DailyDirt: Better (Bigger) Batteries

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Battery technology is getting better all the time, but unfortunately not quite at the same pace as Moore's law. While some folks lament the bottleneck of pocket-sized batteries that limit the operation of a phone or laptop to just a few hours (or a couple days on standby), some bigger batteries out there are limiting the growth of renewable energy use. Here are just a few battery projects that could solve some larger scale energy problems. If you'd like to read more awesome and interesting stuff, check out this unrelated (but not entirely random!) Techdirt post via StumbleUpon.

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    DB (profile), 18 Oct 2013 @ 10:56am

    Tying this into renewable energy is a red herring.

    Most renewable sources are indeed irregular and unpredictable. Solar PV is an obvious one. It only works during the day, with most power only during the few hours around noon. And there are both short-term and long term interruptions: a passing cloud can cause a sudden 90% drop in power production, and a storm system can effectively shut off power from the system for a week.

    But with current usage levels and patterns that irregularity isn't a crisis. Solar PV and wind power are contribute such a small percentage of the electric power generation that even increasing them by an order of magnitude won't, by themselves, require batteries on the grid.

    Batteries on the grid would actually be much more useful to run large power plants more efficiently. It takes hours to ramp up the power output of a large coal fired plant, largely because of the thermal stresses of increasing the temperature of the boilers. Nuclear plants are even slower. The fission reaction is a long cascade of different processes, with many intermediate unstable atoms. Turning up the plant is like throwing a giant log on the fire. The reactor will continue producing lots of power for days, and a major amount of power for the following weeks.

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