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