Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Alternative energy news, and information about renewable energy technologies.

Mar 29

Nanotech Batteries – A New Energy Future

Posted in Battery Technology | Energy Inventions | Hybrid Cars

Nanotech Battery People want to use clean and green energy and live easy on earth’s resources. Many are changing to hybrid cars and using solar panels side by side with conventional sources of energy. But they hold a grudge. How to store large amount of energy in batteries? Hybrid cars fit batteries for power storage. But this power is not enough to last long distances and takes many undesirable hours to recharge. The storage battery is not very helpful during acceleration. Solar and wind also don’t provide us with power at constant rate. They give us energy intermittently. Their storage devices also take lots of space and money as well and yet they don’t seem promising for surge demand. Gary Rubloff, who is the director of the University of Maryland’s NanoCenter is also voicing a common consumer’s concern, “Renewable energy sources like solar and wind provide time-varying, somewhat unpredictable energy supply, which must be captured and stored as electrical energy until demanded. Conventional devices to store and deliver electrical energy — batteries and capacitors — cannot achieve the needed combination of high energy density, high power, and fast recharge that are essential for our energy future.”

Scientists at the Maryland NanoCenter at the University of Maryland have produced new systems for storing electrical energy derived from alternative sources that are, in some cases, 10 times more efficient than what is commercially available.

Electrical energy storage devices can be categorized into three groups. Each group has its advantages and disadvantages. Batteries, mainly consisting of lithium ion, accumulate large amounts of energy but cannot afford high power or fast recharge. The second type is electrochemical capacitors (ECCs). Their advantage is they can offer higher power at the price of relatively lower energy density. The third storage device is electrostatic capacitors (ESCs). They store charge on the surfaces of two conductors. This way they are capable of high power and fast recharge, but at the price of lower energy density.

Scientists are using new processes to enhance the storage capacity of the devices. They are banking upon millions of identical nanostructures having peculiar shapes that will facilitate energy transport with the help of electrons. Electrons will move to and fro and store energy at a very large surface area. We all are familiar with the fact that materials behave according to physical laws of nature. The Maryland researchers are using this fact to their advantage. They are utilizing unusual combinations of these behaviors to produce millions and in the end billions of tiny, virtually indistinguishable nanostructures. These are supposed to receive, store, and deliver electrical energy.

Scientists are concentrating on self-assembly, self-limiting reaction, and self-alignment behaviors of nanostructures. Rubloff clarifies further, “The goal for electrical energy storage systems is to simultaneously achieve high power and high energy density to enable the devices to hold large amounts of energy, to deliver that energy at high power, and to recharge rapidly (the complement to high power).”

The Maryland research team is going for electrostatic nanocapacitors. They significantly increase energy storage density of such devices – by a factor of 10 over that of commercially available devices. This advance puts electrostatic devices to a performance level competitive with electrochemical capacitors.

The research team is right from the beginning building up the technology for commercial purposes. Their outward appearance would be like thin solar panels produced at economical costs. Multiple storage devices can be staked one over the other inside a car battery system. For the solar and wind energy storage they dream about the fully integrated with storage devices in manufacturing.

  • Wilf

    While such new technologies are being developed are we also ensuring that we are developing “whole of system” efficiency models that include all externalities? It seems to me that we are hell bent on marching forward without understanding the relative efficiencies compared to low entropy but highly polluting energy systems that we currently have. If the efficiencies are significantly less but more ecologically sound then surely we need to integrate such technology breakthroughs with a concerted effort to contract overall energy consumption (ie if we try to meet existing energy demands with less energy efficient alternatives then the processional effects [bless Bucky Fuller’s profound wisdom]) could have dire consequences. When are we going to start focusing on living less energy-intensively in concert with the technological advances?

    I’m keen to hear peoples thought and feelings on this.



  • Dave

    I agree with Wilf. There’s an analogy with building highways and how that has the net effect of increasing traffic. For energy systems, new supply leads to increased consumption, increased demand, new supply ad nauseum. While I look forward to better energy storage technologies, such as nano-tech based batteries, I know we have to consider the cradle-to-cradle environmental costs. Nano-tech batteries can have much longer lives/extended recharge cycles due to tailoring receptors to the ions, reducing fracturing; there are other benefits, too, such as increased energy density. BUT, as Wilf points out, we have to reduce our own energy intensity. That includes accepting electrical supply not meeting demand sometimes, with brownouts and even blackouts; reduced mobility and independence in travel; and many other reductions in our so-called lifestyle. As I said at an Ontario Hydro hearing a few years back – “Melt my ice cream!” Far preferable to the ongoing catastrophe of climate change.

  • Engr Mark Kunuyi

    Shell is going to be in a big trouble unless something original is done to bring down the cost of oil with fellow oil producing companies. The cost of oil is going to get a lot cheaper with time as a result of the present day alternative sources of energy. With the present day biofuel that can be used in aircrafts, the future is very dim. Alternative incentive could be made with the European union and their contemporaries to get something original to the sales of crude oil. The new target should be in the west coast of Brazil, and the east coast of Mexico.

  • Damian giustini

    Are there no people considering other plausible possibilities? Why not build ocean current turbines not unlike underwater windmills to generate electricity? As an Australian, I would like to see the idea implemented here between Tasmania and Victoria’s almost continuous thrashing waters.

  • UncleTOTO

    The Idea of reducing the energy we use is definitely a good one. There is however one big hurdle – not many people are ready to give up their way of living… Almost no one is ready to give up the big house and use an apartment 50sq mt big, only to be able to use less energy. So, for now using green energy and developing the systems which do not pollute is a very good alternative at an acceptable price. First step… Many to follow.

  • Attaur Rahman

    I am always interested in new technology for storage of energy. I was very happy when i know about fuel cell and advancement in solar cells. But it takes too much time to make it easily available for common people. Now the nano technology is good but i don’t know when it will be easily available for common people and how much will be the price? I am also interested in news updates for batteries technology.

Family-sized Solar Car to Race in World Solar Challenge


Solar Team Great Britain has started a kickstarter page to help fund their design for entry in the 2017 World Solar Challenge. Founder Steven Heape leads a team of volunteers

Top 10 Green Cars – 2015 Vancouver Auto Show


This Tuesday we had a unique opportunity to preview the Vancouver International Auto Show. This year’s show features a wide variety of electric, hydrogen and hybrid-electric vehicles. We took full

Infinyte I4: A Purely Electric Catamaran Cruiser

Infinyte I4: A Purely Electric Catamaran Cruiser

While solar-power electric hybrid vehicles are a proven success story on the roads, the time is ripe for the appearance of solar-electric watercraft. Already a pontoon boat – Loon

MiraQua: A Tiny Miracle

MiraQua: A Tiny Miracle

Today there seems to be more and more and yet more vehicles on the road than ever. Everybody wants to have their own transport and a smaller car with

Best Green Car of 2011: Chevrolet Volt

Best Green Car of 2011: Chevrolet Volt

The 2011 Chevrolet Volt became the first electric car to be chosen as the Green Car of the Year 2011. Chevrolet Volt received this honor at the Los Angeles

USPS Goes Green

USPS Goes Green

In strict adherence to guidelines released by the Department of Energy, the United States Postal Service gets on a fast track to reach the goal for energy reduction. Green

New Battery Warranty for Chevy Volt Owners

New Battery Warranty for Chevy Volt Owners

The Chevrolet Volt is giving its extended range electric vehicle customers a great deal with an eight year/100,000 mile (whichever comes first) warranty for its lithium-ion battery. The battery

eCRP Electric Motorcycle Launches for TTXGP

eCRP Electric Motorcycle Launches for TTXGP

A trip around the eCRP plant headquarters at Modena: The eCRP is the first of its kind of purpose-built electric superbikes, and today it is pitting against the legendary