Saturday, March 19, 2011

One year and a change in TWiB

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been in conversation with the folks at GigaOm network to be a guest writer for their cleantech blog called Earth2Tech

After consulting with my employer (Lawrence Berkeley Lab), I have signed an agreement with GigaOm to be a guest writer.

What this means is that when I write a blog I will send it to them.  If they think the post meets their needs, then it will appear on their site.  This page will be updated with a small abstract of that post and a link to their site. 

If GigaOm decides to not use that post, then the post will appear, in its entirety, on this page. 

This Week in Batteries started just over a year ago on Feb 9, 2010.  Over the last year, I have made ~30 posts on subjects ranging from the costs of PHEVs, the way to make a battery last longer, the batteries in your Roomba, all the way to how to calculate the energy density of a battery.

Making a blog post has become a hobby for me (probably the first true hobby I have ever had.  Collecting stamps just did not cut it!).  But like all hobbies it tends to be a fairly low item on the priority list.  Regular readers will have noticed the long hiatus’ I have taken when work has demanded more of my hours. 

When I wake up on a Sunday and feel like writing, I spend the morning making a post.  If I have something else to do, then I don’t make a post.   On average, I probably spend 2 hours on a blog post. 

The return on the 2 h investment has been very gratifying.  I average 5000 hits a month (please don’t ask how many of those are self hits!) with a peak at 10,000.

I have also become convinced that if I really worked at it, I could make this blog popular.  But this requires a lot more of my time.  And even if I did spend the time, I’m not sure how much more popular I can make it. 

On the other hand, GigaOm gets 4 million hits a month.  And some of their blog posts gets picked up by the New York Times, CNN, Business Week, and The Street. 

Being able to get my posts onto GigaOm increases the visibility of this blog significantly, so the relationship is a no brainer. 

The first post is now up on their site.  Its called the “The Three Laws of Batteries (and a Bonus Zeroth Law)”.  Check it out.   They even added some nice pictures to accompany the words. 

For the regular readers of this blog, this only means that you will need to, occasionally, click on one more link before you can read my post.

So wish me luck.



  1. Congrats! GigaOm is good stuff; I'm glad to hear that you're syndicating with them.

    And given that I already have them in my RSS reader, everything shall continue as normal. =)

  2. 2nd that.
    the luck has granted...

  3. Congratulations. I have enjoyed your writing, and I can only hope that with someone paying you I might get to read more of your postings.

  4. Thanks for the comments.
    No payment folks. They get me for free. I will still be hanging on to my day job.


  5. Congrats on the distribution deal! Glad to hear that you'll be exposed to a wider audience. If you haven't already, I think posting a counter
    (or maybe support?) to Dan Nocera's views on batteries may generate quite a few hits for you. Here's some of what he has expressed:

    “Don’t let anybody tell you batteries are going to get better. They can’t, it’s physically impossible.” Batteries are made of electrons on metal with oxygen in between; without a way to compress matter and make it more dense, battery store can’t improve, ever. What people can speak to is “power density” — but on the whole, batteries are “lousy, lousy, lousy, lousy.”

    - "Daniel Nocera on personalized energy"
    (POP!TECH, October 23, 2009 UTC)

    "Batteries are low energy density storage devices with little room for improvement. In a battery, the electrons must reside on atoms within the anode and cathode. The volume in which the electron and attendant cation reside, and transfer is thus limited by the physical density of materials composing the cathode, anode, and electrolyte. Some of the lightest elements in the periodic table, and hence lowest physical densities, are already used as battery materials, and consequently energy densities of batteries have approached a ceiling. For instance, the promise of lithium-ion batteries derives directly from the fact that Li is the third lightest element in the periodic table. Hence its use as an ion in the battery leads directly to the increased energy density. Continuing along these lines, all-liquid batteries and metal−air batteries (metals = zinc, magnesium, lithium) have the highest theoretical energy density because of the reduction of oxygen from air at the cathode; notwithstanding, practical energy densities will be far less. With energy
    density largely constrained by the physical properties of battery materials, most advances in battery technologies have come in the power density and cycle lifetime of architectural designs of the anode, cathode, and electrolyte, especially in the nanodomain, lead to increased power (not energy) densities and cycle lifetimes."

    - "Solar Energy Supply and Storage for the
    Legacy and Nonlegacy Worlds"
    (Chem. Rev., 2010, 110)

  6. Have you written an article regarding usage of batteries in stand alone photovoltaics?

  7. Congratulations Venkat. I as many others have thoroughly enjoyed your insightful writing. This is the next chapter in that.

    Look forward to read more, in both of these places and elsewhere as well.

  8. Venkat - Congrats! Maybe GigaOhm would like a post discussing the validity of the DBM 68kWh battery pack that can pump out ~300mi between each 6 minute charge...

    I apprecaite your battery insight and would love to hear your opinion on this subject.

  9. I've had good luck with NiZn batteries. I saw a decent deal on dealnews for an 4pack with charger for less then $10 and tried them out. They claim to be 1.6V as compared to the usual 1.2V for most rechargeable. Has anyone had any issues with them? I'm a little surprised they are not very popular. Thanks:)
    1.2V-12V Ac Dc Adapter