Welcome to "This Week in Batteries" (TWIB for short). Electrochemical energy storage, or batteries, if you prefer, seems to be all over the news lately, and for good reason. Without getting into any controversy about global warming, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or the wisdom of debating complex science by email, I think we can all agree that humans would be better off if we cut back the amount of CO2 that we put into Earth’s atmosphere, and that reducing our dependence on oil is one big step toward that. (I suppose you may disagree if you work for an oil company!)
Improved batteries are a fundamental element of enabling this, whether for transportation or for power grid storage.
But with interest comes hype, and misinformation. And there is a lot of it when it comes to batteries! My purpose in starting this blog is to be an (arguably) independent expert evaluating the various news items that come across my virtual, desk and provide some objective analysis to help you separate the truth from the hype.
The name TWIB is a take on TWIT, which stands for "This Week in Tech", a podcast by Leo Laporte (see http://twit.tv/). TWIT is one of the top-rated tech podcasts out there and has spawned a whole lot of "This Week in.." podcasts, including "This Week in Law", "...in Google" etc. A combination of an iPhone and TWIT is guaranteed to make sure you are not bored for the hour you spend on the treadmill everyday, but that's for another blog.
Leo appears to be running a grand franchise with sponsors, etc. I do not have any sponsors (but would love some. Call me), and have rent to pay. So I have a day job as a Staff Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and this blog's upkeep will be subject to me hanging on to that day job. The "This Week" portion of TWIB may be a tad optimistic, but, hey, one can hope. I promise that I will be online everytime there is a newsworthy event.
I will start the blog with a few generic postings to set the stage for what is possible with batteries. We will start by talking about limits of energy density of batteries and ask why the development of batteries has not proceeded as well as in, say, semiconductors (short answer: moving electrons is one thing, reacting them is a whole other story). I'll also say something about the problems in getting PHEVs/EVs on the road (in a word: cost) and ask if nanotechnology is the answer to all our problems (not really, but it has its uses). I will also deviate a bit from my comfort zone, go crazy, and say a few things about making money in the battery business (Anyone thinking about making money in the battery business is obviously crazy!)
So let’s hope you have fun reading this blog (and let’s hope I have fun writing it).