Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

DOE Wants 5X Improvement In Batteries In 5 Years

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the charging-scientists-with-this-task dept.

Government 305

dcblogs writes "The U.S. Dept. of Energy has set a goal to develop battery and energy storage technologies that are five times more powerful and five times cheaper within five years. DOE is creating a new center at Argonne National Laboratory, at a cost of $120 million over five years, that's intended to reproduce development environments that were successfully used by Bell Laboratories and World War II's Manhattan Project. 'When you had to deliver the goods very, very quickly, you needed to put the best scientists next to the best engineers across disciplines to get very focused,' said U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, on Friday. The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research isn't designed to seek incremental improvements in existing technologies. This technology hub, according to DOE's solicitation (PDF), 'should foster new energy storage designs that begin with a "clean sheet of paper" — overcoming current manufacturing limitations through innovation to reduce complexity and cost.' Other research labs, universities and private companies are participating in the effort."

cancel ×

305 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Linux sucks big dicks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149123)

Eat my asshole you Linux-using lusers!!

Re:Linux sucks big dicks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149213)

I would love that, which town live?

Re:Linux sucks big dicks (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149271)

For the record, I am cannibal, not gay...

Re:Linux sucks big dicks (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149253)

U mad bro?

Re:Linux sucks big dicks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149299)

About what? That Linux twerps toss a good salad? Why would I be?

Re:Linux sucks big dicks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149301)

I dont see anything on this story which relates to linux in any way whatsoever. Don't know why you would hate people who only want to change the world for the better by using a free operating system instead of the many walled gardens out there.

by the way it was steve jobs and ballmer who are known for s*cking b*g d*cks

LOL

Chu! (5, Insightful)

mrbluejello (189775) | about 2 years ago | (#42149223)

It's so refreshing having a Secretary of Energy that actually knows something about energy and physics, rather than somebody who just knows how to dig carbon out of the ground.

Re:Chu! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149417)

Oh ya, sorry I had to laugh so hard when I heard the words government and best in the same sentence coming from the current administration....well at least it was a good laugh for friday.

Re:Chu! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149483)

Right. As if the Bush administration was such a boon to science?

Re:Chu! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149497)

And his brother Alex is doing great work on longevity enhancement [alexchiu.com] .

Re:Chu! (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149503)

Chu is just as one dimensional and more of the same politically driven science, he's just on the opposite side as the oil men. I'd prefer our energy policy be driven by what makes economic and scientific sense, not directed at doing what either a carbon lobby or a climate change lobby wants.

Re:Chu! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149693)

I don't know, the Windows program at LBNL was his baby and it's way better than anything I've seen the oil companies put out for public users. It was very cool to be able to simulate the performance of the south-facing windows we installed when we built the new house at the bottom of the recession. Now if the congress critters would just stop being stupid and doing one-size-fits all specs for "high peformance windows" things would be better -- congress assumes that everybody lives in a cooling climate and needs windows that limit heat gain. I'm in a heating climate --- high perf for me is high solar gain.

Re:Chu! (4, Funny)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42149783)

Chu is just as one dimensional ...

Nonsense. In addition to his many accomplishments in physics, he has contributed to several other fields, and even invented the Scroll Lock Key [explainxkcd.com] , which was a major advance for personal computers of the time.

Re:Chu! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149975)

Chu is just as one dimensional and more of the same politically driven science, he's just on the opposite side as the oil men. I'd prefer our energy policy be driven by what makes economic and scientific sense, not directed at doing what either a carbon lobby or a climate change lobby wants.

That may be, but it doesn't really apply here. Batteries need energy and that can come from fossil fuels more easily as sustainable sources. Batteries are green, because they get rid of lots of tiny pollution sources (and demand shifting). The political motivation behind this is probably make work for a national laboratory. Since the end of the cold war, they've been desperately trying to find something to do beyond new ways to kill people.

Re:Chu! (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42150453)

Batteries are green, because they get rid of lots of tiny pollution sources (and demand shifting). The political motivation behind this is probably make work for a national laboratory. Since the end of the cold war, they've been desperately trying to find something to do beyond new ways to kill people.

Not all Batteries are green when you consider the total life cycle.

But given that a rechargeable battery allows energy portability, which is worth a great deal, they may be greener than schemes that
rely on continuous.

But what is missing with this 5 in 5 plan is practicality.

The best minds in the world have been laboring on this for years, and progress is pretty slow. Results are proprietary, patented, secret.
If Chou things he can pry these secrets out of the hands of the corporate overlords, or he things he can field any new tech that won't be
instantly assaulted by patent lawyers and trolls he is crazy.

Anything developed here will, to the extent it sees the light of day, not be marketed without huge patent encumbrances tacked on by
dodgy players who will take any research discoveries, and plaster them with patents, and sue any others that try the same thing.
(Rambus ring any bells?) Unless the Government is going into the battery business,

DARPA's success isn't likely to be replicated in the world of patent trolls.

Re:Chu! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149613)

Want in one hand and crap in the other, then you can tell me in 5 years which got full first. The secret isn't finding in higher energy density battery technology but in finding one that you are willing (liability wise) to release to Joe and Jane Public.

Re:Chu! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149751)

Right. 5 years to develop 5X cheaper and 5X more energy dense? How gullible are you?

The free market doesn't solve all problems, but any company that could deliver this would make hundreds of billions of dollars. Why aren't they doing it? Because nobody knows how!

This $120 million is good research, but it isn't going to deliver. Dr. Chu will certainly be glad that the deadline is past the time that he will be out of office.

2017? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42150201)

Right. 5 years to develop 5X cheaper and 5X more energy dense? How gullible are you?

The free market doesn't solve all problems, but any company that could deliver this would make hundreds of billions of dollars. Why aren't they doing it? Because nobody knows how!

This $120 million is good research, but it isn't going to deliver. Dr. Chu will certainly be glad that the deadline is past the time that he will be out of office.

Even if it does this project does work out, five years is just long enough for Jeb Bush to cancel it at the behest of the oil industry during his first presidential term.

Molten Salt Batteries (5, Informative)

catchblue22 (1004569) | about 2 years ago | (#42149801)

The idea of molten salt batteries [wikipedia.org] sounds quite intriguing to me, especially for bulk utility level energy storage. In this TED talk [ted.com] , MIT professor Donald Sadoway details his designs and describes the models he has already built. In short, the idea is to have two liquid metals, one less dense and one more dense. In the middle is a layer of molten salt. The less dense molten metal floats on the top. In the middle is the molten salt, and at the bottom is the more dense molten metal. The molten salt acts as the electrolyte in the cell, and the two different metals pass electrons around due to their different electron affinities.

When building these cells, they would use common cheap materials, so that the cost of this type of battery would be trivial compared with the amount of energy it can store. The fact that the cell is molten is actually an advantage. We spend huge effort in our current electrochemical cells trying to keep them cool. This type of cell would thrive on heat...indeed the energy used in charging and discharging it would help keep the metals and the salt molten.

Clearly this type of cell would not be used to power your laptop or cellphone directly, but it could be used to store energy from solar panels on your rooftop, or to store energy from large solar power plants for use in the night. As always, I am sure there are bugs to work out, but really, this sounds incredibly promising.

Re:Molten Salt Batteries (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#42150505)

We need portable energy, and molten anything is not an answer.

Its easy to give a Ted Talk, its a lot harder to offer up a practical idea. (Just look at how many TED talks are nothing but TED Talks).

Re:Molten Salt Batteries (1)

amorsen (7485) | about 2 years ago | (#42150509)

The loss of heat makes molten salt batteries impractical for house use. The bare minimum size that makes sense is probably somewhere like the size of the average house, but you really want them much much larger.

ugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149235)

About time!

I predict a Chinese cluster with no real results.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149293)

...which is the nearly inevitable outcome of politicians making political decisions and political "investments" in things about which they actually manage to know less than nothing.

Rob H.

Negative Knowledge: Things you are certain of, which are absolutely wrong.

Re:I predict a Chinese cluster with no real result (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42149399)

Well, we can't all be renowned scientist and expert in battery technology "Rob H.".

Oil independant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149343)

We're finally concerned with starting to cut our dependencies on oil? Nice.

Re:Oil independant (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149475)

how about some fusion power? if hot is too hard, how about colder fusion and lenr?

pff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149373)

The DOE should really google more...
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja209759s

Wrong direction (2)

bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) | about 2 years ago | (#42149401)

What they really need to do is make it a spec for the next DoD project and it will get done. Making batteries for the sake of batteries isn't going to provide the payback that a usable product would. Didn't the Apollo program bring us the 8-bit microprocessor? How do you think the 8-bit micro would have turned out if we just made it without a purpose?

Re:Wrong direction (5, Informative)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42149473)

Didn't the Apollo program bring us the 8-bit microprocessor?

No, it didn't. Intel did in 1971 with the 8008.

Re:Wrong direction (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#42149487)

That was meant to be 1972.

Re:Wrong direction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42150129)

Intel released the 4004 in 1971. The first '8-bit' processor was indeed in 1972.

Re:Wrong direction (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 2 years ago | (#42149699)

Well energy storage is a general problem, it does not make sense to add on a specific goal to such a general need.

Re:Wrong direction (5, Informative)

Ellis D. Tripp (755736) | about 2 years ago | (#42150261)

Didn't the Apollo program bring us the 8-bit microprocessor?,

Nope. Not even the 4-bit.

The Apollo guidance computer didn't use a microprocessor at all. It was built from thousands of individual RTL 3-imput NOR gates:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_Guidance_Computer [wikipedia.org]

There they go again! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149403)

The government, picking winners and losers!

The free market should solve this problem just like it has already, with a dependence on millions of years of solar investment which is harvested at low cost from foreign locations!

Re:There they go again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149701)

The government wants to stock up on batteries for when fossil fuels run out and the solar array on top of the White House can't be replaced due to the trade war with China.

They are acting as a consumer in this case, not as a dictatorship.

Re:There they go again! (3, Informative)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42150079)

The free market should solve this problem ...

Free markets can solve many problems, but they don't solve everything. There are plenty of examples of market failures [wikipedia.org] , and this is one of them. If someone invents a battery that is 5x cheaper and better, they will make a lot of money. But the benefits to society at large will be MUCH larger. We will save hundreds of billions on oil we will no longer need to import, hundreds of billions more on defense spending cuts since we no longer have to protect oil shipping lanes, many billions more from time-shifting baseload electricity, and even more billions from reduced AGW. But very few of these savings will flow into the pocket of the innovator. So government intervention in the market is justified.

But there are still important free market principles that can be applied here. If the government just hands out grant money, little is likely to be achieved. It is much better to set this up as a competition, and offer specific monetary prizes for meeting certain milestones. Look at the Ansari X-Prize and the DARPA Grand Challange as models. They were able to accomplish a lot by drawing in diverse talents and rewarding success.

Re:There they go again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42150165)

The government, picking winners and losers!

I'm not sure if you're serious or just don't know what you're talking about, but no, this isn't picking winners and losers.

Giving A123 Systems [nytimes.com] a 132 million dollar grant is picking winners and losers.

This is funding research into a problem that needs solving. Argonne National Laboratory is already set up to do research, so all they need is some bright scientists and engineers to get started.

Having said that, I think a 5 time improvement in battery technology is optimistic, but at least they're trying.

Re:There they go again! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42150421)

Yeah, they do love to pretend they're doing something useful, wile they steal resources from the private sector.

Fail (0, Troll)

iliketrash (624051) | about 2 years ago | (#42149415)

This, too, will fail.

Re:Fail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149709)

Even if they double battery power and keep the price the same in five years time this project will be a massive win.

Re:Fail (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#42150181)


Even if they double battery power and keep the price the same in five years time this project will be a massive win.

Many companies have spent more than $120M and not achieved a doubling in capacity. With government efficiency at play, this appears to be nothing more than a feel-good program for politicians to talk about. They'd be better off spending the $120M on ponies for fifty thousand little girls for all the good it will do.

Re:Fail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149995)

Depends on your definition of fail. The solar invenstment Obama did in his first term were a complete success in enriching his campaign supporters for his election bid. They didn't produce any scientific advancement, but that wasn't the intention.

When a company of 700 employees goes bankrupt a couple of months after getting $500 million, there was no plan to be successful. There was only a plan to get a government backed loan and bail once the check cleared.

Re:Fail (2)

timeOday (582209) | about 2 years ago | (#42150017)

I hope it "fails" just like solar research [scientificamerican.com] has - about a 90% cost reduction in 30 years.

Re:Fail (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 2 years ago | (#42150035)

It is easy to succeed. Borrowing from the Dept. Of Education Standards, as long as you get 1x improvement per year for 5 years......
Oh wait

Just Dictate & it will Happen... (0, Troll)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#42149429)

Wow, now we know how to do scientific and engineering advances. Just pile all the money from the extra taxes we will pay into the government's idea of what should work. Now that is going to be efficient use of capital, right?

Just as an aside. If you get a battery that is 5 times as powerful, you start to get to the point of having a nice little bomb in your pocket when something goes wrong. Ultra high energy densities is what makes batteries dangerous today when something goes wrong with a lithium ion and they smoke and ruin things.

With 5 times as much energy density, when they go poof, it might literally be a bang up mess.

Re:Just Dictate & it will Happen... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149513)

I must have missed the part where the government is requiring these new, powerful batteries to be used in wrist watches.

Re:Just Dictate & it will Happen... (1)

newyorkdude (844311) | about 2 years ago | (#42149609)

Actually, in case you've been in the dark, the national labs do know how to do scientific advances. Not all batteries are equally hazardous. Obviously they're gearing toward automobile applications. We know a troll when we see one.

Re:Just Dictate & it will Happen... (4, Interesting)

GrahamCox (741991) | about 2 years ago | (#42149675)

Even worse, what about something with nearly 100x the energy density? I mean, imagine how dangerous an automobile would be with that amount of energy on board, in the hands of clueless idiots who can't drive?

Oh, wait...

Re:Just Dictate & it will Happen... (4, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#42149797)

Funny story... coming back from a photo assignment, I discovered while on the freeway why you do not put fully charged high current rechargeable batteries in the same pocket as a handfull of change. (sniff ... "What's that... OH MY GOD." And then try to pull off the road safely while your pants are literally on fire.)

Well, I can see the humor *now*. It wasn't funny at the time.

But seriously, a lot of current systems (your car's gas tank, for instance) have a significant amount of stored up energy. The companies that don't put adequate safeguards in place will pay out in the courts and perhaps go out of business. I don't see this as a valid concern. The pants on fire thing, that was me being an idiot. I got a good lesson out of the experience. And a small scar.

So...? (4, Insightful)

GeneralEmergency (240687) | about 2 years ago | (#42149435)

. ...I want a pony. Betcha I get my wish first.

To think that there is not a HUGE amount of academic and commercial research in this area already is absurd. The previous 5 years has produced results that directly made a 10 hour iPad possible. If you want to spend tax dollars on this, make it an X-Prize like contest.

This plan, as laid out, smells like "Workfare for Scientists".

.

Re:So...? (3, Funny)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#42149833)

I want a pony that flies. I bet I'll get *my* wish first.

Re:So...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42150249)

. ...I want a pony. Betcha I get my wish first.

And if you get a pony, the rest of humanity benefits how?

If they are even half as successful as they are setting goals for, this will have a tremendous ripple effect on technology and society will benefit. If you only get half of a pony however...

Re:So...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42150275)

I want your life to be sad and meaningless .... Oh! I already have may wish and it is not even chrismast yet ... Thank you Santa.

Pocket change (5, Interesting)

ebonum (830686) | about 2 years ago | (#42149449)

Industry has been pouring billions into research. How is $120 million over five years going to do anything?

Anyone who invents a technology ( and production process to keep it cheap ) to get a 5x improvement will be a billionaire over night. If you are going to do this, do it right and spend some real money. How about 250 million a year over 5 years? btw. The if the US government pays for it, the US government should patent everything and get a 5x return for the taxpayers.

Re:Pocket change (1)

newyorkdude (844311) | about 2 years ago | (#42149565)

Argonne has a lot of pertinent facilities, skill and technology. IIRC, Argonne licenses patents for $100 a piece. They can always demand more funding and from other agencies too in successive years.

US government should patent everything? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#42149733)

Then the patent belongs to the people, which includes American business.

Everything the government develops, that isn't classified, is in the public domain, as it should be as *I* paid for it.

Re:US government should patent everything? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149891)

It's a good idea, because many (most?) of the batteries will be sold outside the United States. If they are patented, the American people will get benefit from those sales.

Re:Pocket change (1)

Libertarian_Geek (691416) | about 2 years ago | (#42149767)

Industry has been pouring billions into research. How is $120 million over five years going to do anything?

Anyone who invents a technology ( and production process to keep it cheap ) to get a 5x improvement will be a billionaire over night. If you are going to do this, do it right and spend some real money. How about 250 million a year over 5 years? btw. The if the US government pays for it, the US government should patent everything and get a 5x return for the taxpayers.

The consumer/taxpayer gets money taken out of their paycheck for federal income taxes for R&D. The government would spend the money on research and development. Once developed and patented, the government would collect royalties on the patent from the corporations who would pass the cost on to the consumer in the cost of products and services.

Once again, the consumer takes it in the rear. I say let industry continue to pour money into research and leave out the government middle-man.

Re:Pocket change (1)

Bengie (1121981) | about 2 years ago | (#42149789)

Too many patents for the private sector to navigate. If the government does the research and gives it out for free, then there's no questions. I don't know, just babbling.

Re:Pocket change (2)

TheEffigy (2666397) | about 2 years ago | (#42149913)

Industry has been pouring billions into research. How is $120 million over five years going to do anything?

Anyone who invents a technology ( and production process to keep it cheap ) to get a 5x improvement will be a billionaire over night. If you are going to do this, do it right and spend some real money. How about 250 million a year over 5 years? btw. The if the US government pays for it, the US government should patent everything and get a 5x return for the taxpayers.

While I agree more money would be awesome (and surely if they're doing good things it will come), you don't seem to get the premise. The industry isn't pouring all of their "billions" into a collective research environment with the aim of brand new tech. It is fragmented with the majority of players focused on iterative improvements to the existing technology which they're already heavily invested in. It's not easy to sell R&D costs to shareholders when there is nothing other than a goal, investors want to see a real plan and predicted returns from day one.

Re:Pocket change (4, Insightful)

skids (119237) | about 2 years ago | (#42150397)

Industry only pours money into research they think they will help their own company exclusively and/or which they can turn around into a profit in under X business quarters.

These national labs do the basic research that industry fails to fund.

And I want rainbows and unicorns! (1)

FoolishBluntman (880780) | about 2 years ago | (#42149451)

Just because you want something, it doesn't mean you'll get it.
We'll see if $120 Million is enough to make a difference.
The problem with gasoline is that is has such great energy density, about 46 Mega-joules per kilogram.
The best batteries currently are Lithium with an energy density of 1.8 Mega-Joules per kilogram.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy_density [wikipedia.org]

No rainbows and unicorns, will Pink Ponies do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149683)

OMG Ponies [google.com]

You know Slashdot has Karma when your Captcha is trauma. No, seriously, the captcha for this post is trauma.

The problem is a bit complex (3, Insightful)

RobertLTux (260313) | about 2 years ago | (#42149731)

Okay so you create a battery that can be made cheaply and outputs X amount of Volts and Y amount of Amperage per gram of weight.

1 what does the discharge curve look like?? (how quick does it drop voltage/amperage)
2 exactly how toxic is the stuff inside?
3 what happens if it gets shorted??
4 how easy is it to recharge SAFELY??
5 what about heat??

it does no good to create a ZPM if dropping it causes an explosion in the C4 range or having a battery that has a sloped power curve (so that half power = half voltage).

I want unicorns that fart rainbows too (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149455)

So are we ignoring the pointed fact that no amount of dollars can guarantee a technological revolution? Money has poured into battery development before and the financial incentive for being successful there is already immense. Funding development of original research is great but attaching a goal like that to it is foolish.

Math fail (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149471)

5 x more powerful and 5 x cheaper sounds like 25 x improvement to me.

Re:Math fail (2)

zippthorne (748122) | about 2 years ago | (#42149893)

No, they're somewhat orthogonal improvements. So, it's really more like a 7x improvement...

5X Improvement? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149479)

More like 25X improvement. 5X more storage AND 5X cheaper means 25X the storage per dollar.

Guess what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149501)

I want 5X more salary in the next 5 years too.
Doesn't mean I'm going to get it however.

It's about time! (1)

rts008 (812749) | about 2 years ago | (#42149505)

I hate power cords with a passion!

It would be great to see something like the microfusion cells, or small energy cells from the Fallout games. When I played FO1 and ran across those for the first time, I was intrigued and fascinated.

Technology deliberately stifled (4, Interesting)

Beerdood (1451859) | about 2 years ago | (#42149511)

[wikipedia.org] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_encumbrance_of_large_automotive_NiMH_batteries [wikipedia.org]

Sorry for a wiki link, too lazy to look up more sources. Basically we'd have better battery technology if Oil & Car companies didn't deliberately stifle technology

Enough $? (5, Insightful)

markdavis (642305) | about 2 years ago | (#42149525)

$120 million really doesn't sound like enough money to me to solve a problem that has been the bane of thousands of electronics companies for many decades....

Still, this is a VERY worthy cause. Batteries have improved a lot over the years, but not nearly fast enough to keep up with what we need. Especially important as we move ever closer to electric cars (I would just LOVE to have one).

And it isn't just the capacity and price that is important- safety and component scarcity and disposal concerns should be addressed too.

Re:Enough $? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149791)

Why not ask for world peace while your at it?

Re:Enough $? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 2 years ago | (#42149971)

I believe magnets are the biggest issue or more specifically rare earth magnets. Batteries are great but we'll need efficient motors to go with them and that requires rare earth minerals which are in heavy demand and tightly controlled.

Re:Enough $? (2)

Bengie (1121981) | about 2 years ago | (#42150051)

IBM's senior research engineer thought we'd have batteries with 100x the storage in the next 10 years and he only said this a few years back. I have read about a new battery tech that was in the safety testing phase that could recharge 10x faster than current batteries and could hold about 10x-100x the charge for the same size. It already works functionally, it just needs to be shown to not be a fire hazard and pass a lot of testing.

Prediction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149539)

The DOE will go "D'oh!"

Gotta do something useful with the brainpower (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149573)

May as well, since they're planning on shutting most if not all of the Tevatron research down. There's a lot of highly skilled and qualified people with electrical and electronics knowhow as well as physics (at least those not running out to Sandia or flying off to Europe to continue research on the high-energy stuff). It would be a waste to not have them do something to pick up the slack, and this would also prevent the brain drain that would happen if they all ran off to different places. Looks like a good opportunity in a place where such jobs are still very-much needed.

Also it's not that far geographically from Motorola in regards to joint efforts geared towards electronics, or Ford's Chicago factory or Chrysler's Belvidere plant if automotive power systems research is something they'd like to do. With this in mind, it would be stupid to let it go to waste.

Making babies (2, Interesting)

jamesl (106902) | about 2 years ago | (#42149587)

We all know that nine women can't make a baby in one month but Chu thinks that they can if they work for the government and he throws enough money at them.

Five years is conveniently after the current administration has left the building.

Re:Making babies (2)

vell0cet (1055494) | about 2 years ago | (#42149745)

"A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at."

    -- Bruce Lee

Re:Making babies (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 2 years ago | (#42150255)

"A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at."

Indeed. Lets say this project made no improvement in capacity, and only acheived a 2 fold reduction in cost. That would be a HUGE improvement, and go a long way toward making electric/hybrid cars economically viable. That would be worth it even for ten times the investment of $120M.

about (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42149659)

fucking time.

Maybe they know something we don't.. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149671)

Perhaps the DOE knows we're going to run out of cheap hydrocarbon fuel faster than we can manage. 5x improvement in current battery storage density (per weight) will make affordable and practical electric vehicles pretty much pop up over night.

We can improve electric infrastructure. Petrol fuel transportation and distribution is actually pretty expensive and energy consuming we just take it for granted because it's already here and we've been doing it for a long time. Did you know the cost of actually shipping and moving fuel is one of the biggest factors in it's price? Fuel prices are high because refineries are on coast lines and those endless millions of galons have to be trucked everywhere. It's also one of the biggest lies of omission when petrol fuel proponents talk about pollution. They conveniently ignore the total energy cost/emission cost of the fuel distribution infrastructure itself.

Yeah, you'd still have to generate the energy. Even if you burn things to make it think about this: What's more efficient? A few large plant-sized generators or millions of little generators you have to carry around in cars? Also, is it easier to sequester and capture emissions in a few large fixed locations, or millions of tiny moving ones?

Electric is the way to go. The only missing link is good batteries. Once they come, we can build power lines and power plants we're good at that. Personally, I can't wait until the gas station is a thing of the past. A story to tell your children when they see an old TV show or something.

Libertarian badmouthing aside this is what we're supposed to do with public funds. Research that benefits everyone. (Really, don't you guys have jobs during the day? How's that bootstrap factory coming along? The big bad govt still on a conspiracy to keep you from building it?)

Re:Maybe they know something we don't.. (1)

AvitarX (172628) | about 2 years ago | (#42150185)

We've already run out of cheap oil by the standards of not that long ago

There's a reason tar sands aren't generally in peak oil estimates.

More please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149691)

It's great that we're creating and funding this research center, but $120 million spread over five years seems a bit low.
If they achieve their 5x capacity at 1/5 the price goals, it could impact not only all current autonomously powered devices, but create whole new categories of products that aren't practical with today's technologies and their associated costs.

If you ask me, batteries (and similar power storage devices), are *the* biggest bottleneck in modern technology. This is the place to spend our research money.

I want teleportation too (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 2 years ago | (#42149695)

But demanding it wont make it happen.

Oh, and i want a desktop sized chocolate chip cookie synthesizer machine too. mmmm cookies..

Re:I want teleportation too (3, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | about 2 years ago | (#42150215)

True, demanding something doesn't guarantee you get it. On the other hand, *not* demanding something *does* guarantee you won't get it.

If nobody in the government demanded a satellite based navigation system, there wouldn't be GPS. If nobody in the government demanded a robust, survivable way of transporting data packets between heterogeneous networks, there wouldn't be the Internet. If nobody in the government demanded a way of automating a wide variety of computations, the computer as we know it wouldn't exist. Same goes for the polio vaccine -- if you don't think that's a big deal ask someone brought up before the Salk vaccine was introduced.

Unlike the iPad or the filtered cigarette, these things were not going to be invented by the private sector (at least not soon) because once you discounted the probable profits by risk, uncertainty and delay, they weren't attractive private investments. On the other hand, the immense public need for these things justified the government investment in removing the initial uncertainties. Once the risky and uncertain parts of the problem are solved, then private investment is clearly a more efficient vehicle for making marginal improvements, which add up quickly. Kind of like shifting responsibility for low Earth orbit launches to private companies.

Don't forget... (1)

vell0cet (1055494) | about 2 years ago | (#42149727)

"overcoming current manufacturing limitations through innovation to reduce complexity and cost"

Don't forget overcoming the patents own by big oil and reducing legal fees.

This is clearly a precursor for the second impact (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42149857)

How else are you supposed to fight with giant robots?

My prediction (1)

sir-gold (949031) | about 2 years ago | (#42149889)

6 years from now we will be hearing about a DOE battery project being canceled without being completed, because it's 5 years behind schedule and $700 million over budget.

Bonus: this will allow Surface to run for 20 hours (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 2 years ago | (#42149959)

The major bonus of a 5 times longer battery life is that your MSFT Surface Tablet will have a life of 20 hours on a battery charge, instead of the current 4 hours, so you'll actually be able to use it. ... what, too soon?

Re:Bonus: this will allow Surface to run for 20 ho (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42150109)

... except every other device will be able to do 40 hours of battery with the same battery technology

Re:Bonus: this will allow Surface to run for 20 ho (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about 2 years ago | (#42150329)

at the same time though everyone else's batteries would last a week or more

"I want" doesn't get (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about 2 years ago | (#42150117)

I want a freakin' dinosaur but nobody'll give me $120m/year to make it happen.

anti-science slashdot? Get a clue, guys. (3, Insightful)

troutman (26963) | about 2 years ago | (#42150187)

Argonne has been a center for battery research and testing going back to 1976 . They have teams of materials scientists, chemists and physicists who have been working on various aspects of improving battery systems for many years, with a lot of published researched and patents. They also has one of the top 5 supercomputers in the world on-site, an entire center devoted to nanotechnology research, the biggest x-ray source around (for materials property research), and all sorts of other resources that make this more than "just another place" to do this work.

This grant is all about combining and focusing the efforts of all sorts of other public institutions and private manufacturers, with leadership from what is truly a "critical mass" of smart folks who work at the Argonne campus.

It is not likely to be any one "magic bullet" but lots of little improvements in each aspect of battery technology, gaining a percent or two here, a few more percent there, that when combined together will result in impressive gains. You know, like... science.

Re:anti-science slashdot? Get a clue, guys. (1)

siddesu (698447) | about 2 years ago | (#42150301)

This is not "like science", man, this is like Marxism. Remember, Marx said and Lenin confirmed it - quantitative accumulations transform into qualitative changes. I say this is a badly covered plot to leak Communism out of these batteries and into our freedoms. We should kill it with fire before it self-combusts.

Why all the hate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42150231)

If nothing else it's a step in the right direction.
And with it being a government project lots of companies will be able to make use of all the research.

cue the chinese... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42150269)

maybe china will now invest a much, much larger amount into development, thus killing any hope this program has, so we blame obama a'la solyndra. cuz it'd be his fault. /rollseyes

And a Pony that doesnt pooh! (1)

nevermindme (912672) | about 2 years ago | (#42150291)

Battery technology has been a slow evolution and after 200 hundred years quantum leaps of performance are most expensive. The free market is working on this one, any money thrown at this just makes the market less free and less level. Wish the DOE would work on a standard "US Nuclear Power plant" design for the 21st century so all these batteries can be charged with the cheapest power possible on actual cost and pollution products basis.

Re:And a Pony that doesnt pooh! (1)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 2 years ago | (#42150427)

Ah, but you are being to rational in asking for a better battery charging source, from say a Thorium reactor or Tri Alpha Energy's Boron-Gas Plasma fusion generator.

That would be too easy when we could just pile hundreds of millions a year into what existing university and corporations are already spending in 100s of places worldwide already.

This is not a problem (1)

Mike Van Pelt (32582) | about 2 years ago | (#42150357)

Everybody knows that the laws of physics are written in Washington DC, right? Pass a law, and reality must bend.

Well, everyone in Washington DC thinks so, anyway.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>