DoE calls for a chemical battery with 5x capacity, within 5 years – can it be done?

By John Hewitt on December 5, 2012 at 10:16 am

The Department of Energy wants batteries with five times the energy storage of those we have today. They want them to be five times cheaper and to be ready in five years. Earlier this year the Department’s solicitation for proposals was announced, and now five universities have been chosen for the job along with several national labs and private companies. According to US Energy Secretary Steven Chu, a “Manhattan Project-like atmosphere” is to be fostered. With a funding level of only $120 million and no visible enemy at the border, what are the prospects for success?

By most estimates the Manhattan Project — a research program that led to the first atomic bomb — was funded to the tune of $2 billion, which today would be around $20 billion. The Battery and Energy Storage Hub, as the new project is called, barely scratches the surface of that. Today’s chemical battery technology is fairly mature, and a serious competitor that would be viable on this projected timescale has yet to emerge. Exotic materials like graphene or carbon nanotubes are being explored as anode materials, and seemingly far-out concepts like using viruses to self assemble electrodes have been studied, but these concepts have yet to be proved. To achieve the kind of numbers that the DoE expects, we can only guess at what these folks might may have hiding up their sleeves.

Read more: DoE calls for a chemical battery with 5x capacity, within 5 years – can it be done? | ExtremeTech.

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