Science

New material claimed to store more energy and cost less money than batteries

New material claimed to store ...
The low-cost, high-density energy-storage membrane, created at the National University of Singapore
The low-cost, high-density energy-storage membrane, created at the National University of Singapore
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The low-cost, high-density energy-storage membrane, created at the National University of Singapore
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The low-cost, high-density energy-storage membrane, created at the National University of Singapore

Researchers from the National University of Singapore's Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NUSNNI) have created what they claim is the world's first energy-storage membrane. Not only is the material soft and foldable, but it doesn't incorporate liquid electrolytes that can spill out if it's damaged, it's more cost-effective than capacitors or traditional batteries, and it's reportedly capable of storing more energy.

The membrane is made from a polystyrene-based polymer, which is sandwiched between two metal plates. When charged by those plates, it can store the energy at a rate of 0.2 farads per square centimeter - standard capacitors, by contrast, can typically only manage an upper limit of 1 microfarad per square centimeter.

Due in part to the membrane's low fabrication costs, the cost of storing energy in it reportedly works out to 72 cents US per farad. According to the researchers, the cost for standard liquid electrolyte-based batteries is more like US$7 per farad. This in turn translates to an energy cost of 2.5 watt-hours per US dollar for lithium-ion batteries, whereas the membrane comes in at 10-20 watt-hours per dollar.

Details on how the material works, along with data on factors such as charging/discharging times and longevity have not yet been released. Principle investigator Dr. Xie Xian Ning, however, has stated "The performance of the membrane surpasses those of rechargeable batteries, such as lithium ion and lead-acid batteries, and supercapacitors."

The NUSNNI team is now looking into opportunities for commercializing the technology.

31 comments
Nacho Lotitto
Please God let this be real... the planet needs it.
D-Shift
Why post claims like that without releasing some more data, its meaningless! Still, I hope its true, lithium ion sucks.
Dana Lawton
Interesting... if the story were out of China, Korea even Japan I might doubt it... but the Government of Singapore does not look kindly on companies that might sully Singapore\'s reputation. That said... I\'ve seen about 20 new promising battery technologies in the last couple of years and so far... nothing. Come on... we need a much better battery now.
John Hogan
Cautiously excited. If its viable, its still 10 years away.
Todd Dunning
Why do we always read great stories about new battery tech but the researchers seem to fail to license the technology out?
TankThinker
Until there is a prototype that has been verified by a respected third-party lab like NREL take all claims with a grain of salt.
Most of the wild claims and inventions you read about are a call for research dollars. The devil is in the details and most technologies fail well before the scale-up to mass production (which also weeds out a massive percentage of candidates). Many start-ups are simply scams with no intention of bringing anything to market.
For battery lovers, remember EEstor - the super capacitor that never even delivered a prototype yet managed to keep the industry and investors interested for almost a decade.
jimbo92107
Have to agree with the skeptics on this one. How many whizzbang new battery technologies have we heard about over the past couple years, ten? Twenty?
Last I looked, not a single new battery tech has hit the shelves since NiMH. The new ferrous Lion batteries are just a slight mod of the existing stuff. Mountains of used throwaway batteries are littering landfills (or getting burned into the atmosphere), and rechargables still have pathetically small capacity, even the expensive lithiums.
Singapore, if you\'ve got something good, bring it. World needs saving, homes.
Eduardo RG
I think that I hear about 10 new designs of batteries every month that at least double the capacity, 10 times cheaper to build than Li-Ion batteries. After three years of this. I just simply don´t believe in them.
Scion
The problem with these sorts of things is the technology is usually just a series of mathematical equations that result in the given numbers. If there is an actual working prototype it usually only works under very particular lab conditions like temperature and humidity etc... Then when someone tries to commercialise it they find the battery won\'t work in normal temperature ranges eg: -10 - 50 centigrade or won\'t scale up beyond something the size of your fingernail. I\'m constantly reading about some new energy tech that will mean solar power will cost half coal power and be so easy to make you can do it at home etc... never happens. Call me jaded but theoretical energy storage isn\'t much good.
Kent Beuchert
If these folks are talking commercialization already, then the damn thing must work and not require any further development. I bet on nano science a while back as the most likely venue for a breakthru.