and a lot more

Since Telstar’s launch, solar-powered satellites have become a keystone of modern telecoms and computing technology. Equipped with remote sensing systems, they’ve been affording everyone from professional scientists, engineers, political and military leaders on through to casual users data and information on myriad phenomena to do with the atmosphere, the oceans, land use past and present, weather, climate and the earth’s biosphere. They also became the primary tool in a new era of remote military and national security intelligence gathering.

Silicon solar PV and Telstar both came out of Bell Labs, “a powerhouse” in an unprecedented era of American industrial and technological ingenuity and innovation, CASM points out. In addition to silicon solar PV, the list of Bell Labs’ world-changing innovations include the transistor, the laser, and the forerunner of the UNIX computer operating system.

The history and legacy of Bell Labs is detailed in Jon Gertner’s book, “The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation,” CASM notes.

US Solar PV: Carrying the Bell Labs Torch

CASM sees itself as a torch-bearer for the spirit of American ingenuity and innovation Bell Labs embodied. That tradition is being threatened by economic and trade regimes in state-driven, non-market economies, however, CASM asserts.

“If the industry becomes a casualty to illegal trade practices, it is unlikely to come back, and with its disappearance will go the vital thrust of development and research that otherwise could continue to grow solar-industry jobs and brighten U.S. prospects for energy security,” stated Gordon Brinser, president of SolarWorld Industries America Inc., the largest U.S. solar producer, and leader of CASM. “If better product performance or low production cost were winning the day, then so be it. But that is not the case.”

Gertner takes up the issue of American industry and innovation in his book on Bell Labs, CASM notes. “To think long-term toward the revolutionary, and to simultaneously think near-term toward manufacturing, comprises the most vital of combinations,” he writes.

China’s massive subsidization of silicon solar PV manufacturers and exports has had its benefits, but they’re not only unsustainable, CASM argues, they will, without adequate countervailing government support and action, result in the US forfeiting vital, key facets of the solar PV industry value chain to Chinese competitors.

The “United States’ solar-manufacturing know-how, workforce and innovation are too valuable to overlook and too critical to discard in the interest of artificially – and temporarily – low prices resulting from a predatory export drive sponsored by the government of China,” CASM states.

US Manufacturing Capabilities: A Solar PV Rallying Call

Solar PV today is seen as being at a tipping point of being able to compete with conventional sources of electricity without subsidies, which is actually a playing field that has been and continues to be tilted in favor of fossil fuels in any case.

Europe– of all places given it’s less than always sunny climate– has led the world forward in terms of installing solar PV and creating a globalized industry supply and value chain. Moreover, the solar PV industry has become a driving force for gainful employment and economic growth domestically in countries around the world at a time when most of the world’s major economies have been weighed down, and nearly ruined, by excessive credit creation, misallocation of capital and resulting bad debt.

Sustaining US Industry, and the Grid Parity Drive

Worldwide, solar PV capacity doubled in 2011. Progress toward grid parity has been exceptionally rapid, but government support is critical if the objective is going to be met. With Europe hobbling as a result of its debt problems, it’s imperative that China and the US pick up the slack and pick up the pace of solar PV installations domestically.

Thing is that China’s state-run solar PV industry exports some 95% of the silicon solar PV panels produced in the country. Furthermore, the Commerce Dept. has so far identified 10 categories of export subsidies that violate international trade rules with which it’s agreed to comply.

Filing two unfair trade petitions, CASM, whose membership now exceeds 200, is intent on trying to get the US government to better protect domestic solar PV manufacturers and the long-term sustainability of the solar energy industry, it asserts.

The upcoming 50th anniversary of Telstar and the legacy of innovation at Bell Labs it invokes offers an excellent opportunity to drive home its message. “The historical campus of Bell Labs is a 20-minute drive from our plant,” said Carlo Santoro, director of business development for CASM member MX Solar USA, the US subsidiary of Italy’s MX Group, which manufactures multi-crystalline silicon solar PV panels in the US.

“Domestic solar innovation and production as well as U.S. solar installation – which we will always have, regardless of production source – are the twin keys to continuing to open solar’s promise of rising energy independence and security and strong and growing factories and manufacturing jobs. To move forward, we first must fully recognize what’s at stake.”

The Commerce Dept. on May 17 is scheduled to issue its determination as to the extent Chinese silicon solar PV manufacturers have been dumping solar PV cells and panels in the US to the detriment of US manufacturers. If Commerce determines that this has been the case, it will detail countervailing margins on Chinese imports that would be assessed as duties to offset the illegal trade practice.

*Photo courtesy: NASA Images

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European Power, Renewable Energy and Engineering Leaders Join to Develop Wave Energy, Tidal Stream Power

Posted: 10 May 2012 11:59 PM PDT

Photo courtesy: Pelamis Wave Power

European utilities are deepening their involvement in the development of renewable marine energy resources, a sign that wave, tidal and other renewable ocean energy technology may be poised to come of age. Vattenfall, Europe’s sixth-largest power utility, Spanish multinational renewable energy developer Abengoa and UK-based international engineering firm Babcock have joined to form Nautimus, a Scottish company that will provide engineering, procurement, integration and construction (EPC) services for utilities’ wave power and tidal stream projects.

Nautimus’ genesis is the result of the three partners perceiving a need to bring together under one organization’s umbrella all the technology, engineering and power market experience required to take renewable wave power and tidal stream technology and projects from prototype and pilot stages through to full-scale commercialization.

“The partnership has been established to address the absence of EPC services players in the ocean energy sector capable of handling the wide ranging challenges associated with constructing projects with new technology offshore. This gap, if unfilled, would pose a significant problem for the sector if, as expected, ocean energy schemes are deployed in increasing numbers before 2020,” the partners explained in a press release.

Bringing Renewable Wave Energy, Tidal Power to the Grid

Nautimus’s first project is likely to be Vattenfall’s 10 MW Aegir wave power farm. Vattenfall’s working with Pelamis Wave Power (PWP) on the project. Construction could be begin in 2016 off Scotland’s Shetland Island if required government consents are received. Announced in March, Aegir is Vattenfall’s second wave power venture in the waters off Scotland’s Orkney Islands.

To develop Aegir, Vattenfall and Pelamis formed the Aegir Wave Power joint venture, the goal of which is to build a wave energy farm based on 11 Pelamis wave energy converters with a total rated capacity of 10 MW, sufficient to power some 8,500 households, according to Vattenfall.

Aegir Wave Farm has secured a test site with the Orkney-based European Marine Energy Center (EMEC). Aegir’s goals is to have a pilot test version of Pelamis’s wave converter up and running in 2014.

Scotland’s government has determinedly, and successfully, pursued the goal of establishing the UK autonomous region as the world’s premier center for the development of ocean energy technology. Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing applauded the creation of Nautimus.

"I welcome the news of the establishment of Nautimus, the first engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services company dedicated to supporting the development and deployment of wave and tidal energy projects. This is further evidence of the momentum building behind the marine renewables industry as it makes strides towards commercialization and the economic potential that this sector offers to supply chain companies."

Abengoa’s general manager of Seapower Javier Camacho believes Nautimus can play a key role in replicating the success the company’s had in the concentrating solar power field in ocean wave and tidal stream energy technology.

"In our concentrating solar power business we went from prototypes to large commercial projects adding more than 1.5 gigawatts in less than a decade. We see that wave energy could be poised for the same transformation, which is why we have established the seapower division and we are working through Nautimus. There is no time to lose if ocean energy is to become a commercial reality."

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Two-Stroke Engines Getting Challenged by CORE GasLess Power

Posted: 10 May 2012 06:14 PM PDT

 

The two-stroke gasoline engine — a huge emitter and contributor to global warming and pollution — may be staring at its deathbed far sooner than the gasoline engine for the automobile.

That is if CORE Outdoor Power has any influence on the matter. And well it should with the exciting line of gasless motor options it is launching in the next few months.

In the spring of 2012, the Montana-based company debuted its GasLess CGT400 line trimmer, the first product from its powerful line of GasLess outdoor power equipment that run on chargeable power cells. The motor device is capable of producing high torque rotary motion at high efficiencies and power densities — and doing it quietly.

The CGT400 Trimmer will run for 70 minutes and requires three hours for a standard charge. A fast charge device can be used that takes one hour. The eight-pound (add three more with the power cell) trimmer is well-balanced and features an instant trigger start.

The company is not just selling outdoor trimmers, though — it is targeting a substantial part of the tool arsenal in the landscaping industry, adding gas-free and emission-free lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, and two different blowers.

Lincoln Jore and Matt Jore came up with the idea of eliminating the wire windings and iron laminations used in conventional motors by embedding copper-etched conductors into a multi-layered printed circuit board to form a stator that works in conjunction with permanent magnets to produce torque in a new type of ironless and wireless motor.

Core Outdoor will soon release other outdoor tools, including a high-energy power cell, dual-mode controls for torque and speed, open view grass guard, and a comfort grip handle. This lightweight, long-life, virtually maintenance-free CGT400 Trimmer will retail at a price comparable with high-quality commercial gasoline trimmers on the market today.

Here are some key features on the trimmer:

•      Weight (without Power Cell): 8 pounds

•      Weight (with Power Cell): 11 pounds

•      Run Time: up to 70 minutes

•      Charger: 3 hour (rapid charger available)

•      Head Speed: 7,000 RPM in Speed Mode

•      5,000 RPM in Torque mode

•      Power Cell: Prismatic high energy

This YouTube video above provides a pretty convincing demonstration of the trimmer's ability to handle sizeable landscaping jobs — quietly and emissions-free. Kudos!

Photos: CORE

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Southwest’s Air Transport World Eco-Aviation Award is a Lesson for Us All

Posted: 10 May 2012 05:18 PM PDT

 
This is going to be a quickie, but I hope it drives home a very important point that we could all benefit from.

Southwest Airlines just won an Eco-Aviation Award from Air Transport World (ATW) Magazine today. Southwest was named “the Eco-Pioneer of the Year for the airline’s focus on efficiency long before environmentally-sound business practices were understood or recognized.”

That point about Southwest focusing on efficiency long before it was popular was probably for one obvious reason — energy efficiency saves money! Southwest, from my lifelong impression of the airline, has always been focused on saving money in every way it can. Rather than doing so to help the world or doing so to create a greener image of itself, I imagine Southwest was a pioneer in focusing on efficiency because it realized that was a fiscally intelligent thing to do.

As just pointed out in Sunrun’s funny new videos and my article on “solar = money for you“ last month, going green is often helpful for putting more green in your wallet or bank account as well. (Makes sense, since it is essentially about using our resources more wisely.) This also goes for riding transit (saves money), bicycling (saves money), and, of course, buying energy-efficient technologies and appliances.

Kudos to Southwest for its efficiency and fiscal wisdom, and I’m happy that helps the environment too, since that helps to cut our health costs, disaster costs, and costs inflicted upon so many creatures around the world and generations to come from the burning of fossil fuels that should really stay in the ground.

Source: Southwest
Image Credit: PR Newswire

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You Can Support a Huge (102.5-MW) Wind Farm in Wisconsin

Posted: 10 May 2012 04:42 PM PDT

 
A reader shared this with us on the CleanTechnica Facebook timeline. It’s a petition to support a huge wind farm in Wisconsin. It wasn’t created out of any special attack on the wind farm, it seems, but just proactively to help make sure this important wind farm moves forward through the permitting process. Personally, I love that — proactive citizen involvement is something we need a lot more of in the U.S. (and probably all around the world).

The petition is embedded below, followed by the “About this Petition” text from the Change.org page:

Wind energy is important because it is a clean energy source and does not produce harmful emissions. Renewable energy sources need to increase in numbers in Wisconsin to help Wisconsin become less dependent on foreign energy supplies.

The Highland Wind Project proposes 41 wind turbines in the Town of Forest of the St. Croix County. The $250 million dollar project will generate 102.5 megawatts, or will be able to provide enough electricity for 30,000 homes.

An application from Highland Wind Farm to allow construction has been submitted to the Public Service Commission (PSC) and has been officially stated as ‘complete’ as of March 29, 2012.

This is a huge step forward but the next step is The PSC has 180 days (September 25th, 2012) to review another application known as the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity(CPCN) which is required for the project to be approved.

Let the Town of Forest, St. Croix County, and the State of Wisconsin know that you are aware of this project and that you support this project.

Public Comments can be submitted to the PSC here:

http://psc.wi.gov/apps40/dockets/content/detail.aspx?dockt_id=2535-CE-100

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Important Difference between Clean Energy & Natural Gas

Posted: 10 May 2012 04:20 PM PDT

 
no to fracking

If you’re not familiar with The Onion, you should really give it a look — it’s a fake news site that often actually does better at reporting the news and important issues of the day than… well… anyone else around. Some of its coverage on global warming, extreme weather, and our response to these issues absolutely rocks.

Yesterday, it published a piece on natural gas fracking that triggered a light-bulb moment in my head (well, actually, it was the title of the TreeHugger piece sharing it that did so — Thanks to Fracking, PR Industry is Booming). Basically, the implied points of the article and what immediately came to my mind upon reading that title are as follows:

  1. Natural gas fracking has an uphill battle to fight with the public because people are well aware of the health and environmental harms related to this process. Clearly, Oscar-nominated Gasland had no small part to play in that. But, also, it takes all of one minute to explain how natural gas threatens some of basic natural resources that we all need to live.
  2. Clean energy, as much as some folks are trying to make it look dirty, consistently has the support of the majority of the public (even in the U.S.) because people know that it is inherently better for us.
  3. OK, nothing new here, but the sort of “light-bulb moment” that this triggered was basically around the fact that clean energy has a tremendous resource behind it — public support — while natural gas production faces a serious ongoing challenge due to its multiple dirty secrets (and some of them really are secrets — natural gas companies won’t reveal the toxic chemicals they use in some parts of the fracking process). With a little more work, clean energy industries could really use that support to land a big energy-market checkmate, in my opinion.

But, enough chatter, here’s the brilliant Onion piece on natural gas fracking:

Fracking Industry Now Largest Employer Of Recent PR Graduates

SAN FRANCISCO—A new labor market study published Wednesday has found that oil companies with hydraulic fracturing interests have outpaced the tobacco industry, Wall Street, and the gun lobby to become the largest employer of recent college graduates with public relations degrees. “These days, media-savvy professionals who know how to publicize questionable scientific data in order to downplay the environmental dangers of forcing toxic fluids into the ground can pretty much write their own ticket,” said Bart Hobijn of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, adding that this year at least 2,500 graduating seniors will be put to work obfuscating the levels of carcinogens in groundwater. “And in the long term, the job demand will only increase. Fracking has become a high-growth sector in which there is an extraordinary amount of spinning to be done.” When asked how he enjoyed his new position with a Pittsburgh-based fracking operator, recently hired PR manager Matt Coleman said he believed the practice is a “safe, clean way to increase our natural gas reserves and reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil.”

What a little bit of wit can do to nail an issue!

Fracking activist image via linh.m.do

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Sunrun Nails It with Funny New Solar Ads (& Jon Stewart Nails Trump’s Wind Turbine Concerns)

Posted: 10 May 2012 03:44 PM PDT

 

Some great videos out in the last week or so. First of all, solar leasing giant Sunrun launched some commercials that drive home one of the more surprising facts about people who go solar — for the most part, they do it for the money. The video above is probably my favorite, but the two below are pretty awesome, too.

To be honest, Sunrun nails the messaging in a number of ways in these videos, but I’m going to leave them un-dissected for now.

Solar power wasn’t the only clean energy source getting a video boost in recent weeks, though. Jon Stewart gave wind power a lift with this awesome video knocking on Donald Trump for his wind power concerns:

Nice. Any other videos worth a share?

h/t Climate Denial Crock of the Week & New Energy News

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New Battery Research: Double-Walled Nanotubes Improve Durability and Lifetime

Posted: 10 May 2012 02:31 PM PDT

Microscope Image of Silicon-Coated Carbon Nanofibers for New Battery Technology

These images from a scanning electron microscope show carbon nanofibers coated in silicon.

For more than a decade, scientists have tried to improve lithium-based batteries by replacing the graphite in one terminal with silicon, which can store 10 times more charge. But after just a few charge/discharge cycles, the silicon structure would crack and crumble, rendering the battery useless.

Now a team led by materials scientist Yi Cui of Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory has found a solution: a cleverly designed double-walled nanostructure that lasts more than 6,000 cycles, far more than needed by electric vehicles or mobile electronics.

"This is a very exciting development toward our goal of creating smaller, lighter and longer-lasting batteries than are available today," Cui said. The results were published March 25 in Nature Nanotechnology.

The Perils of Anode “Decrepitation”

Lithium-ion batteries are widely used to power devices from electric vehicles to portable electronics because they can store a relatively large amount of energy in a relatively lightweight package. The battery works by controlling the flow of lithium ions through a fluid electrolyte between its two terminals, called the anode and cathode.

The promise – and peril – of using silicon as the anode in these batteries comes from the way the lithium ions bond with the anode during the charging cycle. Up to four lithium ions bind to each of the atoms in a silicon anode – compared to just one for every six carbon atoms in today's graphite anode – which allows it to store much more charge.

However, it also swells the anode to as much as four times its initial volume. What's more, some of the electrolyte reacts with the silicon, coating it and inhibiting further charging. When lithium flows out of the anode during discharge, the anode shrinks back to its original size and the coating cracks, exposing fresh silicon to the electrolyte.

Within just a few cycles, the strain of expansion and contraction, combined with the electrolyte attack, destroys the anode through a process called “decrepitation.”

A New Design

Over the past five years, Cui's group has progressively improved the durability of silicon anodes by making them out of nanowires and then hollow silicon nanoparticles. His latest design consists of a double-walled silicon nanotube coated with a thin layer of silicon oxide, a very tough ceramic material.

This strong outer layer keeps the outside wall of the nanotube from expanding, so it stays intact. Instead, the silicon swells harmlessly into the hollow interior, which is also too small for electrolyte molecules to enter. After the first charging cycle, it operates for more than 6,000 cycles with 85 percent capacity remaining.

Cui said future research is aimed at simplifying the process for making the double-wall silicon nanotubes. Others in his group are developing new high-performance cathodes to combine with the new anode to form a battery with five times the performance of today's lithium-ion technology.

In 2008, Cui founded a company, Amprius, which licensed rights to Stanford's patents for his silicon nanowire anode technology. Its near-term goal is to produce a battery with double the energy density of today's lithium-ion batteries.

Source: Mike Ross, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Silicon-coated Nanofibers via Nature Nanotechnology

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