4WD MODIFICATIONS - TECH TORQUE
We try not to get excited about battery breakthroughs, but this simple design seems to hold more promise than complex technologies. Let’s hope!
Although we 4WDers are anxious to have a lightweight, quickly-rechargeable power source when we’re camped in remote areas this demand isn’t anywhere near enough to justify the millions of R&D dollars currently being poured into battery innovation and development around the world.
That’s being driven by the need for renewable energy on a massive scale and enlightened governments have already set targets for energy producers.
The global goal is to increase the access to renewable energy, which currently accounts for 21 percent of all electricity generated worldwide but only around 11 percent of consumption. California has taken that goal literally, requiring that power companies install 1.3 gigawatts of energy storage by 2020.
The need for improved batteries is essential to meet renewable energy targets and it’s also vital in improving the takeup of electric vehicles. Whatever turns out to be the best solution will most likely be downsized to replace existing battery types, from 4WD batteries to those in mobile phones.
Our present short-sighted Federal Government may not see any benefit from renewable energy R&D, but that means we’ll just fall behind other countries in the race for renewables. It also means that we’ll rely totally on imported batteries in the future.
The carbon battery
US battery maker Axion Power is already producing activated carbon batteries in commercial quantities. Its PowerCube is a truck-sized energy storage unit that can send power to or receive power from the electricity grid. It’s capable of delivering one megawatt of power for 30 minutes or 100 kilowatts for 10 hours.
AdvEn Solutions, another US technology development company, is working on a smaller carbon battery. The company says that the advantages of using carbon are that it is cost-effective and safe to use, and the energy output is five to eight times higher than lithium-ion batteries currently on the market.
The new battery is also said to perform better than prototype lithium-sulphur batteries and lithium-air batteries.
The Ryden dual-carbon battery, developed by Power Japan Plus, has both the anode and the cathode made of carbon. Positively charged lithium ions flow to the anode and the negatively charged anions flow to the cathode.
A dual-carbon battery design was developed in the 1970s in Japan, but the available technology didn’t exploit the concept. Tatsumi Ishihara, an applied chemistry professor at Kyushu University, began working on the dual-carbon battery design in the early 2000s, employing ‘carbon complex’, an organic carbon derived from cotton. Professor Ishihara recenty joined Dr Kaname Takeya and Power Japan Plus to bring the dual-carbon battery into production.
Power Japan Plus claims that the dual-carbon battery can be recharged at 20 times the rate of current lithium ion batteries and there is no temperature change during operation or charging. Total discharge is said not to harm the dual-carbon battery.
The Ryden battery offers the same energy density of current lithium-ion batteries, so would require recharging after the same amount of energy depletion, but recharging is said to be much quicker.