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The Battery Breakthrough we’ve been waiting for March 18, 2009

Posted by federalist in Energy.
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MIT researchers have produced a lithium battery that can charge and discharge almost as quickly as a supercapacitor.  David notes that coupling the energy density of a battery with the power density of a capacitor would make electric cars far more practical: Smaller battery packs could provide extreme torque and full brake regeneration.  You could also fully “refuel” an all-electric car in minutes.

Granted, having solved the power density problems with electric batteries we still won’t be happy until we can also boost stored energy density a few orders of magnitude.  But current lithium chemistry has probably taken us close to the limit of electrical energy density.  Batteries that can store more energy per weight will have to rely on chemical (e.g., fuel cell), nuclear, or antimatter reactions.  (Kinetic batteries like flywheels in practice have not been able to achieve higher energy density than lithium eletric batteries.)

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