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energy storage technology

Plant-based anodes for lithium batteries

Thu, 08/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Chinese companies Kuraray and Kureha are to produce lithium-ion batteries made from plant-based raw materials at a joint factory in Okayama Prefecture.

Traditionally the anode material comes from graphite but the new factory will use ‘hard carbon’ made from plant materials, including coconut shells.  The effect of using the hard carbon will have a more complex crystal structure than conventional graphite.  This will reduce deterioration occurring because of repeated charge – discharge cycles.

The factory for the joint venture will be built at Kuraray Chemical’s carbon plant and will cost US$ 38 159 000.  Output of the factory should be 1 000 tons of anode material annually.  Building work is due to commence in October with plans for the factory to be operational in Autumn 2013 with plans for expansion already being considered.

Second Life for lithium-ion

Wed, 07/25/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

The ‘second life’ potential of batteries is a hot topic at the moment with the rise in EVs meaning more lithium-ion batteries will be in circulation, including the Nissan Leaf being mass-produced in the UK from 2013.  ABB and Zero Carbon Futures are both researching the potential utilisation of ‘used’ batteries.  When the batteries come out of the cars they would still have around 80% capacity, this would reduce the range of the car but still be sufficient to be put to another application.  Zero Carbon Futures, working alongside Nissan, are researching the energy storage potential of the used batteries for home energy management systems.

Emergency home power from EVs

Mon, 07/23/2012 - 18:02 -- Ruth Williams

Progress is being made to develop EV batteries to be utilised to power homes during times of blackout. Following the 2011 Japanese earthquake much of the country was without electricity, EV batteries were used as a temporary in-home power supply.  Hybrid cars that feature an invertor can have the high-voltage direct current switched to a low-voltage alternating current to supply power back to a home at times of blackout. Nissan are leading the way in advancing this potential, they believe their Leaf car could power a home for up to two days, or individual appliances for far longer.

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